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Smart Photo Booth - New workshops in computer science

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Published on Monday, 03 May 2021

Discover the new computer science workshop for high-school students (15-19 years old) that will be offered five times between 7 June and 9 July. Registrations are open starting today!

Together with the AI Robolab of the University of Luxembourg, the Scienteens Lab will offer five workshops in computer science in June and July 2021. Designed for high-school students, these new workshops aim to spark their interest in programming. Hands-on activities will render computer science both accessible and fun, while short presentations and discussions with researchers will highlight that programming can be applied in countless fields and is linked to many job opportunities. The development of these workshops is funded by the National Research Fund (FNR) as part of the PSP-Classic programme.

Discover AI through art

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become part of our daily life: It is frequently mentioned in the media and it is incorporated into the computers, tablets, smartphones and websites we so frequently use. It is therefore important to familiarise young generations with the topic, explain what AI is and showcase how it works. “This brand-new workshop combines AI and art to engage high-school students of all ages, genders and backgrounds,” details Dr Sana Nouzri, the researcher at the Department of Computer Science of the university who created the workshop. “Working with images and transforming photos into cool artworks makes it easy to understand the power of computational methods.” As one of the tools used during the workshop, called the Smart Photo Booth, is similar to an interactive version of the widely popular Snapchat filter, teenagers also have a lot of fun exploring it.

The main activity is based on the Neural Style Transfer System (NST), a class of software applications that manipulates digital images to create artificial artworks by applying the style of famous paintings, such as Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci or one of Van Gogh’s self-portraits. First the pupils get familiar with concepts such as algorithms, machine learning or deep neural networks, then they can use a pre-trained model of NST to generate a portrait based on a selfie and a specific artistic style. Finally, they also discover how to train the model, to tune parameters and improve the quality of the output.

Hands-on experiments, pros and cons, and real-life applications

Other hands-on activities involve creating small games to explore algorithm design, coding and the difference between AI methods and classic programming. During the workshop, the researchers present examples of real-world applications as well and explain how AI technologies affects our daily lives. They invite the participants to reflect on the advantages and the dangers of these technologies, discussing for example the implications of being able to create high quality images from scratch. 

On top of learning how intelligent machines are trained and discovering the AI techniques behind everyday applications, the participants get the opportunity to acquire some basic programming skills and to sharpen their critical thinking. Prof. Jean-Marc Schlenker, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine, concludes: “These workshops will offer students a direct link to very recent developments in Artificial Intelligence, but also a playful introduction to computer science. We hope that this discovery of researchers and research will pique their interest and create vocations!”

Five half-day workshops will be offered between 7 June and 9 July.
To register, go to Appointy and select “Computer Science”.

Practical information:
Languages: English and French
Age range: 15 to 19 years old 
Duration: 3 hours
Location: at the Scienteens Lab, on Campus Belval