Summer camp often stirs memories of campfires and cabins – but not always. In August 2019, PPG and the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania joined forces to create the PPG Artificial Intelligence Pathways Institute (AIPI) & Teen Accelerator program. And, it is not your average summer camp.
Coding robots, exploring PPG innovation labs and solving health and environmental challenges with artificial intelligence (AI) technology set this program apart and created a unique and fun learning environment and experience.
Shaping the future of technology
Today, AI increasingly shapes the future of technology across the globe, and even in our PPG communities. The student participants discovered this first-hand by exploring the impact of AI on society. Challenged to use AI to identify, design and develop a prototype to solve a community problem, the program matched the students’ passion for technology with project-based hands-on learning, mentorship and networking opportunities – all while building personal confidence and gaining exposure to future career paths.
“We are helping students from historically underrepresented groups in these fields develop technical skills and confidence in their abilities, while encouraging them to build personal and professional connections with a diverse group of peers who share similar passions,” said Dr. Lisa M. Abel-Palmieri, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania.
PPG employees support students
With the help of 75 PPG IT employees, the students were introduced to computer programming specific to robotics, coding, human-centered design and other topics and toured PPG’s Coatings Innovation Center (CIC) in Allison Park, Pennsylvania. Their work culminated into a public showcase and awards day held at PPG’s Pittsburgh headquarters where the students presented their prototypes to their families, school administration, local government officials and PPG employees.
According to Chris Caruso, vice president of Information Technology at PPG, the program opened a new door for young people to discover IT and AI possibilities. “This program is an incredible way for our PPG employee volunteers to have a positive impact on the lives, and minds, of our region’s future tech leaders and innovators,” said Caruso.
If you ask some PPG IT professionals, the best part about technology is watching people put it to good use. This concept ignited the inaugural program to make a lasting impact in the local community.