The Excellence Programme is an initiative of FAECTOR to gather highly motivated and well-performing students and give them multiple perspectives on an econometric topic. This year's topic is Econometrics & Artificial Intelligence, a highly relevant topic as technology is developing in an extreme pace. We asked two participants of this year's programme, Eva van Rooijen and Geert Oosterbroek, what they think of the programme so far!
Can you explain what the Excellence Programme exactly is and what kind of things you do during this programme?
Geert & Eva: The programme starts in block 3 and ends in block 5. Every week there is a session (except for the exam weeks). We mainly have lectures on the general theme of this year, which is Artificial Intelligence. In each lecture, we study a different topic within the field of Artificial Intelligence extensively. In this way, we get a really good overview of all the aspects of the field! Besides the lectures, we wrote three papers during the programme and we followed multiple workshops. Furthermore, we visited companies like Google and Aegon, and we will still visit a lab devoted to robotics located in Belgium.
What was the most fun activity in this programme so far?
Eva: This is a very tough question... I really liked the boat trip in Amsterdam, mainly because it was a nice opportunity to socialise. Moreover, I found the lecture on fairness in specific Artificial Intelligence models particularly interesting. But, I think the most fun activity was the writing of my first paper together with Yixun. Our topic was the impact of Artificial Intelligence in the energy industry, and brainstorming about this topic was so much fun. I think this programme as a whole is just very enjoyable, because we all chose to participate out of motivation instead of obligation.
Geert: First of all, it is very interesting to see the real-life applications of the modern techniques in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, the company visits really gave me an insight in the way of doing business within this specific field. The visits to Google and Aegon were therefore very interesting and fun.
What did you learn during the programme?
Eva: I have learned to actively participate during lectures by asking questions. I think the small scale of the programme allows for this kind of active and hands-on atmosphere. Furthermore, I have learned a lot about Artificial Intelligence, both on academic level and the real-life applications of these.
Geert: People tend to overuse the terms Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, without even knowing what they entail exactly. Therefore, it was really interesting to expand my knowledge about these fields and their applications in today's businesses.
We heard that you even 'sailed' on a self-driving boat. How was that?
Geert & Eva: It was so nice and relaxed. The sun was shining, some nice music was playing, and drinks and snacks were present: All the ingredients for a nice afternoon were there! We even met the delevopers of the boat and we had some nice discussions about Artificial Intelligence and their new projects!
Would you recommend the Excellence Programme to others?
Eva: If you find next year's topic interesting, I would for sure recommend you to sign up for the programme. The fact that you will be in a group with other highly-motivated students with a particular interest for the topic is one of the best aspects of the programme!
Geert: For sure! This programme serves as a bridge between students and companies. Moreover, one really expands its knowledge about an econometric topic, which is often not really discussed in regular lectures. The workload of the programme is doable and the general programme allows one to practice and gain skills which can be used in the future!
Would you like to help develop and organise this Excellence Programme next year? You can apply for the Excellence Programme committee until May 30 here.