Postcard from...Sheffield Education

Artificial intelligence on campus

All-round resources and well-designed modules ensured a holistic experience at the university

For someone from a lower middle-class family in Bengal, the wish to study abroad can easily be a “dream too big”. However, when one desires something and is determined to realise the dream, there is always a way. After completing my ISC, I joined Scottish Church College, Calcutta University, to study B.Sc. Physics (Hons). During my first year there, I kept reaching out to various universities and attended education fairs. Despite great marks, my bank account always frowned at the idea. But desperate in my attempt, I applied.

I was elated when I received an unconditional offer from the University of Sheffield. However, coming to Sheffield would have been impossible if not for the India Merit Scholarship, which is awarded to five undergraduate students from India. Being selected for it seemed like a miracle to me.

I have been coding since the age of eight, and technology continues to fascinate me. I applied to study B.Sc. artificial intelligence and computer science with a year in industry. With the present trend in technological progress, AI is surely the future. Unlike what most people think, AI isn’t just about making robots act like humans. Rather, it is also behind every little thing we do, may be even a simple Google search. To work with AI, one needs knowledge in philosophy and psychology, which are a part of the course. The university is one of the few reputed universities to offer this course at the undergraduate level.

I am studying in a department with over 40 teaching staff, and each of them has their own areas of specialisation. Their expertise is reflected in the manner in which they approach topics. How making paper planes can help understand agile methodology of software development, is something I couldn’t have guessed otherwise. Students are provided with all-round resources starting from lecture notes to software. Modules are designed in a manner in which everyone from a beginner to an experienced person can learn from. We learn the most when we learn with the least pressure. However, simply learning will be useless without application. Hence, utmost care is taken so that we are also equipped for the the industry.

I always wanted to study in a place where I can grow as a person and not just a professional. The university and the city provide the best ambience for that. Sheffield is one of the friendliest places to be in, and moreover, the university also founded the #WeAreInternational campaign which celebrates the contribution international students bring to the U.K.

The music scene is amazing for any budding musician. Being a percussionist, I have played at band competitions and pubs here. One can have a perfect night life that suits one’s tastes — be it retro music, reggae night, or the top current club list, there are multiple options to choose from.

The best part here is that it is never just about academics, but also the various opportunities for all-round development. Being an international engineering ambassador as well as an ambassador for the department of computer science has been enriching experience.

Ritwesh Chatterjee is a second-year student of B.Sc. artificial intelligence and computer science with a year in industry, from the University of Sheffield.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 6:25:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/artificial-intelligence-on-campus/article19895299.ece

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