Statistics MSc students win AI scholarships

December 13, 2018 by Dee Keilholz

Congratulations to statistics MSc students llan Kogan and David Veitch for being awarded Vector Scholarships in Artificial Intelligence (VSAI).

The prestigious $17,500 scholarship includes invitations to special events and networking opportunities with industry, scholars, government and other universities.  

This year's competition resulted in 66 Vector Scholarships in AI being awarded to exceptional master’s students from nine Ontario universities studying in AI-related programs.  

The Department of Statistical Sciences asked David and Ilan how this scholarship is going to make a difference for their research and career.  



What excites you the most about winning this scholarship? 

IK: Being recognized among such a brilliant set of Canadian artificial intelligence students is humbling. I am very much looking forward to meeting the others and seeing what we can work on together. 

DV: I am particularly looking forward to the events and networking opportunities I will get access to as a Vector Scholar. Toronto, and the Vector Institute in particular, have so many exciting things happening in machine learning, and I hope that through this award I can better tap into them.  

On a personal note, the award is also very encouraging and makes me even more excited to continue my studies.  


Is there a particular research project this scholarship will help support? 

IK: What is so wonderful about this program is that it is not tied to one specific project. Instead, I have the flexibility to explore. Besides the technical work that I am sure this initiative will yield, I am hoping it will also facilitate opportunities to become more involved in Canada’s artificial intelligence and innovation policy—a topic I am deeply interested in. 

DV: I am currently working on a research project looking at how machine learning can be applied to finance. Coming from a finance background it is very exciting to see the many ways machine learning can – and is – being used to transform the industry. 


What draws you to AI?  

IK: Today’s massive reserves of data are rapidly changing the world around us. Artificial intelligence is the present and the future.  

DV: What excites me most is the broad applicability of AI-related technologies. When a lot of people think of AI, they think of Google or Facebook, but the reality is that firms in every sector of the economy are getting involved. I met someone the other day from XpertSea who is using computer vision to count the number of shrimp larvae in a bucket to better estimate shrimp populations at hatcheries. How cool is that! 


Is there an area within AI research you’re especially interested in?  

IK: My interests are primarily focused on the application of machine learning towards problems in industry and the non-profit sphere. 

DV: I am particularly interested in unsupervised learning. There is something particularly exciting about letting the data speak for itself.  


Why would you recommend to other grad students interested in AI to apply for this scholarship? 

IK: I do not think I have ever applied to a scholarship that had such a good return for the time invested. 

DV: Since this award is targeted at master’s students, I think it makes sense for those looking to continue in their studies to apply for it. In my case, I am applying to PhD programs right now and having an award like this will hopefully strengthen my applications.  



About the Vector Scholarships in Artificial Intelligence (VSAI) 

To assist universities in recruiting top talent and deepening applicant pools, Vector has introduced the VSAI. These merit-based awards recognize top candidates pursuing studies in a recognized AI-related master’s program or an individualized study path that is demonstrably AI-focused. Meritorious candidates must be nominated by their program; they cannot apply directly.