Stronger Together Artificial Intelligence Hackathon poster featuring a robotic hand and human hand reaching out until their index fingers meet and spark light on an abstract background in different shades of blue

Nic Flanagan Testimonial: AI for the Common Good at MTU Cork

My name is Nic Flanagan. I am a PhD student based in the Fine Art and Media Communications departments at MTU. My research is investigating the role that collaborative learning, interdisciplinary research and interaction with innovative technologies can have on creating sustainable professional arts careers when introduced at Higher Educational level.

What drew me to the programme was the potential for interdisciplinary exchange and real-world application of the learning to both my own research and use in future studies. I signed up for the hackathon with minimal theoretical understanding of AI/coding and zero practical skills in the area. I was initially fearful about joining the sessions because of this inexperience. I voiced my concerns to organisers beforehand and was met with the utmost confidence that I would be able to participate.

I never felt out of place during the sessions; there were multiple points of entry to each topic which meant that each participant could work away at their own level, learning from the basics on day one, all the way up to complex ideas regarding the application of learning machines and more on day two.

Beyond the technical understanding and practical skills I learned, which I know will stand to me in my professional practice, the most important thing I took away from AI for the Common Good, was the mentorship from Mike Lloyd in relation to developing our pitches and business structures. His notes were hugely helpful and will translate beyond the two-day course for me. I generally find it quite challenging to grasp technical and theoretical approaches which are rooted in science and mathematics, so I am blown away by what I was able to learn in just two short days and I now have the foundational understanding to develop this interest further.

I would like to thank the entire team who put this series together, Mike Lloyd and members from The British Council, and Haithem and Bruno from MTU. It has been a genuinely revolutionary experience for me and one which I will be incorporating into my research and practice going forward!

Kind regards,

Nic Flanagan