ML Classes and Internships for Black & Indigenous Students and Recent Grads

Vector Institute is committed to developing programming for Black and Indigenous students, postdocs, and recent graduates to build research and expand career pathways in AI for historically underrepresented groups. In 2021, Vector launched a machine learning course and AI internships to accelerate and expand access to knowledge of AI to Black and Indigenous students and postdocs in Canada. The programming provides relevant, hands-on learning and work experience in machine learning and AI. It is designed to meet the criteria of Special Programs in line with the values of the Ontario Human Rights Code to assist underrepresented groups to achieve equal opportunity in the field of AI.

Introduction to Machine Learning for Black and Indigenous Students and Postdocs

The application period for the Fall 2022 course has now closed.

Participate in a free nine week online Introduction to Machine Learning course starting October 2022. The course will introduce common machine learning algorithms such as linear and logistic regression, random forests, decision trees, neural networks, support vector machines, and boosting. It will also offer a broad overview of model-building and optimization techniques that are based on probabilistic building blocks which will serve as a foundation for more advanced machine learning courses. Featuring two hours of lectures/workshops per week, as well as weekly tutorials to help you further assimilate the material, this course will provide a rich, hands-on learning environment.

At the conclusion of the course, you will complete a capstone project and presentation. A Best Capstone Award of $500 will be given to the top three capstone papers and presentations. Check out last year’s capstone presentations on our YouTube channel.

As a part of this program, you will:

  • Receive a comprehensive introduction to Machine Learning;
  • Gain access to Vector’s weekly research talks with world class faculty and researchers;
  • Participate in career development programming with companies driving AI adoption;
  • Acquire in-demand skills and build meaningful connections to people working and doing research in AI;
  • Gain foundational knowledge and preparation in ML to apply to a Vector internship for Black and Indigenous students;
  • Receive a $500 award upon successful completion of the course; and
  • Earn a professional development certificate of completion.

This course is being offered to individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • You are a self-identified Black or Indigenous student or postdoc (Indigenous ancestry or heritage – First Nations (status or non-status), Métis or Inuit);
  • You have completed at least one year of post-secondary education (i.e., you are in second-year or higher in your undergraduate degree, or in your master’s, PhD, or postdoctoral studies)
  • You are studying at a Canadian university or college;
  • You are studying in a STEM program (Science, Technology/Computer Science, Engineering, Math) or adjacent disciplines such as Business, Economics or Life Sciences;
  • You have coding experience with Python or R*. You have taken statistics or math at the post-secondary level; and
  • You are committed to completing coursework on a weekly basis and participating in class.

*If you are interested in applying for the course but have no or limited coding experience in Python, please submit an application. Vector also runs a 3 day Excel to AI course that you may be able to take, subject to space in the course, instead of the Introduction to Machine Learning course or prior to the course. See the FAQ below for more details.

Please note that enrolment in the Introduction to Machine Learning course is capped at approximately 50 students; a minimum of 10 students is required to run the course. Given our limited enrolment capacity, not all applicants will be offered a spot in the course. We will connect with all applicants no later than September 16, 2022 to let you know if you have been offered a spot in the course.

When does the course run?

The course is tentatively scheduled to run beginning the week of October 2nd to the week of November 13th, with classes held Wednesdays from 3pm to 5pm EST and tutorials running Thursdays from 3pm to 5pm EST. Capstone project presentations will take place after the course has concluded on November 30th. All classes and tutorials will be held online. 

The application period for the Fall 2022 course has now closed.

Spotlight on the Inaugural Intro to ML Course for Black & Indigenous Students 

Student Testimonials:

“Regardless of your Machine Learning knowledge level, you will find something to learn or it will be a solid refresher.”- Patrick Adjei

“The Introduction to ML course offered by Vector Institute is a great, flexible and insightful program. It exposes one to the fundamentals (both theory and practical) in Machine Learning, ranging from supervised learning, unsupervised learning, etc. I highly recommend this program.” – Oluwabukola (Grace) Adegboro

“The passion and effort that the instructors at the Vector institute have, combined with their genuine interest in helping their students is quite unmatched, making for a unique learning experience.”- Mogtaba Alim

Read more about the student experience in this blog post and watch the capstone presentations that won the Best Capstone Presentation & Paper award.

If you would like to stay in touch with Vector and learn more about upcoming opportunities, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Course FAQS

Can I use this course for degree credit?

This course is a professional development offering and cannot be used for degree credit.  While Vector offers professional development to industry, health partners and students, it is not an accredited academic institution. You will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course that you can include on your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Will there be assignments that are evaluated?

There will be four course assignments and a capstone project that will be reviewed and graded by the instructor and TA to provide you with feedback on your progress. Capstone projects are also a great way to showcase what you have learned in the course and demonstrate your knowledge to prospective employers.

An award for the Best Capstone Paper & Presentation, valued at $500 each for a total of $1,500, will be awarded to the top three capstones.

Why is Vector offering a free course on Machine Learning for Black and Indigenous students?

There are challenges facing Black and Indigenous people entering the field of Artificial Intelligence, STEM, and tech in general. Both statistical data on workforce participation (1)  and anecdotal evidence reflects that there are real barriers that require action. The purpose of Vector’s Introduction to ML course and internship programming is to increase the opportunities to build research and career pathways in AI for Black and Indigenous students in Canada. This initiative is designed to meet the criteria of Special Programs in line with the values of the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), to assist underrepresented groups to achieve equal opportunity in the field of AI.


(1) Based on 2016 Census data, Indigenous people make up 4% of adults in Canada but less than 2% of people working in STEM occupations are Indigenous (Analysis of 2016 Census data. Statistics Canada, “Data Products, 2016 Census.”). According to a Brookfield Study (2019) entitled Who are Canada’s Tech Workers? Indigenous people’s participation in tech occupations is less than half of non-Indigenous people’s participation in the field (2.2% vs. 5.2%). Similarly, Black people reflect 2.6% of the tech workforce but 3.5% of the population. A MaRS Discovery District analysis using a survey dataset powered by Fortay and Feminuity of tech workers in Toronto found that Black tech workers were more likely to report lower levels of diversity, inclusion and belonging compared to White, Asian, and other Visible Minorities.
I have more questions about the course. Who do I email?

Please don’t hesitate to contact if you have further questions about the application process or the course.

I am a student at a university/college outside Canada. Am I eligible?

No, this course is open to students studying at a Canadian university or college.

I’m not in a STEM or STEM adjacent program OR I have limited to no coding experience. Can I still apply for this course?

We encourage you to submit an application. When applying, Vector will assess your technical proficiency based on your reported experience levels in Python or R, Excel, Statistics, Linear Algebra, and Multivariate Calculus. If you have limited proficiency in Python, Vector may offer you a spot in our Excel to AI course.

Excel to AI is a 3-Day course, which runs 2 hours each day, and introduce Python as a tool for exploring basic Machine Learning capabilities. This course will expand the possibilities to include tasks with unstructured data, larger datasets, and more efficient computing. 

If space is available in an upcoming Excel to AI course, you may be offered a spot in the course.

Fall Internships 2022: Research & Applied Internship Pathways for Black and Indigenous Students. Applications are now closed.

Sign up to be notified when applications open for Winter 2023.

Gain hands-on experience in machine learning. Advance your research or career goals. Attend research, career development and commercialization talks. Open doors to new opportunities by networking with people doing research and working in AI.

Vector offers two types of internship opportunities which may take place in person or remotely:

  • Applied Internships: Work full or part-time alongside professional staff at Vector on AI and data centric projects. Applied internships may include data analysis, automation functions, ML engineering, project management or domain specific roles, in areas such as health and AI.
  • Research Internships:
    • Work alongside Vector Faculty, who are world-leading researchers who are pushing the boundaries of machine learning and deep learning in critical areas such as Computer Vision, Generative Models, Healthcare – computational biology, genomics, Security, Privacy & Fairness, and Natural Language Processing.
  • Learn more about Vector’s internships here!

Vector & BPTN

Vector is collaborating with the Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN), who has partnered with top Canadian companies who will hire a total of 375 early career, Black professionals each year for the next 3 years. This includes internships and co-ops. Applied intern roles have also been posted on the BPTN career portal. Feel free to set up a profile on the BPTN network today for internship opportunities in tech roles across the country.

Award Opportunity for Black and Indigenous Interns

Upon completion of the applied or research internship, Black and Indigenous interns who are beginning or continuing their studies at a post-secondary institution in Canada will be eligible to apply for a $1,500 award to help offset the cost of their education.

Interested in interning at Vector? Join our mailing list to be notified when applications for Winter 2023 opens.

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