Queen's Machine Intelligence & Neuroevolution Design club attracts hundreds of students

Club hopes to inspire supplementary learning across Canada

QMIND information session sees substantial turnout
Credit: 
Supplied by Cooper Midroni

During his time on campus, Cooper Midroni noticed students have become increasingly more interested in artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, outside of their classrooms, the field is difficult to access.

To mitigate this, Midroni, Sci ’20, founded the Queen’s Machine Intelligence and Neuroevolution Design (QMIND) club on Jan. 14 of this year. The club’s first information session and lecture were held on Jan. 18 and 24 respectively.

QMIND is designed to provide students with resources in a compact and accessible format for independent artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“Our focus is on the education of our members, as well as making educational resources on machine learning more widely available for the Queen's’ community and beyond,” Midroni said.

“If you already have a full courseload it’s hard to add interesting electives,” he added. “The main idea [of QMIND] is to give people with an interest in machine learning an outlet.”

Marketed primarily through Facebook, the club has had an overwhelming reception already. Albeit only a few weeks old, the club has had full lecture halls during their information session and first lecture on neural networks.

The lecture series are held in Jeffrey Hall, with dates specified on the club’s Facebook page. Lecture content is compiled by Midroni’s team of students and emailed to QMIND subscribers to continue their learning or supplement any missed material.                                                                                                                                                       

QMIND is currently accepting and reviewing applications for prospective members. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to work in small groups to complete machine learning tasks following the end of the lecture series.

“None of us claim to be experts in the field, [we] definitely are not. What we’re just trying to do is make the group as viable as possible,” Midroni said.

To do this, he said the club is reaching out to professionals and professors to help oversee the group work as well as connect interested students to the field. “This is a combination of allowing students to get in touch with resources but also building community and a forum [for discussion].”

Midroni’s inspiration for QMIND came following his position as a marketing coordinator for the Commerce and Engineering Environmental Conference. “As I continued to do my job I found that I was really interested in the content. I was watching less videos that were newsfeed worthy and more educational, and I had a moment where I [asked], ‘is this something within a student’s skill-set?’”

Midroni added the response from students, both in terms of reception and direct feedback has been his favourite part of creating the club so far. “A lot of people have commended us on starting it but are also offering a helping hand, which has probably been one of the best things to come out of this,” he said.

In the longterm, Midroni hopes to see QMIND expand across the country to become “a larger force.” QMIND will continue to function into the summer, expanding its email list as well as providing educational information packages and resources for continued learning.

“We’re capable as students of learning and mastering any material on our own – we tend to do that throughout the year anyways,” he said. “I think the best thing you can do is to understand that nothing is outside of your reach and if you can develop a community around that, then that’s something really special.”

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