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Senior Kavya Kopparapu hosts an Artificial Intelligence Summit for students nationwide

Sneha Joisha, Staff Writer

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Jefferson students and keynote speakers stood on this stage as they presented their ideas and shared their experiences about artificial intelligence.

In order to listen to artificial intelligence ideas and experiences presented by keynote speakers, eighth to 12th graders from across the United States visited an Artificial Intelligence Summit, which senior Kavya Kopparapu organized, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the Chantilly Marriott Hotel Conference Center.

Kopparapu, who won third place in the International Science and Engineering Fair and was a semifinalist in the Siemens competition, wanted students to learn more about artificial intelligence.

“I feel like giving students a foundation, especially in artificial intelligence, is really important,” Kopparapu said. “I’ve attended a lot of research conferences presenting my research, and [for] a lot of them, I’ve been the only high school undergrad or graduate student because it’s mainly for professionals. And so bringing the atmosphere of that type of conference and all the amazing speakers who are industry leaders and bringing them so that high school students can interact with them [is important].”

After Kopparapu introduced Principal Ann Bonitatibus and several keynote speakers, such as Virginia Delegate Kenneth Plum and Johns Hopkins University Assistant Professor of Finance Jim Liew, members from the Girls Computing League, an organization founded by Kopparapu, introduced other speakers to the students after sharing their own experiences with artificial intelligence.

“I’ve lived such a life where computer science has been taught to me since I was in preschool, but it just occurred to me that other kids don’t even have access [to] the camps that we’ve done,” junior and member Neha Damaraju said. “[It] just struck me as how much we take for granted [and] how much we have the Wi-Fi [to] code, and others don’t [get to] do that.”

Members of the Girls Computing League often participate in events that help girls who are unable to learn computer science.

“It was really interesting to me since we were actually able to make an impact [and] help thousands of girls out, which is a great thing in today’s society where women aren’t recognized as much in the STEM workforce, so when Kavya asked me if I wanted to be part of [the Girls Computing League], I jumped at the opportunity because it’s such a great cause,” junior and member Bindu Srinivasa said.

Kopparapu invited over 300 students from many places, including Jefferson, Title I schools, and housing authorities.

“I wanted to give them an experience of getting involved with computer science [where the students] get to attend events like this where they pay for you to come and learn, so I wanted to give them that high-quality research conference experience,” Kopparapu said.

Besides learning about artificial intelligence, Kopparapu hoped that students learned lessons from this summit as well.

“You should always ask people, and the worst they can say is no because I feel like this event came together because a lot of people said yes to a high school student who wanted to organize the conference,” Kopparapu said. “And I feel like a lot of people are a little scared to take that step because of the fear of rejection, but I feel like if someone says no, you just move on to the next person. There’s always something more to be gained from sticking your limb out and trying something new. Don’t fear the unknown. Embrace it.”

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The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Senior Kavya Kopparapu hosts an Artificial Intelligence Summit for students nationwide