Students gain valuable AI skills and international experience in France

Students gain valuable AI skills and international experience in France

College of Business /

Artificial intelligence has been making headlines throughout the year, and a study abroad program offered by the UNI College of Business provides students with the opportunity to learn more about this flourishing tool – all while living in France. The program, which runs for a month starting in May and ending in June, is hosted by the Rennes School of Business, located about two hours north of Paris.

Students take four classes that provide data analytics competence, including developing the basics in Python coding for business tools and how to apply machine learning to business data analysis.

JuanDaniel Lopez (Accounting, ‘23) recently finished his undergraduate degree and is pursuing his master’s degree and CPA certification starting this fall. Lopez wanted to learn more about AI and was intrigued by receiving six credits toward his master’s program. He didn’t know much about machine learning before beginning but the experience gave him a deeper understanding.

“The trip and experience was amazing,” Lopez said. “I enjoyed learning more about AI from a diverse group of people. I feel like I have a better understanding of AI, and I believe that accountants will need to be more familiar with it because machine learning can make our work more efficient.”


JuanDaniel poses in front of Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel

Andrew Straube (Accounting, ‘23) had a similar experience, who is just beginning to pursue his master’s degree in accounting and CPA certification. He also wanted to learn more about AI to help in his future career, but another benefit was that the cost of the trip was affordable due to support from the College of Business. For the unique experience, it was an easy decision.

“It was really cool to get your feet wet as an accountant,” Straube said. “We were able to use AI to solve complex business problems by commanding the computer to get the results we wanted. These problems were often too complex for humans to solve on their own, such as huge regression models.”

For both Lopez and Straube, the trip helped them gain international experience and new perspectives. Across a couple weekends, the class went to Normandy, where Allied forces landed on D-Day during World War II, and Paris. Straube had a unique experience himself. After helping a woman fix her bike on the road, he was invited out for drinks and dinner by her family. “She told me, ‘Of course the American stopped and helped.’ That just goes to show how far kindness can go.”

Lopez added some advice for those interested in taking part in a study abroad experience at UNI, particularly this one.

“Just take the leap,” he said. “You only get opportunities to go and learn abroad a few times in college. AI is something that will be changing the world very quickly. That’s why this program in general is such a great way to learn, and on a subject that I believe is very important.”

Streets of Rennes France

JuanDaniel poses inside of Notre Dame Cathedral