Ashoka University, a private liberal arts college in Sonipat, Haryana, is looking to expand its play in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The institute plans to set up a Centre for Data Analytics to deepdive into data analytics and focus on research across categories such as food and nutrition, health, epidemiology, malnutrition, sustainability and climate change. Funds have already been sanctioned for setting up this data centre, that will be partly hosted on cloud, and partly in private.
According to Prof Subhashis Banerjee, Head of Department, Computer Science, Ashoka University, hosting the data centre on the cloud will allow the institute access to specific tools “at a quick notice.” “AI and data analytics are the future. And our upcoming data centre is expected to aid research specially in areas of health, food and nutrition, sustainability, among other segments,” he said. The launch is expected in the next few months.
The institute already has two data centres, — Centre for Political Data and Centre for Economic Data Analysis. Subjects of interest would include malnutrition and the effect of food habits, economic conditions, and other factors that lead to stunted growth in children. Plans are afoot to approach the NITI Aayog too, for help with data (specially at district and block levels).
Talks are on with healthcare major Max Healthcare as it looks at personalised data mapping of patients.
The move is expected to help Ashoka University take forward research (and impact studies) on issues of chronic health diseases, triple negative breast cancer, diabetes, among others. “We are in touch with the doctors of Max Healthcare. The collaboration towards data analytics, mapping and research work for probable solutions should start around January or February,” Banerjee added.
Last year, Ashoka University collaborated with IT company, Mphasis, to set up a laboratory for machine learning and computational thinking, through a grant of ₹10 crore from Mphasis F1 Foundation, the CSR arm of the company. The Mphasis Laboratory for Machine Learning and Computational Thinking will apply machine learning and design thinking towards research work, proofofconcept of systems/prototypes with a potential for large societal impact. The university is also upping its PhD enrolment programme, with the AI ecosystem coming in place.
As of now it has 75 students in its computer science course (undergraduate) and around five to six PhD programme students in the segment. “Upping the PhD programmes will be among our top priorities and the AI ecosystem will play a key role in it. The research will see everyday application, impact daily life, among other issues,” he said.
Prashanth Kaddi, Partner, Deloitte India says educational institutes across technical and management areas are creating custom courses, certifications or a center for learning in AI/ML. While there are some specialising in this space only. “As there is a huge gap in the number of professionals available to the demand for AI//ML skills, the courses, content and richness have significantly grown in the AI/ML education space,” he said, adding that this trend has not only increased the spread and focus on knowledge (in AI /ML), but it has also given opportunities for midcareer professionals to become associated with data science.
“Apart from this, the edtech sector has also created a lot of certifications and courses, as well as some specialised organisations which are looking at hackathons and other opportunities to be better,” Kaddi maintained.