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World AI Competition for Youth (WAICY) - 8 Tips to Help You Win

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming our world, and its influence on education is undeniable. As a high school student, you’re in a pretty great position to leverage these opportunities and build a robust skill set in AI. It will build your readiness and prepare you for its impact on your future career.


Participating in AI competitions not only enhances your college applications but also deepens your understanding of this pivotal technology. It functions as a clear demonstration to future admissions officers and recruiters that you can apply theoretical knowledge in practical, real-world scenarios, setting your profile apart in the increasingly competitive academic and professional landscapes.


In today’s post, we’ll be covering the World AI Competition for Youth (WAICY), and why it should be on your radar if you’re interested in AI and machine learning.


What is WAICY?

WAICY is a global AI competition that aims to encourage participation in STEM, specifically in the field of artificial intelligence. The competition focuses on providing students the opportunity to solve real-world problems using AI, creating AI-generated art, and utilizing AI Large Language Models. With three competition tracks allowing for all levels of participation, options for both virtual and in-person submission, and zero registration costs, WAICY is one of the most accessible competitions available to high schoolers interested in this field.


Is WAICY prestigious?

Despite its relative youth, WAICY has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2018. From a thousand participants in 2021 to 3200 in 2022, it has only grown more competitive and prestigious. Over 58 countries were represented in last year’s competition, submitting a combined 600 projects. Making it to the podium amongst such intense competition will provide you a mark of distinction. The networking opportunities you get from participation are also immense, not just with your peers from so many other countries, but also from the numerous challenge sponsors across nations. Finally, since you’ll be working with one or more of the latest tools in the AI sphere, from ChatGPT to DALL-E to Midjourney, you’ll effectively future-proof your profile.


Who is eligible to participate?

One of the best things about WAICY is its accessibility. It is open to all K-12 students across the world, and neither fees nor prior AI knowledge is required.


How does the application process work?

Firstly, you’ll have to choose whether to apply for WAICY Virtual, or for the in-person event which will be at Penn State in 2023.


For online, the application process is as follows:

  • You’ll need to submit the online application by November 25, 2023.

  • Your project submission needs to include:

    • The project name.

    • A brief description (200 words max).

    • An explanation of the AI usage (50 words max).

    • A 5-minute video of your project, followed by the grading rubric.

    • Slides and other supporting material, if you have any.

  • You will be allotted time to present your project on November 28, 2023.


For in-person participation, registration for the event at Penn State New Kensington Digital Foundry on December 2, 2023, is necessary. This is also the presentation day for virtual participants. Both virtual and in-person participants will present their projects to the judges and have a live Q&A session with them.


A couple more things to keep in mind:

  • Please note that each competition track (more on that below) will also have its own specific submission requirements above and beyond those listed above.

  • You can participate individually or as a team, though WAICY recommends that you form a team of 3-5 students.


How is WAICY structured?

WAICY is divided into three distinct tracks, each with its own focus, submission guidelines, and level of expertise required:

  1. AI Showcase Track: In this track, you’ll have to submit a project that uses AI to solve a real-world problem. Using a presentation and a video, you will need to showcase the chosen problem, your proposed AI solution, and what expected positive impact it can make.

  2. AI Generated Art Track: In this track, you’ll be using a text-to-image AI model like DALL-E 2, Midjourney, or Stable Diffusion to create a painting based on this year’s theme “Joys of Family”. Being an art track, there’s a fair bit of leeway here in what you portray as long as you adhere to the main theme.

  3. AI LLM Prompt Engineering Track: This track is specifically meant for upper-middle and high school students, though there is no application restriction per se. The goal is to build on the theme of “AI as a Service” and turn an AI into an ongoing experienced assistant in a chosen domain. You will need to creatively and intelligently come up with the prompts required to make the AI a subject matter expert that users can interact with repeatedly and gain insights from.


Each track is open to all students regardless of which grade they are in and prior subject knowledge.


What do you stand to win?

WAICY awards the 1st, 2nd, 3rd place submissions and recognizes two more for each track in each category of schooling - high school, middle school and elementary school.


Additionally, there are also three unique awards in each track for each category of schooling - the AI Excellence award, the Impact Excellence award, and the Design Excellence award, all based on the judgment rubrics of the competition.


8 tips to help you win WAICY

If WAICY has your ears perked in interest, then here are a few tips you should keep in mind to be at the top of your game:


  1. Navigate the theme well: Thoroughly research and align your project with the year's theme. You will get points for originality and creativity in how you choose to explore it. Try to find a novel approach or a single, niche aspect to explore within it.

  2. Utilize the resources provided by WAICY: WAICY has a massive list of resources meant for students of all ages to understand the nitty-gritties of AI and its applications. This is one of the best resources you can use to drastically improve your chances of winning.

  3. Try out the tools yourself: They’re free! ChatGPT, Bard, DALL-E, Stable Diffusion - all of these have free variants with plenty of features available. The best way to learn is by doing, so login to the tool of your choice and explore its capabilities, strengths and limitations for yourself. Not only will it improve your own skills in using the tool, you’ll also get a feel for how you can practically implement your idea on it and how you may need to modify it to suit its capabilities.

  4. Deliver a powerful presentation: Regardless of which track you participate in, presenting your idea is half the battle (and 10% of your score). Spend a good bit of time on your slides / video / art presentation, maybe demonstrating it to friends or family to test how concisely and engagingly you’re able to portray your ideas in the limited time you will have.

  5. Find a team and collaborate: While you can participate individually, our strong recommendation is to find yourself a team of like-minded AI enthusiasts to work with. WAICY is fairly competitive and you will benefit greatly from being able to distribute work amongst peers of complementary strengths, not to mention being able to bounce ideas off each other and arrive at better, more creative, more intelligent solutions.

  6. Dig through the work of past winners: WAICY has helpfully listed the winners of each of the last five years, with a video covering the more notable ones. Use this as a starting platform for your own work, understanding why those ideas won, what judges are looking for, and how you should approach your own project.

  7. Practice and seek regular feedback: While making the project is half the battle, the rest is the presentation and the Q&A. Try to find a teacher or a mentor who is willing to extend their guidance. Practice your Q&A session and seek regular feedback from them to refine your work. Having someone with a fresh perspective evaluate your work will help you isolate and rectify obvious gaps.

  8. Stay updated: AI is still a relatively young field that is rapidly evolving, almost on a daily basis. We highly recommend staying up to date on the latest developments. Who knows, maybe a new plugin beta could be just the right addition you need to make your solution work, or an off-the-cuff remark from Sam Altman could be the inspiration for an entirely novel approach! We highly recommend you do project-based programs like Veritas AI to keep building on your AI skills.


Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re looking for the opportunity to do in-depth research on AI or other STEM fields, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: WAICY logo

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