When the participants first arrive at our villa in the green EUR area of Rome, they are received with a breakfast and speeches by Jamshid Alamuti, Co-Founder and CEO of Pi School, and Marco Trombetti, Co-Founder of Pi School and Co-Founder of Pi Campus. Then, we take them on a tour of the villa, the 3000 sqm garden, and the beautiful surrounding neighborhood on a hill. We offer many different facilities that are always open to the participants throughout the eight weeks. These include a blue pool, a Turkish bath, a fully equipped kitchen, and meeting rooms equipped for videoconferences. When the weather is right, some classes will even be held outdoors at the pool.
For a participant in the School of AI, a day starts around nine o’ clock in the morning, when they arrive at the school to have a typically Italian breakfast of croissants and sandwiches, usually accompanied with coffee or juices. After mingling with the other participant during breakfast the teams of two go to the Bernbach Hall, where the work is done, to work on their respective projects. We provide the participants with all of the necessary equipment, a desk, a chair, a big screen, Amazon Web Services instances, and GitHub access. Everything organisational is managed through Slack and Basecamp to encourage open communication between participants, mentors and Pi School’s team.
A delicious lunch is provided around 13:00, also offering options for vegetarians and vegans if necessary. The lunch can be anything from traditional Italian spaghetti dishes to a Sushi Burrito. In these lunches, everyone gets together to eat and exchange ideas, experiences, and talk to other people working in the same field as them about everything ranging from personal things to the latest discoveries and research done in AI. After that, it’s back to work.
Once a week a one-hour meeting takes place with the mentors, the Programme Director Sébastien Bratières, and the sponsors. In these weekly meetings, the participants give progress reports in which they discuss their projects, the adversities they’ve faced so far, and the next steps they’re going to take to make it happen. They gain insight and feedback from the stakeholders and advice on strategy and approach from mentors.
There is also a weekly open session with Sébastien and all the other participants from the School of AI in which the participants discuss their projects. This is a good opportunity to share progress with the others and helpful for the participants to compare approaches, challenges, and development.
Our programme provides an open space for a lot of peer learning as well. Participants can propose a topic like Cloud Computing or Reinforcement Learning and talk about it with the other students, the faculty advisors, and Programme Director, creating an open discourse and sharing ideas.
On top of that, the participants also receive tutorials on how to best use programmes like Scikit or AWS from the Programme Director.
During their time at Pi School, the participants have the opportunity to learn how to pitch directly from Marco Trombetti and Jamshid Alamuti. While the first focuses on how to present information and clearly explain a project in a few minutes, the latter explores their presentation and soft skills. We also host exclusive talks for the participants with speakers like Ben Smith from inReach, or Alex Casalbon from Amazon. An interesting talk from last’s fall batch was held by Harry Clifford, Co-Founder and CTO at Cambridge Cancer Genomics, who spoke about how his startup applies machine learning to genomic data to refine cancer treatment protocols. The programme offers both a hands-on and educational approach for the students.
During the time the participants are in Rome, they have the opportunity to join any of the Campus’ events, such as roundtables with guests like the astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti for example, or any community parties, like the ones traditionally hosted on Halloween or Carnival, to name a few.
In the previous Batch, we hosted a Hackathon together with the Italian National Notary Association, Notartel, with the task to alleviate certain processes like data classification and document scanning. Being here during that time, the participants had the opportunity to join, and work in teams to come up with proposals for AI-based solutions, later presented at the Notary Annual Conference.
The projects that the students work on in the eight weeks they are here, are given by companies, including industry leaders like Cisco, American Express, Soldo, Amazon, Poste Italiane, BNL, Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale, PwC, Xriba, KingCom, and Translated. A few interesting projects include detecting bots on Twitter for Cisco, transcribing medieval manuscripts from the Vatican with deep learning technology, and improving the accuracy of translations for Translated.
Every day around 17:30 the participants wrap up and often go out to dinner together. On the weekends they have time to explore the historically rich city with each other.
"The things I earned in all aspects are beyond my words. That’s why I like to offer my heartfelt thanks." - Chamin Nalinda
By the end of the programme, the participants have formed a closely-knit group, bonding over their enthusiasm for artificial intelligence and the tech world. On the last day, we host an event in which the groups present their final results to their sponsors and then have a networking cocktail together.
After the batch is over, the community that was established lives on, and we keep in touch with all the participants, sending them potential job-offerings or updates on upcoming programmes and events. They have built their own network of contacts as well, often even being hired by their sponsoring companies after accomplishing their project.
The School of Artificial Intelligence is a community of people with the same passion for artificial intelligence and coding to come together and work on interesting projects. If you share the same passion join our next batch here and become part of it!
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