As a woman working in information technology (IT) for many years, it has always been close to my heart to challenge long-standing gender stereotypes and inspire more young learners to consider a career in tech. With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) defining the future of technology, this future also depends on diverse representation.
The World Economic Forum estimates that technological advances and automation will create 97 million new technology jobs by 2025, including in the field of AI and ML. Yet, according to their research, women make up just 32% of AI jobs globally. The Pew Research Center found that Black and Hispanic workers in the U.S. comprise just 9% and 8% of workers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers respectively.
At Amazon, we believe that technology should be built in a way that’s inclusive, diverse, and equitable. We already offer STEM programs to enable underrepresented groups to build or advance their technical skills and open up new career possibilities. Programs such as We Power Tech, Amazon Future Engineer, AWS Girls’ Tech Day, and AWS GetIT aim to build a future of tech that is inclusive, diverse, and accessible.
Today, I am excited to announce the launch of the AWS AI & ML Scholarship program in collaboration with Intel and Udacity, designed to prepare underrepresented and underserved students globally for careers in ML.
AWS AI & ML Scholarship Program Debuts with AWS DeepRacer Student
The AWS AI & ML Scholarship program is launching as part of the all-new AWS DeepRacer Student service and Student League. This is a new student division of the popular AWS DeepRacer program, a cloud-based 3D car racing simulator that provides a fun way to learn about ML and reinforcement learning (RL). Through DeepRacer Student, you have access to free online trainings to learn the ML and RL basics. You also have access to 10 hours of model training and 5 GB of storage per month to participate in the DeepRacer Student League, a global autonomous racing competition exclusively for AWS AI & ML students.
As part of DeepRacer Student, the AWS AI & ML Scholarship program in collaboration with Intel and Udacity is geared toward underserved and underrepresented high school and college students globally who are at least 16 years old. These are students who may have faced financial barriers growing up or are part of underrepresented groups, including women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ persons, as well as people of color. Students in these groups who take part in the DeepRacer Student League are eligible for a chance to win one or two of 2,500 annual scholarships from Udacity, an online learning platform focused on technology skills.
How to Qualify for the AWS AI & ML Scholarship
To be considered for a scholarship, you must successfully finish all AWS DeepRacer Student learning modules and achieve a score of at least 80% on all course quizzes, reach a certain lap time performance with your DeepRacer car in the Student League, and submit an essay.
Each year, 2,000 students will win a scholarship to the AI Programming with Python Udacity Nanodegree program. Udacity Nanodegrees are massive open online courses (MOOCs) designed to bridge the gap between learning and career goals. This aims to equip students with programming and ML fundamentals to solve real world problems with ML. The top 500 participants in this first Nanodegree will be eligible to join a second customized Nanodegree program curated specifically for AWS AI & ML Scholarship program recipients.
Coaching and Mentorship Opportunities for Scholarship Recipients
Scholarship recipients not only get access to the educational content, but also receive up to 85 hours of support from Udacity instructors to make sure that students successfully learn and progress through the Nanodegree. Instructors and students meet weekly in small groups, review the content for the week, answer questions, and work on a case study as a group exercise.
The top 500 participants who advance into the second Nanodegree will receive 12 months of mentorship from tenured technology leaders at Amazon and Intel to help prepare for a tech career.
All scholarship recipients will be given exclusive access to Ask-Me-Anythings (AMAs), fireside chats, and office hours with AI/ML professionals and diversity experts from Amazon, Intel, and AWS collaborators such as Girls in Tech. These will help familiarize students with different job functions in the AI/ML field.
Enroll via AWS DeepRacer Student
To enroll in the AWS AI & ML Scholarship program, first sign up at the AWS DeepRacer Student service with a valid email address. Note that this student player account is separate from an AWS account and doesn’t require you to provide any billing or credit card information.
You will receive a verification code via email. Once you have verified your email address, log in to the DeepRacer Student service and complete the sign-up process.
The form will ask for some additional information, including your school, major, and planned year of graduation. You must also self-certify that you are a student enrolled in either high school, university, or community college.
Next, enroll in the AWS AI & ML Scholarship program by selecting the corresponding checkbox. The scholarship qualification will start on March 1, 2022.
Welcome to AWS DeepRacer Student! Start learning the fundamentals of ML through the provided online trainings. You can also participate in the pre-season DeepRacer Student League before the qualifying races start on March 1, 2022.
Start preparing for the AWS AI & ML Scholarship program by signing up for AWS DeepRacer Student, available globally today, and opt in to the scholarship program. Start learning with learning modules, train your first AWS DeepRacer model, and see how it performs in AWS DeepRacer Student League Pre-season happening now. Join the AWS Slack community to connect with experts and ask questions.