AAAI-22 Undergraduate Consortium

Collocated with the Thirty-Sixth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Vancouver, BC, Canada
February 22 – March 1, 2022

Sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

Submission deadline extended to October 10, 2021!

Description

The AAAI Undergraduate Consortium (AAAI-UC) aims to broaden participation in the AI research community of students from historically marginalized groups and those who may otherwise not attend a top research conference by supporting them with mentorship, advising, and networking as an accelerator toward their pursuit of graduate school, AI research, and a scientific identity.

The Undergraduate Consortium hosted at the 2022 AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-22) will offer undergraduate students an opportunity to enrich their conference experience by:

  • presenting and receiving critical feedback about their work in a professional, academic setting;
  • meeting prospective graduate advisors;
  • receiving mentoring about the advantages (and overcoming the challenges) of pursuing graduate studies in AI as well as practical early career advice;
  • expanding their professional network to include AI experts, current graduate students, and undergraduate peers; and
  • providing advice, tools, and resources for successfully applying to and attending graduate school in AI-related research.

Each accepted student receives a matched faculty mentor, complimentary conference registration, and a travel scholarship. Accepted students are expected to:

  • Communicate with UC Chairs about program logistics.
  • Meet with their assigned mentor to discuss their research career path, receive feedback, and prepare a camera-ready copy and a presentation of their research summary.
  • Attend the day-of UC events, and engage in AAAI conference events and student activities.

All undergraduates registered for AAAI-22, regardless of whether they are accepted, are invited to attend the day-of UC talks and panel sessions! For reference, the schedule of events and activities from the 2021 AAAI-UC is available here.

Target Audience

The primary goal of the program is to broaden participation in AI research through mentorship and support for the conference experience. We especially encourage applications from students who identify with groups that computing has traditionally underserved and also students who have limited resources related to AI research and graduate school at their home institutions.

The target audience for the AAAI UC is actively-enrolled undergraduate students (working toward their first post-secondary degree) who:

  • Identify with groups historically marginalized in computing/AI research (e.g., marginalized gender and racial/ethnic identities, students with disabilities, students from low socioeconomic status, first-generation college students, and intersections of these groups and others);
  • Have completed/contributed to an AI research project (any AI research project–not necessarily a paper published at AAAI); and
  • Are at an inflection point in their AI research career, where support and feedback from a mentor will add unique value and support for their interest in pursuing AI research after graduation.

Undergraduate students who are interested in publication, scholarships and volunteering, but not explicitly in mentorship, are invited to explore these additional opportunities (some links coming soon!):

Students who are not actively-enrolled undergraduate students or have already graduated from their undergraduate program as of the UC application deadline are not eligible for the Undergraduate Consortium. Graduate students interested in mentorship opportunities are strongly encouraged to consider the AAAI Doctoral Consortium.

Important Dates

  • October 10, 2021: Submission deadline extended!
  • Late November, 2021: Decisions announced
  • Feb. 22, 2022: Undergraduate Consortium (tentative date)

After decisions are announced, students paired with mentors as part of the UC will have additional deadlines (TBA), to coordinate logistics.

Application Instructions

Applications must be submitted in full via the submission portal by 11:59:59pm UTC-12 (Anywhere on Earth) on the stated deadline date. Application materials should not be anonymized. Please see our UC 2022 site for more information when available.

1. Personal Statement

The AAAI UC personal statement is inspired by NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program. We hope that constructing a thoughtful personal statement and receiving feedback from AI professionals will be helpful for your future graduate school and fellowship applications.

Prepare a 2-3 page personal statement that discusses both (1) your journey towards an AI research career (so far!) and (2) your specific role and contributions in the AI project you presented in your Research Summary (see 2. AI Research Summary, below). Please structure your statement however you would like, but include answers to the following questions.

Your journey towards an AI research career:

  • What led to your interest in AI research, and to your project in particular?
  • What barriers, if any, have you encountered and/or overcome in your pursuit of AI research?
  • What fascinates you about your research area? What interests you about continuing with AI research after graduation?
  • What unique characteristics could you bring to an AI research career?
  • What do you hope to gain from participating in the UC and receiving mentorship?
  • What do you think you can contribute to the UC?

Your specific role and contributions in the AI project:

  • Please give a short synopsis (2-3 sentences) of the AI project presented in your Research Summary, using language that a broad audience within AI can understand.
  • Did you work in a team and/or independently?
  • What were your specific contributions to this research project? For instance, in what ways did you assist in the design or implementation of algorithms, assist in the design or implementation of an evaluation of a research question, contribute to the analysis of results, or otherwise contribute specific ideas to the project?

Please be specific in your answers. Details can help readers understand and appreciate your interests, experiences, and contributions in the context of AI research.

Formatting

Personal statements must be written using the NSF GRFP statement formatting guidelines, which require standard 8.5″x 11″ page size, Times New Roman font for all text, no smaller than 11-point (except text that is part of an image), 1″ margins on all sides, and no less than single spacing (approximately 6 lines per inch).

2. AI Research Summary

Submit a 2-page extended abstract that summarizes a significant AI project in which you have been involved, including the research questions investigated, some important related work, the significance of your work, and possible future directions. Please be mindful of the following:

  • Your research summary must be written entirely by you. It should not contain passages written by others, including research teammates or collaborators, without attribution; it is customary to use the first person voice in the research summary. Even if your research project is collaborative and manuscripts supporting it have multiple authors, you should be the sole listed author for your research summary. You are encouraged, however, to have your advisor review it and provide feedback before submitting your application.
  • The audience for your research summary will include people who are knowledgeable about AI without expertise in the narrow topic of your project. Introduce the content at a high-enough level so that the general AAAI audience can understand your work, but also include enough low-level detail so that an expert reader will appreciate your unique contributions. Low-level details include how you conducted your research, the types of experiments you ran, the literature you reviewed, the data you collected and analyzed, and what results you found might mean.
  • Include an informative title for your work (please do not title it “Research Summary”).
  • Your research summary may be (but does not need to be) based on work included in a paper submitted to AAAI-22 or another conference/journal. Your research summary will be reviewed by the AAAI-UC program committee, and decisions will be made independently of the outcomes of any related full-paper submissions.

The research summary MUST be at most 2 pages, including references, in AAAI 2-column format, using the AAAI-22 Author Kit (Also, see Formatting, immediately below). Yes, this is tricky to do — but learning how to produce a concise statement of your research interests is very important!

Formatting

Your AI Research Summary must be written using the AAAI-22 Author Kit.

Advisor’s Supplementary Information Form

A request will be emailed to an advisor of your choice who can speak towards your AI research interests and abilities, asking them to provide supplementary information about you. They will be asked short questions about your contributions to the research described in the summary; your progress through your undergrad program; and how your advisor believes you can contribute to, and benefit from, participating in the UC. The advisor you select to receive the Supplementary Information form should be a faculty member, post-doc, or professional researcher with a graduate degree who can speak to all of these points.

When selecting an advisor, your best option is likely the first person you’d ask to write a graduate school or fellowship letter of recommendation. The advisor does not necessarily need to be from your home institution, nor do they necessarily need to have supervised the project you decide to write about. You should work with your advisor to provide them with any necessary supplementary information.

Advisor supplementary information forms will be sent out shortly after the application submission deadline, and they are expected to be completed within a week. No letters of recommendation will be accepted.

Review Criteria

Applications will be reviewed according to the following criteria: clarity and completeness of submission packet; stage of progress through undergraduate degree program; evidence of significant personal contributions to an AI research project; assessment of distinctive benefit from UC participation and mentorship, in support of continuing in post-graduate AI research; and assessment of contributions to others participating in the UC.

Acknowledgments

Support for the 2022 Undergraduate Consortium is graciously provided by AAAI, with additional support generously provided by the Artificial Intelligence Journal and National Science Foundation (DUE 1946637).

Undergraduate Consortium Chair

Eric Aaron, Colby College
Eliana Valenzuela-Andrade, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo
aaai22ucchairs@aaai.org

Undergraduate Consortium Organizing Committee

  • Outgoing chairs:
    • Jim Boerkoel, Harvey Mudd College
    • Memo Ergezer, Wentworth Institute of Technology
  • Malihe Alikhani, University of Pittsburgh
  • Sloan Davis, Google Research
  • Nate Derbinsky, Northeastern University
  • Richard G. Freedman, SIFT
  • Maria Gini, University of Minnesota
  • Michael Guerzhoy, University of Toronto
  • Ayanna Howard, The Ohio State University
  • Maria Hwang, Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Irina Rabkina, Occidental College
  • Anna Rafferty, Carleton College
  • Anita Raja, Hunter College, City University of New York
  • Lisa Torrey, St. Lawrence University

For more information about past AAAI-UC events, please visit: https://aaai-uc.github.io/

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