Intel Launches First AI Associate Degree Program

Intel announced June 29 that it is working with Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) to start the first AI associate degree program in the US. The Arizona Commerce Authority will provide a grant of $100,000 to support the associate degree program. It will allow tens of thousands of students to get jobs in high-tech, automotive, healthcare, industrial and airspace fields.

Intel stated in a press release that it believes that artificial intelligence technology should be shaped by different people with different experiences and backgrounds. Community colleges offer the ability to diversify and expand AI as they attract a diverse body of students with different expertise and backgrounds. Intel noted that it is committed to working with colleges to expand access to technology skills that are needed for current and future employment.

MCCCD Is The Largest Community College District in the US

MCCCD is based in Tempe, Arizona, and is the biggest community college district in the United States with an enrollment of more than 100,000 students on 10 campuses, as well as 10,000 faculty and staff members.

The associate’s degree program for AI features courses that have been developed by the faculty at MCCCD and Intel leaders, based on Intel tools and software, including the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO Toolkit and Intel Python.

Students To Learn Vital AI Skills

Intel also plans to contribute technical training and advice, faculty training, summer internships, and mentors from Intel for students and faculty. Students will learn vital skills such as:

  • Data collection
  • AI model training
  • Coding
  • Exploration of AI technology’s impact on society

The associate’s degree program includes a social impact AI project that is made with guidance from teachers and Intel mentors. When students finish the program, MCCCD will provide an associate’s degree in AI that can be transferred to a four-year university. Those courses should fully transfer, and then students can earn a four-year degree in a related computer or science discipline.

Demand for AI-Trained Professionals Will Soar in Near Future

Artificial intelligence technology is growing quickly with new tools, applications, and tools that require workers to learn new skills if they want to stay competitive. Recent studies show that the demand for AI skills will grow exponentially in the next decade. A 2020 report by Linkedin found that AI skills are one of the most in-demand hard skills in the country. (Linkedin.com). Further, research by the MCCCD Workforce and Economic Development Office reports there will be a 22.4% increase for AI professionals by 2029.

As of mid-2020, this seems like a good time for many Americans to learn new, in-demand skills. As of June 2020, at least 43 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits. Also, a McKinsey study released recently stated that more than 57 million jobs could be subject to layoffs, furloughs, or being rendered unnecessary in the near future. (McKinsey.com). It is vital for colleges and corporations to work together to prepare for workforce demands in the near future.

First Phase of the Associate’s Degree Program Begins in Fall 2020

The AI associate’s degree program’s initial phase will be an online pilot at Estrella Mountain Community College and Chandler-Gilbert Community College in fall 2020. As concerns about COVID-19 decrease, it is expected that classes will start on both campuses later in the year or in early 2021.

This program expands the Intel AI for Youth program, which offers an artificial intelligence curriculum to more than 100,000 vocational and high school students in nine countries and will continue to grow around the world. It is hoped that this innovative program will provide hundreds of thousands of young people with essential AI skills so that they can have productive technology careers in the coming decades.

Intel Working On Other Programs to Train New AI Developers

Also, Intel recently worked with Udacity to create the Intel Edge AI for IoT Developers in Nanodegree Program, which intends to train one million AI developers. Intel has also committed to expanding digital resources to reach at least 30 million people in 30,000 colleges and universities in at least 30 countries.

These actions build on Intel’s goals that were recently announced in its 2030 Goals and Global Impact Challenges that reinforce the company’s commitment to make AI technology more inclusive and to expand digital readiness. (Intel.com). In that statement, Intell announced it would work with other companies to increase the speed of inclusive business practices across industries. It also would create and implement a Global Inclusion Index open standard.

Using common metrics, it is going to allow the industry to track progress in getting more women and minorities in technical and senior positions, accessible technology availability, and equal pay. Intel has already been working with Lenovo to convene tech executives and HR professionals to drive the transformation of the industry to be more inclusive.