Guest speakers visit Machine Learning club


Courtesy of Slingshot Mentoring

Guest speakers from Slingshot Mentoring spoke at Machine Learning club’s last meeting. CEO Akshat Prakash discussed his motivation behind starting Slingshot. “We started Slingshot so that some of the smartest high school students out there can work in real startups,” Prakash said.

Aryan Rajput, Staff Writer

Jefferson’s Machine Learning Club hosted guest speakers Akshat Prakash, Mayank Jain, and Shreya Bali on Wednesday, Mar. 10, who spoke about pursuing a higher education in computer science. Prakash, Jain, and Bali are members of Slingshot Mentoring, a program that connects high schoolers interested in computer science (CS) to technology internships.

The speakers focused on many aspects of a CS major: day-to-day life, what the major entails in terms of content, and applications of artificial intelligence. They also advised students on continuing their education in computer science. 

The speakers are all graduates from the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science, working for companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Morgan Stanley. As they described what a CS major constitutes both in and out of school, they made sure to emphasize the importance of mindset and lifestyle.

“A common mindset about CS is just coding all day every day sitting in front of the computer, but that’s just not true,” Jain said. “Practice thinking long term, or it will be impossible to achieve your goals. Stay healthy. Sleep well. Eat well.”

The speakers connected their talk back to machine learning and artificial intelligence, the focuses of Machine Learning club, by providing guidance on ways that members of the club and high school students in general could approach learning these subjects. 

“Machine learning is using statistical methods to enable machines to improve with experience,” Bali said. “If you are just starting out… first of all, you should begin by learning statistics.”

The speakers also encouraged club members to make ethical and positive changes in the world, using what they know to harness the power of machine learning.  

“We realize that high school talent is really smart,” Prakash said. “We want to focus on using the right kind of machine learning, and take adequate measures to counteract biases in a dataset.” 

Lastly, the speakers affirmed that computer science is all about problem solving, and gave advice on how to find and solve problems. 

“Be curious about the world you live in and your immediate environment, and focus on the problem, not the solution,” Prakash said. “The [most direct] approach is not always the best one to solve the problem.”