kenn-so-kellogg

A New Student Club Dedicated to Artificial Intelligence

By Kenn So, 2Y 2019

Walking into Kellogg, I never expected that I would go into technology after Kellogg, much less the field of artificial intelligence. I did not even know what a product manager was back then. So it was surprising to me that technology is just as big as consulting. Almost 30% of students go to tech now from just 15% three years ago. Over my two years at Kellogg, I realized how the school gives students the ability to explore and experiment. This led me into artificial intelligence, which I credit to the school’s great tech resources: partnership with Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, the San Francisco Immersion program, and having the support to build AI@Kellogg.

Courses and professors

Professor Adam Pah, who teaches Human and Machine Intelligence, has been supportive of students pursuing independent studies and projects on artificial intelligence. Through him, I was able to do dive deeper into the business of quantum computing, edge computing, and fair machine learning.

I took courses on deep learning and how algorithms affect society at McCormick, just a few minutes’ walk from the Global Hub. The weekly industry AI nights program was a unique opportunity for McCormick master’s in artificial intelligence (MS AI) and Kellogg MBA students to work together. Every Tuesday night at The Garage, Northwestern’s startup hub, partner companies will pitch their problems and in turn we will pitch solutions to them. They had companies from different industries come in every week, from consulting to industrial goods to retail.

Bay Area Winter Immersion program

During my second year, I joined the Bay Area Immersion program. I lived in San Francisco, the world’s artificial intelligence hub. Rework’s Women in AI Dinner, TechCrunch’s Winter Party, and SaaStr is a small sample of events I was able to attend because of being in the Bay Area physically. During the program, I worked at a venture capital firm where I had a direct pulse on the latest in artificial intelligence. Cafes in South Park, San Francisco, buzz with entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to investors, prospective teammates, and fellow entrepreneurs. Across the city, it was apparent how tech is affecting society.

AI@Kellogg

Student clubs in Kellogg change from time to time to reflect the personal and professional interests of students. What’s great about it is that it is student-driven and the school supports it. AI@Kellogg started as a small Slack group (#ai_at_kellogg) during my first year, and now it is 150 members strong with six booked-out events during my second year. I credit AI@Kellogg to the Kellogg network, including the support of fellow student clubs and Alanna Lazarowich, a director of the Kellogg Architecture of Collaboration Initiative.

Because of the Kellogg brand, I was able to invite AI-focused venture capitalists from Zetta Venture and Basis Set Ventures to talk about how AI-first startups have unique business models. Being part of Northwestern, I was able to invite Professor Brent Hecht, an award-winning professor from McCormick, to discuss machine learning fairness and bias; and Graham Siegel, a law school alumnus and serial entrepreneur, to talk about about how his startup is using AI to accelerate clinical trials. Executing all of these would be difficult without the support of other clubs, which co-host the events and the advice and financial support of KACI. Through AI@Kellogg, I built a network of leaders in artificial intelligence — some of whom are now my friends and mentors.