I’ve run the Belfast Azure User Group for a couple of years now, and try to arrange events for my community every couple of months. Here in Belfast, we’ve a really vibrant technical scene, and I love having the opportunity to give everyone a chance to participate in things like the Global Azure Bootcamp in 2018 and 2019, and for the first time this year, the Global AI Bootcamp.

In case you haven’t heard of it, the Global AI Bootcamp is a free, one-day event organized by communities across the world who are passionate about Artifical Intelligence on Microsoft Azure. The keynote video for the 2019 event is at this link, and sample sessions and workshops are available on GitHub here. The global organizers (Henk Boelman and Amy Boyd) have arranged for Microsoft to assist community organizers during the day by supplying Azure Passes (each pass is worth $50 and is valid for 7 days), and also ensuring that each attendee gets a free lunch from Subway on the day of the event. This is a massive help for community organizers like me – getting Subway meals helps me have one less thing to worry about! – and the free passes ensures that everyone who wants to try something on Azure gets a chance to do that. And we were very fortunate this year to have ESO Solutions as a sponsor, who paid for the room hire.

This year, Belfast had three speakers in the morning:

Jonathan Armstrong spoke about the AI Revolution in Healthcare.

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Mark Allan showed us how to make sense of your unstructured data with Azure.

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Yongyang Huo talked us through the Travelling Salesman Problem and how AI could be used to improve services (and have some fun too).

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And everyone was able to get a sticker as a memento of the event, as well as one attendee who was lucky enough to win a copy of the book shown below (Practical Automated Machine Learning on Azure).prize.jpg

In the afternoon many of the attendees stayed to try out the event’s workshops, featured on Github here. There was a range of skills, from people just trying it out for the first time to others who use Machine Learning every day at work, and I believe everyone was able to learn something from the talks – they were some of the best talks we’ve had so far at our user group.

For 2020, we’ve already got some great speakers and events lined up – our next event is in February, myself and some contacts are already arranging an Azure hackathon, and I’m looking forward to more Azure and DevOps Bootcamps in April and May next year!