Senior's presentation about AI in marketing wins award

Senior Zoya Goel has a history of taking on projects that impact others. This summer was no different. In a time when many summer internships were canceled because of COVID-19, Zoya interned at Kennesaw’s Win-Tech, Inc. She won an award for her presentation about the ethical impacts of artificial intelligence on marketing.

Zoya and Walker students – Chapman Clarke, LisAnne Francois and Sophie Brondos – along with eight other students from area schools participated in the Advanced Marketing Virtual Internship at Win-Tech, a small veteran-owned aerospace manufacturer based in Kennesaw.

During the 16-day internship, students met each day with speakers from around the world taking deep dives into different manufacturing concepts, such as supply chain during a pandemic, marketing for manufacturers and sustainability. The students also learned what to do once you get into the workplace, the importance of networking, including connecting with the speakers they met during the internship and joining professional organizations. 

At the end of the program, each student presented a project about a topic in manufacturing. Allison Krache Giddens, Win-Tech Director of Operations, said she was impressed with the participants. “The students were phenomenal,” she said. “They were bright, engaged, polite and professional.” 

Zoya’s presentation about artificial intelligence’s role in marketing and the impact on society earned her the “Most Creative Solution” award. 
“I talked about the uses of AI in marketing and the potential problems that could come with that in regards to privacy, how fair the algorithm is and how AI can affect society at large, all of which is under the algorithmic fairness umbrella,” she said. “With algorithmic fairness, you talk about the making of the model, but you also talk about societal impact, too.”
Giddens said of the presentation: “It was fantastic. You could tell this was something she’s been mulling around a long time. Her perspective was that we can’t expect AI to be just and equal if the information we give it isn’t just and equal.”
Dr. Nate Brady, Upper School Science Teacher and leader of the Guided Scientific Research Engineering program, said “All of Zoya’s projects have always been so thoughtful. Her internship project was on the ethics in AI marketing, and over the beginning of the pandemic, she came to school and used some of our 3D printers to make face shields for people in the medical field. She’s always been driven to help people.” 

Zoya, who has attended Walker since Kindergarten, said she has enjoyed attending Walker because “The school is small enough where you can have a lot of freedom in terms of what you want to do and what you want to pursue. I am interested in artificial intelligence and the CS (computer science) stuff, but I like other things. I’m in Latin Club and on the board. At other schools, you can’t do all these things. It lets me be multidimensional.”
She said she also appreciates the relationships she is able to forge with her teachers: “You can have really good connections with your teachers because of the class sizes. I feel like if I was at a bigger school I wouldn’t be able to connect with them as well.”
Zoya is part of Walker’s Guided Scientific Research program in which students in their senior year must develop a research project. Zoya’s project involves the possibility of creating an artificial intelligence-powered app to identify autism in children based on facial characteristics. 
“I don’t intend for this to be a diagnostic tool, but it could help families start a discussion with their doctor,” she said. 
She said her GSR project aligns with her interest in artificial intelligence and algorithmic fairness because the data that needs to be used to train the app must be able to properly identify facial features across all types of people. The data she has found so far during her research has been very limited, but she is not deterred by the complexity or challenge of her project.
“There’s a chance it might work,” Zoya said. “I’m glad I’m venturing into this field that hasn’t been explored before.”
Brady said he thinks Zoya’s project has the possibility of being successful: “What’s so nice about machine learning is that it’s so new, so there are lots of things people haven’t thought to use it for just yet, so it’s really neat for her to be able to apply it this way. Personally, I’m really excited to see how well this works.”
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