Introduction to Machine Learning Scholarship Program for Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Scholarship Recipient

I’d like to share stories for the Machine Learning Scholarship Program for Microsoft Azure in Udacity. The Phase 1 program ran from July 8th to September 30th in 2020.

It was one of the most motivational programs in Udacity since 10,000 students all around the world participated with great supports from Microsoft and Udacity. Because “Community Leadership” is the goal of this program, I was able to naturally learn the positive atmosphere that emphasized learning together energy.

Can you imagine how many ideas can be shared among enthusiastic 10,000 students? ๐Ÿ™‚

I was very moved by sincere supports from Microsoft and Udacity. They made miracles for 10,000 students. Palak Sadani is the community leader of this program and she has done awesome works during this 3 months journey. The interactions between people were very special and great advantages here compared to any other learning programs. I felt like I was back in university since there were many special learning events with students.

Thanks to this program, I’ve learned very much by following the learning activities here and I could get the Phase 2 scholarship. I’d like to introduce this program and want to share my personal story during this journey. I hope this post can provide some helpful information to people who are interested in this program.

1. A Brief Introduction for Phase 1 & Phase 2

There are 2 phases for this special scholarship program. In the first phase, applicants will submit about their current knowledge in data science and why they need to particiate in this program. 10,000 students won the 1st phase scholarship.

You can find more information for this scholarship program by referring to the below link.

In the 1st phase, students will learn about machine learning concepts and Azure cloud platforms. Also students can do the hands-on within the Azure environments.

Here, slack is the very important communication channel so students can follow interesting events and learn together. There are great official events but also students voluntarily have created their own learning events.

After the completion of 1st phase, 300 students will win the 2nd phase scholarships for Microsoft Machine Learning Engineer Nanodegree program. This time the program began on October 13th.

“This new Nanodegree program offers students the opportunity to develop deeper technical skills in machine learning (ML). Students will strengthen their skills by building and deploying sophisticated ML models using Azure Machine Learning. They will learn how to train ML models, manage ML pipelines, and tune hyperparameters to improve model performance. Once the model is ready, students will learn how to operationalize the model with the right MLOps practices, including automation, CI/CD, and monitoring” according to the Julia White Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure.

2. Special Highlights in Phase 1

There were special highlights in Phase 1.

  • Enthusiastic Students with Diverse Backgrounds, the Community Power

I’ve joined in two study groups during this program and I could meet interesting people there. A Data Science Consultant, a Robotics Engineer, a Healthcare Tech-Lead, a Tableau Expert, a Cloud Solution Architect Expert …etc from the US, Morocco, India, Korea …etc. Every Sunday from 9 am to 11 am, I studied one machine learning book and one Kaggle competition challenge in the study group. We’ve learn many things by studying together, which would be difficult to do if I were alone.

There were many many active students in many slack channels. For several topics such as kaggle, career, learning subjects, technical issues … there were many slack channels to support all the brilliant ideas. Various youtube links, technical posts … are shared for many times.

There is such a saying in the proverb, “Two heads are better than one”. How about 10,000 students ideas? Creativity exploded ๐Ÿ™‚

Also I really loved the stories from “Student Story Challenge” of this program. There are many great people even though situations are hard these days but keep studying hard. I felt that this program made people all over the world into one community.

  • Motivational Events & Supports

Usually when students take online courses, they study by themselves. There are not many human interactions.

But here, there are many many many human interactions on slack. Palak, who is the community manager of this program, has actively communicated with students all around the world. I’ve often gotten many motivational announcements from her during this program.

As you can see the above slack message, there were many motivational events or challenges for students so it’s easier to keep the learning progress steadily.

Also students can create more official / unofficial events if needed, so actually there were more events.

  • Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Opportunity

Students can learn machine learning theories and also Microsoft Azure solutions on their cloud platform. Since Microsoft is one of the leading IT companies in the world, the concepts are really interesting and trendy. For example, Automated Machine Learning and AI Explainability are really important topics in Machine Learning. Students can take relevant courses and can do hands-on to practice those important solutions on Azure.

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Automated Machine Learning

Also there was a special QnA live webinar to meet Microsoft experts.

3. Conclusion

As I participated in this program, I felt that many people are changing their lives through learning. It is a very difficult situation around the world because of the pandemic, but I hope that many people could find good inspiration and empowerment to create new opportunities from this motivational scholarship program which strongly emphasizes the community during the learning journey.

I would like to conclude this post with one famous quote from Microsoft President Satya Nadella,

“Finally, I truly believe that each of us must find meaning in our work. The best work happens when you know that it’s not just work, but something that will improve other people’s lives.”

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