"Put Eindhoven on the map in the world of AI"
Because of his enthusiasm for Artificial Intelligence, pre-master student Data Science Buster Franken looked for a community devoted to this subject in Eindhoven. But Franken didn’t find any such community and therefore founded FruitPunch AI six months ago.
An important goal of FruitPunch AI is to connect as many people as possible with a shared interest in, and broad knowledge of AI. By exchanging ideas, members of this community will learn more about AI from each other, is what Buster Franken beliefs.
Franken: “When we became more interested in the subject, we looked for a community where we could find information. A kind of central storage. But there was no such community in the Brainport region. From then on, our goal was to develop such a community ourselves.”
Franken has a bachelor in Mechanical Engineering but says he always had a broad range of interests: “I followed a minor in Neuroscience, which is quite different from Mechanical Engineering. I’ve always been interested in what drives people and what brings them together. Both of these interests are applicable in AI.”
Vision of FruitPunch
Full of enthusiasm, Franken started FruitPunch AI together with Mickey Beurskens, who has now left the team. The current team consist of six male members from different faculties. Franken can formulate the main goal of FruitPunch in clear wording: “To further the implementation of AI by building a community and by bridging the gap between theory and practice for students.”
FruitPunch AI was founded as recently as September 2018 but has already organized a successful event at TU/e innovation Space: AI Connect. After this event, which was attended by one hundred and fifty people, they wanted more and now they have planned their next event: a hackathon on March 29 at TU/e innovation Space. “This event will be a pilot for an eSports competition. Participating teams will have to complete several ‘challenges.’ We were inspired by the RoboCup (an international competition in the field of soccer and home care robots at which TU/e teams always score highly, ed..)", Franken says. On the day after the hackathon, on March 30, AI Connect will be held for the second time already.
The eSports event, Franken says, has to create an interest in AI. “The eventual goal is to develop things that can be used in the field, such as AI in home care robots.” So far, three teams will participate in the eSports event. The teams are from Utrecht, Tilburg and Eindhoven. The team from Eindhoven also has a name already: Serpentine, after the snake in the biblical story of Adam and Eve.
FruitPunch AI works in collobaration with Data Science Center Eindhoven (DSC/e) and IBM. Eventually, Franken wants to play only a small part in the community: “My goal is for the community to eventually function independently, that it will only have an organizational function. In five years, I hope to be less active as chairman, but I still hope to be involved with AI of course. We also want to spread our wings internationally, with Eindhoven as our center. Because that is what we want: put Eindhoven on the map in the world of AI.”