Summer Scholarships for Black Students 2023
Join our growing group of young Black scholars in computing.
Since 2020, we have provided financial support to Black scholars to enable them to experiment in a cutting-edge field, that can help to change the world. Hot technology topics previously covered include: Misinformation, Robotics, Human Computer Interaction, Blockchain and Knowledge Graphs.
Check out the topics on offer for 2023 below.
As a KMi Scholar, you will receive a non-repayable bursary, mentoring, and support from the researchers, students and technicians who work in our project spaces. The bursary can be used to cover living costs or make up for your loss of earnings during the summer while you carry out a project lasting 9 weeks.
The project will start on 1st July 2023 and may be conducted online, at the Open University campus, or both. For 2023 there will be three scholarships awarded. The award to each scholar will be £2,700.
As KMi Scholars, you will create a story for future generations. The KMi team aim to make Black students feel at home in a computer science research environment and demonstrate what computing careers can offer. A scholarship could be a step forward in your career development. It can provide skills and evidence which can be included in applications to study at university or for employment. You will have a chance to explore and develop technologies in a playful way and contribute your ideas to the project.
To apply for the KMi Scholarship you need to read the Terms and Conditions and complete and return the application form by
28th April 2023 (11.59pm) (extended) Sunday 14th May 2023 (11.59pm). Applications should be submitted to Miss Ortenz Rose by email to STEM-KMi-Scholarship@open.ac.uk and she will acknowledge that it has been received.
Which of these challenges excites you?
Challenge 1: Should I read this?
Subject Area: Open Access to Research Papers
Supervisory Team: Matteo Cancellieri and Petr Knoth
How do we know when a scientific paper is really good? How can we measure it?
A big part of being a scientist is sharing the research you've done in a research paper. Scientists learn from reading each other's work and building on that in their own research. Finding the right papers to read and having access to read them can be difficult. At CORE we make that easier by finding research papers and making them more available to researchers worldwide. Until now, we have ~300 million research papers for researchers to explore and read. One of the things we want to do is figure out which papers are best for which researchers, so that we can recommend them. But how will we know which papers are good? Isn't that a personal decision? As it turns out, there may be some indicators of quality papers that we can use to help scientists make good decisions about what to read.
In this project, the scholar will work with the CORE team, collaborate with the Project Manager, Designer, and developers to design and eventually create a prototype of a tool to generate a report on the quality of research papers. There will be a special focus on the characteristics that make a paper accessible to the widest range of people (e.g., reading complexity, accessibility for the visually impaired, structure and clarity indicators etc.). The project will require collaborative work with the supervisors to analyse a limited set of these characteristics and tools that can help identify them (such as WCAG, Grobid format, and bibliographic metrics). Together we will work to prototype an automatically generated report that could give an idea of the objective quality of a paper and ways to improve it.
This project is open to applicants with any level of computing skill, but some basic experience in coding is preferred.
Challenge 2: Exploring the Hallucinations of ChatGPT and Friends
Subject Area: Artificial Intelligence
Supervisory Team: John Domingue and Aisling Third
Does ChatGPT dream of electric sheep?
The large AI models behind recently developed chatbots and AI art generators can end up producing some strange and unintended consequences, like answering a question incorrectly (despite having the correct data available) or producing strange, nonsense images or text. Researchers refer to some of these outputs as "hallucinations." The reasons for hallucination are still not entirely understood. However, we can potentially learn more about why it happens and how to manage it, by exploring the impact of different prompts (what you input to the chatbot or the art generator tool, for example) on the outputs of the tool. "Prompt-engineering", as this is called, is even becoming a new marketable skill to help companies and individuals use this technology more efficiently.
In this project, the scholar will be experimenting with the chatbot known as ChatGPT, released by OpenAI in 2022. The scholar will use ChatGPT to explore a topic of interest (such as Art, Coding, Education, etc.) and the generation of hallucinations in that topic. Then, the scholar will look more closely at the outputs of the system to understand more about a) how one could potentially identify hallucinations or verify the accuracy of the outputs of systems like ChatGPT and b) how to input the best prompts to create or avoid hallucinations to get a desired response. The output will be a document describing the scholar's findings with recommendations for prompt engineering.
This project is open to applicants with any level of skill in computing.
Challenge 3: When AI creativity interacts with haptic touch, what will happen?
Subject Area: Citizen Science and Artificial Intelligence
Supervisory Team: Shuang Ao, Stefan Rueger and Advaith Siddharthan
Generating art and poems about nature
The creation of art and poetry are human activities that evoke certain feelings or memories, and often portray scenes of nature. The state-of-the-art technology ChatGPT and DELL E 2 are famous for generating nearly human-level text and pictures. How good are they at art and poetry? The sense of touch is the first we develop, and central to how we explore the world. What would it be like to explore AI creativity through a haptic touch interface that lets you feel textures?
In this project, you will use ChatGPT and DELL E 2 to generate art and poems about nature, using descriptions that convey several types of textures. Then you will learn how to pre-process images and texts with python, to build an AI generated dataset. Then you will learn or use basic HTML and Java, to help build a haptic interface that allows users to dynamically experience the art and poems based on the texture on the screen being touched.
We will provide an amazing haptic device that works as a stylus on a touchscreen.
Challenge 4: World Domination with Raspberry Pi and The Internet of Things
Subject Area: Internet of Things and Sensors
Supervisory Team: Matteo Cancellieri and David Pride
Designing, Developing and Deploying IoT devices.
Many of the items you use every day - your phone, your watch, your car and possibly even the fridge or washing machine you have at home, are connected to the internet and able to talk to each other. These 'Internet of Things' devices have sensors, software and connectivity, which means they can share information and collect data. This data can be used to make your life easier and more efficient. For example, your smart home appliances can automate tasks, like turning on the lights or heating, or your wearable can track your fitness progress.
But it's not just for personal use, businesses are using IoT technology to transform industries like healthcare, transportation, agriculture, and even entertainment. This project will introduce you to the amazing world that is The Internet of Things. You'll discover how these devices interact and how you can control them using simple software.
In this project, you will be introduced to several different platforms that can be used to develop IoT services such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino. You will then learn how to interface various sensors with these devices. Sensors can detect a huge range of different types of data like temperature, light levels, noise levels, air quality or the movement of people or traffic.
Your final mission will be to develop a prototype IoT device that will collect sensor data, transmit it via the internet and then display this data remotely.
But what will my device do, you say? - that's up to you. We want you to bring your hacker mindset to this project! We will guide you, but the creations and solutions will come from you.
Any basic knowledge of Python is advantageous but not essential.
Key Dates for 2023
- The scholarship projects will start on 1 July and run for 9 weeks until 31 August 2023.
How to Apply
In order to qualify for a scholarship, you must meet all the following criteria:
- Identify as being from a Black background (see Appendix 1 for full details).
- Aged between 16 and 20 years on 31 May 2023.
- Have an interest in technology and sufficient time available during the summer.
- Be ordinarily resident in the UK.
- Be able to provide details of two referees whom we can contact if you are selected for a scholarship (at least one is required from your educational institute, the other can be from a personal referee).
- Be available to carry out a project which will start on 1 July 2023 and run for 9 weeks until 31 August 2023
We will be awarding three scholarships and have created a simple application process.
We will ask you to complete an application form.
- A description of any interest you have in technology, and what relevant skills or experience you have, if any.
- Give an example of when you have worked well in a pair or team or an example of when you have managed your time.
- Which of the three challenges appeal to you and why?
- What time commitment do you think will be needed to carry out a project, and how will you fit this around other commitments during the 6 to 8 weeks?
Prior knowledge of programming is not essential. We value and promote theoretical diversity in computing.
Click here to download the application form
Click here to read the full terms and conditions
Taking part in a scholarship project will enhance employability, develop computer science skills and/or provide a social benefit.
The award will be made by a panel of OU staff and students. The panel will assess applicants' personal statements. Funds are limited, and no guarantee of an award can be made.
What happens at the end of the project?
The results will be shared with KMi, for example, by uploading a report in the OU's Open Research Online repository (ORO), by depositing data or code in the Open Research Data Online repository (ORDO) or by making a short video to show your findings.
KMi is a Computer Science Research & Development Lab. We are a diverse, multi-national bunch passionate about what we do. We treat everyone as a valued team member, be they professors, researchers, post-grad students or other non-academic staff. We believe in research that impacts the real world with real users.
Aims of the Scholarship
Among the visitors who come to KMi every summer, there has been an under-representation of black people. Black people are also under-represented among computer science post-doctoral students. This annual scholarship, aims to improve representation and create greater awareness of computer science research.
Chapter 2 of The Equality Act 2010 allows service providers to take action that may involve treating one group more favourably where this is a proportionate way to help members of that group overcome a disadvantage or participate more fully, or in order to meet needs they have that are different from the population as a whole. This is called 'positive action'.
Email: STEM-KMi-Scholarship@open.ac.uk to express an interest and receive notice when the call opens
Previously supported scholars
Samuel Kwaku Antwi
Project: Identifying influential misinformation about vaccines
Supervisors:Retno Larasati and Tracie Farrell
Project: Building musical knowledge graphs
Supervisor: Enrico Daga and Paul Mulholland
Project: Turning TikTok Content into NFTs
Supervisors: John Domingue, Aisling Third and Michelle Bachler
Project: Misinfo.Me Bot
Supervisors: Tracie Farrell and Lara Piccolo
Project: Benchmarking Environmental Sensors
Supervisor: Lara Piccolo
Project: Robot Assistants in the Wild
Supervisors: Agnese Chiatti and Gianluca Bardaro