Google students postpone AI symposium due to corona

TU Delft now has a Developers Student Club (DSC) supported by Google. Their first activity, a symposium on machine learning open to all, was postponed due to corona.

Matas Rastenis, Luka Dubravica, and Roman Sirokov from DSC Delft. (Photo: Sija van den Beukel)

DSC Delft is the first of its kind in the Netherlands. Computer science student Roman Sirokov (21) from Estonia founded the Developers Student Club when the DSC programme opened up worldwide in May last year. 

The idea of university-based community groups for students interested in Google developer technologies started in India in 2017. It quickly spread from there to hundreds of clubs worldwide.

DSC Delft, as the club is called, has about 20 members, most of whom study computer sciences at the EEMCS Faculty. They love to talk about software development for the web or for mobile applications. Google provides experts who give talks or provides content for talks.

“We are powered by Google,” says DSC lead organiser Roman Sirokov, “but we are a self-sustained club with our own ways to manage and operate.”

Machine learning symposium

The DSC took the initiative to branch out to students from other faculties as well. At the founding meeting in November last year, about 60 people filled in a questionnaire on their interests. High on the list was machine learning, or artificial intelligence (AI). So the DSC chose that topic for the three-day symposium in March.

The event is not cancelled. A new date is not yet determined

But then, disaster struck. Three of the seven invited speakers from Germany cancelled the visit due to concerns on the coronovirus. The organisation then decided to do a poll on Facebook to see whether or not to cancel the event.

“The majority (82%; 27 out of 33) voted for postponing, to my surprise”, wrote Sirokov. He added: “The event is not cancelled. A new date is not yet determined.”

Communities and exposure

Is the club also a recruitment platform for Google? “I wouldn’t say so,” Sirokov responds. “Google developers, the organisation behind the DSCs, is managed by Google employees. They develop multiple programs for non-Google employees (GDGGDEDSC) to create community of developers interested in Google’s products. That does not necessarily include recruiting people.”

So what is Google getting out of this movement? “Exposure, I guess,” says Sirokov. “They genuinely want students to gain knowledge about Google technologies. But they don’t put any restraints on us.” 

Since TU Delft has declined to be an official partner in the programme, the club could not use the university’s name, and settled for DSC Delft instead.

Luka Dubravica, Matas Rastenis, and Roman Sirokov from DSC Delft. (Photo: Sija van den Beukel)
Science editor Jos Wassink

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