Introduction to Machine Learning For Engineering Research (ML4ER)

“Introduction to Machine Learning For Engineering Research” (ML4ER) is a semester long course taught in the Spring and Fall semesters to serve as an introduction for anyone interested in participating in research related to informatics for engineering, but are currently lacking some of the technical skills and background to jump directly into participation on a research project. It is targeted at undergraduates interested in doing research in this area as part of the Informatics Skunkworks program, but also open to all that are interested in learning.  The content is open to everyone, it is modular, flexible, and free to use. The course is open to in-person and remote participants both within and outside of UW.

This curriculum provides students an introduction to software tools and the associated technical background to understand their use at an introductory level. Throughout the curriculum, students will focus on using two software tools (Citrination and MAST-ML) to generate machine learning models. They will learn key ideas for assessing model performance and decision making skills for how to improve or modify a model.

Summary of Spring 2023 Information

Course Meeting Times: Mon or Tues (attend 1), 4:00pm-5:15pm central time

Monday – Engineering Hall 2341
Tuesday – Engineering Hall 2355

Office hours / help desk: Wed/Thurs 9:30am-11:00am central time via Zoom

Start Date: Feb. 6th (or 7th)
End Date: May 2nd (or 3rd)

Enrollment: Enrollment is open to in-person UW students as well as remote students from other institutions and locations.
Course Credit: Students at UW are encouraged to also sign up for course credit through mse 401 for 2-credits under Dane Morgan’s section. This is not required to participate in the course. Note that mse 401 is not open enrollment please reach out to get permission to enroll.

During the Spring and Fall semesters in-person students are required to attend one in-person meeting each week as well as periodic community wide activities such as workshops and end of semester meetings. Meetings will be recorded, and remote students can view them asynchronously on their own time. See the Syllabus section for specific semesters to confirm specific meeting times. During regular weekly meetings students will be introduced to the core concepts, tools, and activities that are to be completed each week. The weekly activities introduced are then to be completed before the next week’s meeting. The materials are largely based around a set of introductory research modules and professional development activities which are described in more detail in the “Materials” section.

In addition to attending weekly meetings, and completing the weekly activities, the main deliverable that contributes to each students grade (for those receiving course credit) is a weekly slide deck that summarizes the activity completed each week. This set of weekly slide decks, and one Final Slide Deck submitted at the end of the semester contribute to each student’s grade (again for those receiving credit).

It is expected that between meetings, work groups, and completion of activities that students will spend ~6 hours of time on work related to their participation in the course. This typically corresponds to approximately a 2 credit hour course if receiving credit for an independent study course.

Benjamin Afflerbach
Materials Science and Engineering

Specific Syllabi are listed here for recent semesters:

Fall 2022

Spring 2022

Fall 2021

The main materials used throughout the course can be found here

To enroll for the Spring 2023 semester please reach out to the instructor and we will be in touch!

For students participating through the University of Wisconsin – Madison, you are able to receive course credit through MSE 401. This course is an independent study course that requires specific permission to enroll. Please reach out to the instructors if you would like to receive credit.

Students from other institutions should consult with relevant personnel at their institution about possible credits.  We will provide final materials and suggested grades for all participants.

  1. How much programming, or coding background is required to participate?
    We do not require students to come in with any specific programming experience. There will be significant time spend however running existing python code through Jupyter Notebooks, so some basic familiarity with python may help with understanding the concepts that are being demonstrated by running the existing python code. There will also be activities where students are tasked with making single line replacements to existing code to change settings in the code.