Machine Learning Club Launches First Club Competition


Photo Courtesy of Lavanya Gupta

Machine Learning Club president Lavanya Gupta starts the inter-school competition over Zoom to test students on their knowledge of machine learning, a type of data analysis that predicts decisions based on past patterns.

Machine Learning Club placed second overall at the Irvine Machine Learning Organization competition on March 29, with sophomores Sydney Badescu and Aldyn Chen, and junior Amanda Zhu placing in the top five out of 17 students. 

Conducted virtually over Zoom, the competition tested students from Irvine, Northwood and Portola High School’s Machine Learning Clubs on their knowledge of machine learning, data sets and coding through a 20-minute timed quiz. 

Machine Learning Club presidents wrote questions based on content from data science company Kaggle’s online course, “Intro to Machine Learning,” and students who wished to compete prepared by completing lessons through the platform. Though Kaggle does have a pre-existing machine learning competition, its size and rigor deterred many in the Machine Learning Club from participating. 

“Kaggle’s competition is really hard for high schoolers who are just starting out to actually achieve something,” IMLO co-founder and junior Lavanya Gupta said. “We basically tried to mimic the format of the competition so that all high schoolers can win something.” 

Prizes included Broadcom chargers, stickers, and free Interview Cake accounts. 

Although the Machine Learning club was first founded in 2018, all three Machine Learning clubs from Portola, Northwood and Irvine high schools decided to merge into IMLO in summer 2020. Since then, IMLO has hosted several speaker events and activities as one organization, the most recent of which is the competition. 

“I think it’s really good for the organization to be expanding to other schools and hopefully to others in the future,” Badescu said. “By having an organization that spans a lot of schools, we have the opportunity to connect with other students in Irvine outside of Portola, which makes it more interesting to learn and compete.”

Adviser and AP Computer Science teacher Katherine Dillon spoke on the students’ self-starting capabilities. 

“I’m really proud of my students, especially Lavanya for getting that together, organizing that on their own and feeling confident enough to run a competition for the whole district,” Dillon said.

For students interested in joining, the Machine Learning club is currently meeting every other Monday through Zoom during lunch.