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Saskia Robben Senior Lecturer Learning Community 'Applied AI'


Saskia Robben, researcher at our Digital Life research group, will start as senior lecturer for the Learning Community (LC) "Applied Artificial Intelligence" from 1 February 2021. She succeeds André Neumann, who became education manager at CMD in the autumn of 2020. In addition to her role as senior lecturer, Saskia continues to conduct research for Digital Life for one day a week. She will also remain involved in the minor 'Applied AI' of HBO-ICT.

Saskia's successor in our research group will be Dr. Lamia Elloumi. She has been working at CMD as a teacher since September 2020. Lamia previously worked at Tilburg University. She also holds a PhD from the University of Twente.

In this personal interview Saskia explains her new role as senior lecturer.

In what way are you involved with the theme Applied AI?

'I provide education in this area, previously through the semester theme 'Big Data' and currently in the minor 'Applied AI', both at HBO-ICT. And of course I am active in Applied AI through the research I do at the Digital Life Center research group.'

What does this appointment mean for your commitment to Digital Life?

'I will continue to work for the professorship for half a day a week for current projects. In addition, the research group is one of the five main partners in this LC. I will therefore regularly coordinate with Digital Life how we can strengthen each other. For example, in concrete terms by jointly applying for and working on research projects in the field of Applied AI.'

What makes this position interesting for you?

'As a researcher I find complicated (AI) models fun puzzles to work on. But how AI works in practice is often even more difficult! It may be that simple models are enough and that the challenge lies mainly in data quality, for example. And an even bigger challenge is: how will AI change work in practice? You can think of integration in software, for example, but also how people can work with AI systems and the degree to which they have confidence in the tools.

Toolboxes have made machine learning much easier. In education, I come across many students who have working code ('it does what I want!'). But in the meantime they make illogical design choices and apply very complicated deep learning models to a very simple problem. They then have no idea how exactly to read the output.

On the other hand, there are also a few students every year who surpass us in practical skills. Developments are going so fast and students really have the time to get into new things. In the Learning Community I want to learn from each other in a more structural way and not just from teacher to student; but also the other way around. I really want to learn more together with colleagues and students.'

And how do you want to connect research and education in this Learning Community 'AAI'?

'I mainly think about new forms. Of course there are a few 'quick wins' through existing structures such as subsidy projects, internships, workshops and the like. But I also really want to think about how things can be done differently. I also like to include the experiences of the past year, we are all increasingly used to meeting each other online in a meaningful way. So eating a pizza with colleagues is no longer necessary to get people together.'

What are your vision and purpose when it comes to AAI?

'Today, AI is so ubiquitous that every profession at AUAS should consider what it means for his or her profession. In addition to going in depth with colleagues and students from the HBO-ICT and CMD programs in particular, I also want to go into the width. The umbrella Center of Expertise for Applied AI at the AUAS is also working on this.'

Do you have a message for students, teachers, researchers, companies and / or citizens involved in AAI?

'AI is ultimately not a panacea: good use requires attention to smart design choices, software integration and quality, ethical considerations and what is perhaps most forgotten: attention to the end user! Applied AI deals with all those facets.'

Keep an eye on our Learning Community Applied AI website for the latest news!