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IIT-Guwahati, India provides free AI courses

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in March, several institutions have developed and are offering online skill enhancement courses.

As the role of artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions increase in governance and the industry, India is focusing on training its youth and working force on the new technology so that citizens can have better opportunities in the fourth industrial revolution.

The Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati (IIT-Guwahati) announced that it is offering a free AI course to teach the fundamentals of the technology to learners. The course will span over 12 weeks and will be available on the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)-approved course will commence from 20 July, according to an article on the national AI portal.

Learners will be taught several modules during the course. Some of which include, AI and problem-solving by search, knowledge representation and reasoning, reasoning under uncertainty, planning and decision making, and machine learning.

Interested learners need to register for the course on the NPTEL website. Applicants must have a working knowledge of probability and linear algebra. While the course is free, learners can avail a legitimate certificate with logos of IIT G and NPTEL by paying to take an exam.

In early May, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) offered free online AI courses to students. Also, IIT-Ropar commenced an online PG certification course in AI and Deep Learning.

NPTEL is an online initiative undertaken by a group of IITs from Mumbai, Delhi, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Madras, Guwahati, and Roorke.

IIT-Guwahati has developed affordable diagnostic kits in the fight against COVID-19. They are viral transport media (VTM) kits, RT-PCR kits, and RNA isolation kits.

The VTM kits are the first-stop source used to collect nasal and oral swab specimens from an individual source to a laboratory safely for culture and testing. During this period, the virus, if present, in the sample specimens should remain intact until the testing procedure is completed.

The kit consists of a comprehensive solution specially formulated for the collection and transport of SARS-CoV-2.

To bring down the cost of kits, the organisation has used material that is available in the local market and they are as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation. It handed over two batches of these kits to the National Health Mission, Assam, and GMCH, a press release has stated.

These kits have transport media for nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal specimen collection swabs. Both are safe to use as they are recommended and validated by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The complete package is suitable for the collection, transport, maintenance, and long-term freezer storage of viral specimens. The unique formulation of the transport medium helps to preserve the viability of viruses for up to 72 hours (at refrigerated temperatures).

The swabs have been designed ergonomically with a pre-moulded breakpoint on their shaft for enabling secure sampling. These sterile VTM kits comply with the CDC-recommended configurations for viral specimen collection for COVID-19 and are packed in user-friendly individual packs.

The kits will spur development of affordable and high-quality healthcare products in Assam and provide access to world-class kits and career opportunities to healthcare professionals and students, a researcher said.

Additionally, the Institute has also developed RNA isolation kits and RT-PCR kits. The isolated and purified RNA is then converted to DNA by an enzyme Reverse Transcriptase (RT), which is used to confirm the presence or absence of COVID-19.

They have started the large-scale production of the kits, which will be made available across the country soon.

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