Conversations on Applied AI - Stories from Experts in Artificial Intelligence

Dave Mathias - Online Options to Learn Artificial Intelligence

October 12, 2020 Justin Grammens Season 1 Episode 9
Conversations on Applied AI - Stories from Experts in Artificial Intelligence
Dave Mathias - Online Options to Learn Artificial Intelligence
Show Notes Transcript

This episode is a followup from some of the great conversations we had with Dave Mathais back in Episode 6! This time around, Dave and I riff on all the various online courses, meetups ( Hint -- AppliedAI.MN ), and data challenges that both compies and communities are holding to help elevate and build a community around what's possible with Artificial Intelligence.

Finally, if you are interested in learning about how AI is being applied across multiple industries, be sure to join us at a future Applied AI Monthly meetup and help support us so we can make future Emerging Technologies North non-profit events! 

Resources and Topics Mentioned in this Episode

Your host,
Justin Grammens

Dave Mathias  0:01  
A 25,000 if you want to get this Master's from the University of Arizona, it's a great school like it's it's one of the best schools out there when you get into artificial intelligence in that stage. But I have a challenge to say like if I can take most of the same courses, and those courses, I can audit for free, right? I can audit these courses on these platforms for free. And I have my work to show afterwards. How much difference is it going to make now if my employer is paying for it and that's a different capacity and it helps creates a motivation but just you know, write a big check to have a degree I'm more and more challenges are what where's the value show me how this is going to be better than that.

AI Announcer  0:42  
Welcome to the conversations on applied AI podcast where Justin Grammens and the team at emerging technologies North talk with experts in the fields of artificial intelligence and deep learning. In each episode, we cut through the hype and dive into how these technologies are being applied to real world problems today. We hope that you find this episode educational and applicable to your industry and connect with us to learn more about our organization at applied Enjoy.

Justin Grammens  1:12  
Welcome to the conversations on applied AI podcast. Today we have Dave Mathias, as you might recall, there was a guest back on episode six, where we talked about data coaching, and artificial general intelligence. Dave is a principal and founder at beyond the data and the go beyond the data podcast where he talks with experts across the world about leveraging human centered and data driven thinking. He's also passionate about education. The following audio are excerpts not published from the last interview, and one in which we discuss the wide array of online courses available to those eager to begin an exciting career in artificial intelligence and deep learning. There are so many courses available to those who are interested. And I hope that you as a listener are able to tap into many of the resources we discussed during this episode. So without further introduction, we'll start the interview here. Hey, Dave, how's it going? Good, good. Just trying to think where we want to start the conversation. I mean, in your career, you know, you I know you've been getting a lot in education in artificial intelligence. curious to hear some more thoughts that you have around that those concepts? Yeah, well, the good thing is, is there's so much stuff out there, right. So many people have done different things, whether it's, it's under branded content, like under University banners, and they're putting it now on Coursera, or edX, there's a lot of great stuff out on those types of platforms versus Udacity, or Udemy, or all these things. So one person that I'm really excited about is Jeremy Howard and what he's doing with and so if you just go to the website,, you're gonna find a lot of great content out there. And there's content around like straight machine learning the traditional, you know, random forest and other things that you might, you know, utilize. But then there's also all this sort of the deep learning type of stuff, you know, vision, audio translation, all that kind of stuff. And on that he sort of done a couple things. One is the the lessons that he's put out there for free, so the video lectures and, and experiments, and he's made his Jupiter notebooks available and all that kind of stuff, right. So you, you can go through all the learning yourself. In fact, I don't know if you know who Sam Cherrington is with? No, this weekend machine learning and artificial intelligence. Oh, yeah. Okay, I described that I get that. Yeah, just the name. Yeah. didn't click. So Sam, Sam has a slack group out there, too. He's out of St. Louis. Actually, Sam is and and as part of that they've actually done a couple of different go through fast AI with a cohort. It's always good, better to learn like this together. So. So my suggestion is like, if you're if you're looking to do this fast, I certainly can do it together, do it alone, and or just do with a friend. But you know, maybe see if there's a cohort out there that you want to just do it along together. And you can better learn together. Yeah, more than of course, just by yourself. So something just recommending to folks, whether you're in a company in here, a few of you want to go through it, or you have some friends, things like that, or check out if if twimble is doing anything like that recently, maybe applied AI might want to do something like that some? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And in fact, I, there is actually a deep learning Group here in town that Yaniv benemid, has been running. And they meet every Sunday, I'll put a link to his Meetup group here, as well as like these open source things. I mean, yeah, you're right. There's just there's so much out there. It's always better to to learn off each other, right? I mean, sometimes you can get stuck. And many times you get stuck. And whether it's online forum, or whether it's a Slack channel, or the applied AI Meetup group, right, you know, all that type of stuff. Those are great, great resources to reach out to how does fast AI then make any money or doesn't it? It's you just started doing this? Yeah. So he's created a fund. They're actually our research firm, too. And he's done a couple startups. I think he's done very well. Let's just say from from all appearances, and so I think part of this is really giving back things but I think they get funded to do they actually do cutting edge research in artificial intelligence. And so they're

Dave Mathias  5:00  
They're getting paid in that capacity somewhat, but the the education part is completely free. And in why you put fast AI because in addition to the education, there is the abstraction component where you can use it like Kerris, they have their fast AI that sits on top of it, where it's it's, you know, if your basic programming skills, you'll be able to quickly get up to speed and put these models into practice. And you're not certainly hyper parameter tunings always, especially when you're when you're going into deep learning, hyper parameter tuning can be that frustrating part, they've created fast II in the sense of, okay, trying to minimize the amount of tuning that you need to do, but still getting very good results. So so definitely recommend folks to take a look at their but then there's always of course, like, like on Coursera. And certainly, I think it's deep that and doing now is going under, right. So he has his coursework that it's also available on Coursera is AI for everyone. That's sort of the every person artificial intelligence training, everybody should like, if you're in business, if you're anywhere in your career, that's something you should take, it's not that long to go through. And I do think it gets people up to that basic level of competence so that they can least have those conversations. But then, of course, if you know, there's artificial intelligence, and there's typical, you know, okay, do you want to just get better at certain business intelligence and those types of components and, and there's a whole gamut of analytics learning that's out there, no matter how technical or business side focus that you want to get some of that I'm actually a big fan of also on Coursera is through University of Michigan's courses. And they have some good courses on pandas and even some good they have a really good Python course for somebody that's not as an experienced in Python. So if you want to get the basic programming capacities, and then you take the data science courses, through university Michigan on Coursera, has been, I think, a good one too. Yeah. You know, it's funny, it seems like it seems like lots of universities have gone online, you know, whether it be Stanford or I saw University of Arizona, I've seen you know, MIT, there's, there's all these sort of classes now, because they can offer them online. And these these platforms, the tough thing is, you know, I think the Stanford class was like 12 grand or something like that, right? And it's just like, the prices can be high, I guess, at the end of the day, my thinking is, is at least you get some sort of certification or something like, what what are your thoughts on that? I mean, so fast that I go through the stuff, you know, maybe I'll have a repo a GitHub repo, at the end, I'll have learned a bunch of stuff. But like, I don't really earn a certificate per se, do I? And maybe do I? Do I need to? Yeah, that's the question is, do you need to write so like, the benefit of being a encoding, if you're ever in that, like, obviously, you've been in that space for a long time, through the mobile world, and now into the artificial intelligence IoT, you've done that all. And the nice thing is, you get to show your work. I mean, it's like certain fields, you get to show your work. And I think having projects being able to show your code, I think that matters so much more than any certificates. And, you know, I'm not like, certainly, Peter teal is not always the best. The The best example, folks is a crisis. But it's a time, you know, one of the things he's doing is like, hey, challenge, the assumption that people need to be going through these expensive educational platforms to get a certificate that in the long run, honestly, five years from now, 10 years from now, how different how much meaning? Well, a lot of this, this technology is gonna be different. Now, certainly, a lot of fundamentals that you're going to learn at any school is that you're learning to learn, hopefully, more than anything, which is and I hate that statement, because I think we should just be what curious people that are constantly take advantage of all this learning that's out there. And so it's interesting, like, over the years, I've taken Coursera courses since its came out. I don't know how many years ago now. Well, I have multiple graduate degrees. And I feel like none of these things are things that like a client's gonna hire me, because I've taken, I do feel like I need to constantly be learning both from a self satisfaction standpoint, but also, because I don't want to be a dinosaur, right? Like in this field, you can quickly become a dinosaur without trying. My uncle. He used to work in the mainframe business, right? So he got his master's in mathematics. And right when he was coming out, I believe in the 70s is when he was started, he came out of grad school, and then got into mainframes, like they didn't have computer science generally, in most universities at that point. And so he was doing, got into mainframe programming was able to do it his whole career. Luckily, but that doesn't happen nowadays. Right? Nowadays, it's not whatever you learn in college, or right after getting into your first job, it's gonna be so different down the road. So I'm very challenged, like, and I see that a lot with Coursera or other platforms where they're trying to charge still like, Hey, 25,000, if you want to get this Master's from the University of Illinois and University of Illinois are great school like it's, it's one of the best schools out there, when you get into artificial intelligence in that stage, but I have a challenge to say like if I could take most of the same courses, and those courses, I can audit for free, right? I can audit these courses.

These platforms for free. And I have my work to show afterwards. How much difference is it going to make now, if my employer is paying for it, and that's a different capacity, and it helps motivation, but just to, you know, write a big check to have a degree I, I'm more and more challenge of like, Where's the value? Show me, show me how this is going to be better than that.

Justin Grammens  10:22  
Good point. I mean, there's also certifications you can get, I'm just thinking back, like, with regards to tool sets, right? So you can get certified in as yours, you know, stack and get certified in Google's you can get certified in TensorFlow, you can, you know, pytorch, I'm sure there's, there's all these things you can just kind of get very, very focused on. And I guess the question is, is, you know, do you think it's valuable to maybe start there and really go deep on a specific skill set, for example, because that that is marketable in a lot of ways. You know, when you get done with that, you can literally search through job descriptions that say, we need these skills. And you could say, Aha, you know, I satisfy these these bullet points. And I guess it could be argued, well, if I went to a four year college, and I did this, and that stuff, I probably would would span a number of different things. But you're right, coming out of school, sometimes you don't actually get that deep on on various things. Is that a problem? Because me as an employer, I'm kind of jumping around a little bit here. But me as an employer, you know, I am looking for those hard skills. And so, you know, is there is our college system failing us in some ways with what they're teaching?

Dave Mathias  11:25  
Yeah, I mean, this is interesting. So I'm working with one of the universities right now their master's program as we're updating a component of it, and one of it is is trying to build in, we're trying to have the soft skills along with the technical skills in this update, because there's, there's a need for both, as we know, like, some people are going to have stronger on one or the other. But there's also some of those technical skills, those main brand things that you know, in the job descriptions, people want to see, like you have experienced with this, and can you check the box? Can you have somebody go into an interview, at least have a good conversation, at least have a starting point in some demonstratable work in that space? And I'm by no means an expert in if I have a certification in X, my monetary value is why in this marketplace, because for one is I think that that is a constantly changing thing. But I do think there's there's obviously I would talk to somebody that has in your marketplace, whoever's listening, you know, somebody that has experience in those recruiting segments of, you know, what does this type of certification resonate with in your area? Is it worth it? I do think those certainly like a PMP, for example, with a project management, that certainly has a monetary value. On the other hand, like one of the space I've been in is product management has less no monetary value, you know, some people will value it Don't get me wrong, but it doesn't, it's not so ubiquitous across the industry. So you know, whether a skill is ubiquitous or not, but certainly Tableau certification is valuable in that space. But again, I would stress anyone, don't get too far down the rabbit hole. Because technology's changed, things change. And so at least place a few different bets, as opposed to just placing one bet if you're if you're going down that. And of course, there's like Tableau and alteryx. And of course, SQL, like if you have a few of those things, like that's probably enough bets to place and if one of them goes away, yeah, you put another bet on something else, where you pick up something else. I think we're telling people to be lifelong learners. But I think our society or educational system really wasn't developed to be lifelong learning. It was okay. You go through high school, and then that now we're saying, You can't just go get a job now. Now you need to go through college, you're four years. And now we're even saying oftentimes, now you need to go through masters and oftentimes masters people, they're going right after school or shortly after undergrad. And so I think I think we need to adjust that some, there's a recognition that that needs to be adjusted some. At the same time, we have a big, big business around the existing structure. So so I'd love to see more boot camp places more here, like I'm leveraging these couple skills. And now I get to go to a job as I was just doing a like an Ask me anything, I was the person they had for this. But it's basically like a, like an analytics type Bootcamp, more towards data analysts, data engineers that kind of grew up the Dallas, Texas area is where the school is located. And so I was doing that there. But they they do a lot around the other the soft skills, but they also are like, Hey, here's the X amount of technical skills that you need to know these things. They're programs designed to get people internships right away. I think it's six months in total. And I know there's a lot of these different boot camps that are popped up around the country. And I'd like to see more just to challenge the existing education system, for your degrees make sense for certainly a lot of things. But I think we need to be just more open of when does such a thing Make sense? or What is it like this is constantly changing, so maybe six months and then you go out and you're doing this for a couple years and maybe you go back for another few months for something else to add on, you know, thinking of that mentality.

Justin Grammens  15:00  
That's great. I mean, I've, I've done a four year degree, I've done a Master's, but I also did a certificate program at the University through the University of Minnesota, and this would have been, man, probably getting into the late 90s, probably 9798 timeframe. And yeah, it was all about Linux, c, c++, basically DevOps before it was called DevOps. And, you know, the University was running this out of a, essentially a training center in Medina. And so I just went there for like a quote unquote, boot camp, and now I'm showing my age, but that was like 20, you know, 23 years ago. Now. You know, now there's new, there's new names, there's new technology, there's new ways to do it. But at the end of the day, yeah, I mean, I learned a lot of stuff in a very, very short amount of time. And I paid for it out of my own pocket, because I knew that learning VI, quite frankly, has been something that has changed my career. Right, I can log in any Unix system and use and use vim VI. And I've, it's a thing that I use to this day. And as a little skill that I learned, and I know a lot of people that don't know how to use it, and they're kind of like, like, just learn it, just like it for me. It's also like, like Java, like, thank goodness, I learned Java back 23 years ago, as well, because it was just like, it's completely changed my trajectory. But again, it was one of these things where I didn't learn that in school back then they weren't really teaching Java. And so I decided to take it upon myself to learn it. The lifelong learning thing is interesting, too, because you know, a lot, a lot of people have the mindset, you know, and I would say, me included, I guess, you know, outside of the certificate program, stuff like that, that I get done with school, I look back, I'm like, I'm done taking tests, and I just kind of walk away, right, there's just this sort of closure where you're like, I finished whatever degree I did, and the book is closed. And for me, I realized that I'm learning a lot, of course, during my career, but then there's also just focused learning, you know, there's actually taking time aside every week, you know, and I'm really trying to put that on my calendar, where it's like, okay, during these chunks of time here, I'm literally going to block out everything and just use this as ongoing education time. So I'm not sure if you take that tact or you know, of anybody to take that tech, but I think for me, make a concerted effort to put it on your calendar, otherwise, it just won't get done.

Dave Mathias  17:02  
Yeah, I think both. And I think it putting time on your calendar for investing in yourself. And I think the you know, part of that is, is maybe it's time for your online learning, but it could also be on just other hobbies that you want to develop. So thinking about, like, how can you invest in yourself both from a creative side from a, you know, professional side and kassian leveling up yourself? I think the other thing that people would do well, and maybe putting a little more time is just time to think right? So I think oftentimes, we're just so we have so many emails and meetings and other things that we're trying to deal with. So what is that time that we're spending really thinking and just saying, Do I have time marked off to think I have these problems, these things need to process dedicating time to that, too, is another thing.

Justin Grammens  17:46  
I read a book recently, it's called the 5am Club. It's by a guy named Robin Sharma, but it talks about taking an hour for yourself and his his whole thing is do it at 5am actually get up early, and sort of dedicate that time to exercise to to think to journal and to learn. I started reading in the fall, it was a you know, an audiobook. And it's it's completely changed the way that I sort of view my days, actually, I think going into your days when you've planned and prepared, rather than waking up and jumping right into it has been kind of a life changer in some ways. So I'll probably include his book in the liner notes. Fun, funny, we talked about that. But everyone's got their own systems, everyone's got their own ways in which they do it. One thing that has occurred to me recently, too, is is like, every day, I try and do three things, what can I or think about, what can I do for myself? What can I do for my business? Or my employer, I guess? And then what can I do for my community? And so so for me, as long as I can sit back at the end of the day at 10am going to sleep and I can pick out just one thing. You know, what, where where was an obstacle? What did I Where did I move the ball forward, and in each one of those three areas, I feel like I've accomplished something and I feel like I'm going to do something then then plan out what you can do for the next day. But those sort of three pieces of the pyres is what I've sort of viewed as something important for me.

Dave Mathias  19:06  
Yeah, that's great. And I always say with any of these systems, it's like, whatever works for you. And if it's like, he that hour, two hours, or whatever you want to spend is like late at night, or i think i think you know, putting that time aside and like how do you want to look at it as like, what am I doing this week? versus what am I doing today? So figure out a system that works for you and just stick to it.

Justin Grammens  19:27  
So bring it back to education. You and I were talking before this, you talked about a flipped model and I've I've heard of that. Could you define that a little bit?

Dave Mathias  19:35  
Yeah, so the idea of a flipped classroom is is getting more and more popular, although still most universities are not accepting of it. Typically you go to a class, you are sitting there, it's a one to many situation you have a lecture or instructor that's lecturing to the class right? The idea with a flipped classroom model is okay. consume your videos or other type of lecture one to many content offline like not in person. And then when you're in class, it's whatever activities or projects or things like that are being done there, right? Because it because like, we can all just like watch a YouTube video of some instructor at a board talking, you know, pontificating and get as much right like, and I think this is one of the things that I'm a big believer in is some people are better consuming things in audio format, some people are better at like, they love the visual, the video type aspect, some people like to just read information. So giving people a choice of different ways to consume the same type of content, and in more easily resonates with them. And again, they'll be more likely to do it, they'll enjoy it more when they're doing it, they'll remember it better, they'll act upon it better. So again, like thinking about how educational institutions can can realize, hey, it's not one size fits all, your students are customers. And so how do you create an environment that's good for your customers? And then hey, you know, if you're gonna be charging someone for tuition, when they're coming to class, like, let's let's, you know, get some engagement, and what's that activity. And then the nice thing about the flipped classroom model is, it's much easier to also then convert that into an online entire type of module, because then you're thinking of just like, like, right now, when we're doing the doing this with this university, we're doing it in both capacities of an in person perspective and an online perspective for the same learning. And so right, right away, we're like, Okay, how can we still bring value offline, or like the online force format, and the online where they can both both benefit from the the different perspectives, but they're both in the same cohort, a model or where everyone's going through the same class at the same time, whether it's online or whether it's offline? I think it'd be better for more universities. And probably it's like, let's be honest, like most instructors are so used to standing up in front of a classroom, and getting out of board and writing down things are, you know, I kind of thing so so it's, it's, it's adjusting what people are used to doing is tough.

Justin Grammens  21:56  
Yeah, well, not even in college, I had actually heard a school in Washington, DC did this where they completely flipped the model. And, you know, typically you give students homework, and they're sitting there doing their homework on their own. And the whole idea was, was like, give them the lecture while they're outside the classroom. And then when they're in the classroom, it's you do your homework. Yeah. And then you can you can collaborate with each other. And I remember, listen to that. I'm like, that's just, that's brilliant. You know, why? Why are more even High School is not even doing this.

Dave Mathias  22:25  
Yeah, I think everyone should, because I mean, one is like, then like, you have the benefit of engagement, like a people are there together in one of its like, certain programs, like MBA programs are really good at like team based learning, right? Like, that's a big focus, but I think probably is maybe our society is, is we're very like, hey, how is Justin, like, we need to we need to grade you individually? Well, I think, in general, in this world, more and more, we need to be trained as like, how do we perform in teams? How do we, as a team, succeed or fail, and I think that'd be a better mentality for us generally, as opposed to upgrading so much individually. But again, you know, these things are tough to change, especially inertia is a tough thing to change. Right? So

Justin Grammens  23:02  
we've been education, you know, in the country here for hundreds of years now. But you know, it starts small, I have a friend teaches a course out in the Cleveland area. And his whole thing is, is it's not really even in the classroom, they actually go to industry, they'll go to the Cleveland Indians, and talk to them about statistics and baseball, they'll go to a Goodyear Tire. And they're actually meet with people from Goodyear in Goodyear facility, to basically talk about what's the future of autonomous vehicles and autonomous travel, because that's what Goodyear is thinking about. So the students are actually going out into the field meeting with these people that are doing some very interesting things around technology and emerging trends. And they're getting themselves sort of immersed in it. And yeah, they wouldn't learn that if they were just sitting in a classroom reading about it. So I really love what he's doing there. And in some ways, yeah, I want to try and build a similar class here and like the Twin Cities, but it's, uh, it definitely makes for a completely different learning experience,

Dave Mathias  24:00  
you know, it's sort of things are going to resonate more with others. I do remember even when I was in high school, in my chemistry course, we went to a lot of different settings in the community, like a Duracell factory, and you know, you'd see that in person. And actually here in the Twin Cities, I remember, when you and I, you had organized a trip around different IoT stuff around the silicon wafer stuff. And like, I think there's a lot like when you start, like physically touching things and talking to people, and you start picturing things in a different light. So I think, you know, whether you're a kid or you're an adult, you know, in the field sort of experience a lot. So,

Justin Grammens  24:35  
yeah, that was that we just kind of built this Twin Cities manufacturing tour, I think is what it was, right. We rented a van and it's like a dozen of us hopped in there, and we drove all around to various places that were doing. You know, some of them had molds that they were doing, but the other ones were basically manufacturing PCBs. And it's funny, it's Yeah, manual that goes back quite quite some time because you never hear these places, right? And then all of a sudden there's there's a warehouse or something. actually get a chance to go inside and you're like, wow, this is what's going on inside here. These guys are these guys are cranking out circuit boards,

Dave Mathias  25:05  
you know, watch, you're making stuff here and you don't realize all the things that are really being done. But I think that as whether you're your kid or whether you're an adult, and you can put yourself into which things do you really resonate with, I think some people feel like that discount education, like the instructor is doing less work, if they're not doing the instruction as much, but I think no, like curating good content, whether it's good content that you're putting in front of people digitally, or whether it's good content, bring people into a live setting, or tours or things like that, that that I think is a better, more important thing. And then then how do you also then apply that learning is the other component that I think good instructors can do a much better job of, and then focus less on the more traditional, like, I need to be in front of a board and do this, like how can I get good content? I get my students a lot of experiences that they're going to be able to picture themselves in that. And then also, how do they actually apply these some of these things?

Justin Grammens  26:04  
Yeah, what what's your thoughts on on like internships? You know, have you been exposed to those? Have you had interns at your company? Have you trained students that have gone out and done internships? What are you seeing?

Dave Mathias  26:14  
Yeah, it's a chunk, because internships vary so much, right. And I've had internships when I've been with interns, when I've been with big companies. I did one internship A long time ago, myself, but it's been like that when I was in school, right. But when I think of internships, I think, in general, most internships, and I think it's somewhat on job cycle, where it's like, Are you trying to wine and dine the person to get them to say yes, and make sure you're good? It's a good fit, so to speak, versus, are you trying to really give them a good experience and a learning experience, but also something that's going to do real work for the company? So Minnesota deed, right, the economic development here in Minnesota, they have this program, the dual apprentice program, right. So it's the idea is basically applied learning where there's, there's grants and funding that's available for this. But the idea is companies would would, you know, be able to get educational resources, but it would be applied in the real job setting. So I think more of that apprentice model, where it's really like an apprenticeship, as opposed to I feel like most internships are not really apprenticeships, and they are not a realistic view of things and give people a fair perspective of things, which I don't think is helpful to anyone, I do see more people trying to emulate like, even that, that, that boot camp, down in Dallas, I mean, that's what they're trying to do, they're trying to do a real Prentice ship type model, there's a couple of those boot camps where I think there's no cost for the boot camps to attend, I think there's one out in New York and somewhere else, where there's no cost to attend, but as part of it, basically, then they're gonna be selling your time your because you're gonna learn some skills, and then you're gonna, like, get some, some work, and they're basically going to be selling your time and getting the money for selling your time during the program. Oh, sure. So sort of a different sort of model is to say, instead of having to pay for the program, the 15,000, or whatever that type of bootcamp might be, you're not going to pay that, but you're going to be basically paying with your applied learning.

Justin Grammens  28:15  
Yeah, sure. Sure. If you're familiar with the cytec experience here in the Twin Cities,

Dave Mathias  28:21  
I don't know I am,

Justin Grammens  28:22  
it's a similar program as the deed from what I know. And we participated in that at lap 651, for the past couple summers. And what it basically does is, it gives you, I think, up to $5,000, to the employer, to basically you know, you pay the student, but then you end up getting, it's either 2500 or $5,000, I can't remember exactly that you can essentially get as a grant to then help pay for the students. So it's really it's a no brainer, number one. And then also, it's focused a lot on science and technology, right. So a lot of these, a lot of these are STEM students are there in the STEM field. And there's no cost of the student really, they literally just have to make sure that they put their resume through the site tech experience website. And then me as an employer, I can hire them. And then once at the end of the summer, I can basically go to site tech and say, Look, here's everything, I paid the student, and they will reimburse me for it. So nice, really awesome program and highly recommend it. But yeah, I mean, anyway, you can sort of lower that, that barrier, or that that bar to have an employer be able to take on an intern because, you know, in some ways, it's it can be a little bit of a distraction. I guess it depends on your company or business model. You know, I have a tough time being able to sort of Bill these students out to a client, because they're still sort of learning, you know, and so customers come to us because we're the experts, but it's all factored into our business model. And I love having students there. I never had a chance to be an intern anywhere I got done with school with a math and physics degree. And I'm like, What does a person do? Right? I mean, I didn't really know what the landscape was. I didn't get a chance to go out and be an actuary. For example, or you know, you know, teach or whatever it is what I was going to do after my school and I ended up loving computers anyways, along the way, even though I didn't really get a computer science degree. And that's how I ended up, you know, falling into my career. But I think a lot of people, it would do them well, to see what the world's like before they spent four or five, six, you know, seven years, whatever it is, in school, and you know, $100,000 in debt, or whatever it is, then finally realize, hey, this isn't for me. So earlier, you can get students out to experience what it's like, I'm all for that, for sure.

Dave Mathias  30:31  
Yeah. And I know, like, engineering programs generally are very good at that at most universities that I've known with big engineering programs, where they're like, whether it's mechanical, electrical, you know, those type programs, where they're, they've built up such a history of that. But I also think we have a lot more career changing happening nowadays. I've known a lot of people that have wanted to do like, Hey, can I do an internship and they're their second or third careers, and they're looking for those opportunities. A lot of times internships are viewed at like, hey, that's something like a 1920 year old 21 year old might be going through, right, and it sort of feels awkward in that. But I think the, you know, creating more opportunities to let people change. I mean, I think people have a lot of skills to bring to the table, oftentimes, and how but how do you make that transition easier for them? So I thinking about even like, career changers, too, and especially as, as we know, like, there's constant disruption that's occurring in different markets and different places. So how do you help people not just go up, but also that internship aspect, that applied learning aspect? is such a valuable thing to actually get them to a level where they're, they're more valuable to?

Justin Grammens  31:39  
Right, for sure. Well, how do we tie this back to artificial intelligence as

Dave Mathias  31:44  
well? I mean, I think that's that's one of the questions, right, to having more of those opportunities, like, you know, I think this is there's so much great online learning, and how do you bring more of that online learning into applied settings, whether it's benefiting social causes, whether it's benefiting nonprofits, whether it's betting funding, small or medium sized businesses aren't going to be able to afford that sort of things? I think that there's opportunities out there. Certainly bigger companies, medium sized companies are what they'll have enough, you know, they hire interns, they do things like that, I think there might be an opportunity out there to say, okay, there's a lot of people's learning a lot of cool things out there. And they want to apply that to Good, good causes. So maybe there's an opportunity for somebody to do something there.

Justin Grammens  32:32  
Yeah. And I mean, I think about competitions, like kaggle competitions, but there's also ones you know, there been local groups here in town, a group called Star 82, that did a lot of work with nonprofits, right. And I'm not sure if you probably attended those meetings, and were a part of some of some of those things in I was a part of a team a couple times, where the whole purpose of it was to get a bunch of data scientists together to work with a nonprofit that could honestly not afford to pay for a person like this on staff. So kind of a win win win, it feels like with regards to the nonprofit's when, you know, the people that are attending, they end up learning something new, and at the end of the day, they can show possibly even a resume builder to get themselves more and more into this field.

Dave Mathias  33:14  
Yeah, exactly. And I think more like, you know, more at scale, exactly what started YouTube did, or there's some other groups that have done some of those types of things to where I think, you know, how do you create it. So because there's so many different organizations that could benefit from this. And part of its like, a lot of these organizations don't even know, it could benefit from this type of thing. So I think there is an opportunity there. And I think the nerdery had a as part of their nerdery Foundation, they were trying to do something in this realm. And it was matching up sort of tech talent in general, with nonprofits. And of course, the challenge, of course, is like, matching up people with the right skills with the right need, and doing that it's harder when I think there's these terms like artificial intelligence or analytics, because oftentimes somebody's like, wow, Hey, I know how to do this. And not at all related and they don't have the domain expertise. And it's just not, you know, so I think there's got to be something out there and opportunity to help bridge that gap. But I think there's so many organizations that could could benefit from this. And there's also a need to say, hey, you can go through them cable competitions. But I think that's such a defined problem that there isn't much, you know, certainly you gain skill from trying to optimize your model and do things like you know, but but I think it's a more technical application, as opposed to what a real problem would be,

Justin Grammens  34:29  
like, a lot of it is just trying to define what data you need getting that data that can be a challenge a project and of its own.

Dave Mathias  34:36  
To be honest, when I get into nonprofits, some of the ones that I've worked with, especially like the smaller ones, a lot of the biggest thing is just, they oftentimes just don't even think like know what questions to ask them thinking about and a lot of it's just those discussions with them. And a lot of times they don't even have the data. They are they haven't been keeping the data. Oh, yeah, we kept the last six months of this and but of course, you know, so they're been fighting over the other stuff like or, you know, getting rid of it. And so I think a lot of that initial thing is just like talking through problems and talking about potential opportunities and understanding pain points, and it sort of being that that consultant with them first and then figuring out what are those small wins? And how do you keep developing? Certainly when you're, you know, bigger organizations don't have this problem. But I think, you know, as you said, is like, how do you bridge the gap of, of trying to apply learning versus also at the same time, you know, maybe helping some community need?

Justin Grammens  35:27  
Yeah. Well, do you think that as I'm been thinking about artificial intelligence in general, I mean, is there a world where we don't have teachers anymore? Where a physical human teacher, right where it can be automated, I guess what's

Dave Mathias  35:41  
interesting, so like, one of the things I've been doing as I like, Duolingo, right? So Duolingo is something with a language learning. And there is no teacher there. Right? It's, it's, it's all app based. Its listens to how you you pronounce it, give input on like, here's a mistake you made and things like that. It's all been done that way right now. Certainly my level like I've been trying to take a little Chinese a little Arabic and things like other than Spanish at a better verse that, and certainly like some things, I can see how I like it does a really good job in some aspects. I think there's something to be said, just like, do we want a robot cooking our food and doing this? I mean, I think all these types of things have have are we as humans, valuing? What creativity and just like that there's somebody else that cares on the other side. And, like, I do think a lot of the education a lot of the ramen education, while maybe it's not getting rid of all people, maybe it's just scaled where it's okay. And rings really good at teaching this. And it can now teach this to a million people. Yeah, and doing this right now. I'm actually just taking it for the first time. So Seth Godin, who has a Kindle and things like that I took one of his workshops right now. And it's a, you know, the you they scale on a fairly large site, right, but they have a they have coaches that sort of like each cohort. Okay, sure. So the idea is still having people there, and you know, that you're doing it with other people you're going through. And so I do wonder how much it's like, okay, you and I are going through something together, where we're each sort of almost coaching each other and helping each other. I think that model, I could see definitely working without a official instructor, like there's like sort of team based coaching. But I also think there's also the aspects of personalized learning. So the more that something knows where my weak spots are, where my strengths are, that it's going to be better and helping me out. And those those things that I that when you hear from somebody else make that mistake, it's different when they hear me making that mistake, because they have that total history there. And so I think there is something to be said about that, especially when you're talking about learning for kids, especially as like, year after year, they're sort of passed off to other teachers and like, yeah, how can we, how can we make teachers better? So one of the ideas that I've like, and I'm sure Google and others would be the people that are best verse to do this, but is around just a general personalized assistant. Now we have Google assistants and series and these things like that. But something that really knows me, like that is personal to me, that personal assistant knows my medical background, knows my interest knows my everything. And it's basically like my virtual assistant. Yeah, I think the same thing on the teaching side is like, Who is your virtual teacher? Like having something like that, that works together in tandem with your normal people? instructor? Yeah, I'm a big believer in augmented intelligence, as opposed to artificial. Yeah. So how can we take normal teachers and really upskill them because they have this virtual system that also knows the student and some of the gaps and they can remind? Okay, well remember little Jimmy, he has these problems and this like this, maybe we need to do something here.

Justin Grammens  38:55  
I love it. No, that is that that is a great, that is a great concept. Yeah, because you're right, at some point, it becomes all about scaling. And teachers are only good, they have a maximum theoretical limit, right? Whether it's, you know, 32 students in the classroom, or nine months out of the year, whatever, there's a limit, where a teacher can only have so much impact. So if they can do less of the mundane stuff, or at least be reminded of things that strengthens their superpower, quote, unquote, which would be like their humaneness, then I think students would definitely benefit from all of that.

Dave Mathias  39:28  
Plus you have this this longevity in your life, have something that's known in your development throughout. And so it's not just like a one year time where this teacher sees you for a year and then you're often the next teacher, right? So these teachers see blocks of your life as an individual, they don't have a good perspective of what's a longer trajectory for that student. And I think it's just seeing how test scores were in first grade or fifth grade or other things are not, I think, broad enough representation of who that individual is and what their strengths and weaknesses may be.

Justin Grammens  40:00  
Yeah, for sure. For sure. Well, this has been great. It's been a great conversation. Is there anything else you wanted to share around, I guess AI and education.

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