Technology is one of the pillars of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. These disciplines have begun to play a large role in contemporary American education.
In fact, strengthening the prominence of American technology education is extremely important to the United States government. It has funded a program called TechWomen to promote American-style tech education to women around the globe.
Now, three new American programs at the university level have been started to explore the latest area of technology education, artificial intelligence, also known as AI. Read on to learn about what these new programs have to offer to American STEM education.
1. Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is offering a new undergraduate degree program in artificial intelligence. Offered by CMU’s School of Computer Science, the AI undergraduate program leads to a Bachelor of Science degree, called BSAI.
Significantly, this is the first undergraduate degree in artificial intelligence to be offered in the United States. The program focuses on helping students understand how complex information, such as visual information, information from written or spoken language, and information from databases, can contribute to decision-making processes.
Coursework in this new degree includes statistics and probability, computational modeling, machine learning, symbolic computation, ethics, and social responsibility. Also available are independent study courses that emphasize using AI for the social good in such areas as healthcare, transportation, and education.
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of artificial intelligence, CMU’s BSAI program draws on faculty expertise in computer science, such as from CMU’s Computer Science Department, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Institute for Software Research, Language Technologies Institute, Machine Learning Department, and Robotics Institute. Additionally, it incorporates faculty expertise in the humanities, the social sciences, public policy, and engineering.
Currently, students already enrolled in CMU’s School of Computer Science are allowed to apply to the BSAI major at the end of their first year. Only 30-35 students are admitted to the program annually. This keeps the total enrollment in the major to about 100 students.
Admission requirements include submitting an essay as well as possibly completing an interview. Double majors are allowed with the AI degree, although no minor in AI currently exists. Additionally, the BSAI is currently only available as a face-to-face program, with no online degree option available.
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced plans to start a college devoted to artificial intelligence. Called the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, it is scheduled to open in fall 2019. Designed to be interdisciplinary, the college will collaborate with the five schools already in existence at MIT.
One key area of overlap between the new college and existing departments is the need to interpret large sets of data. MIT hopes the new college will help develop students who are capable in their chosen major. The students will also be skilled in traditional computing, eventually causing MIT to become a leader in the responsible and ethical use of AI across disciplines.
Plans are still in the works to determine the formal structure of the college. Initial announcements indicate that the following entities will become members of the college: the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society; and the MIT Quest for Intelligence.
Additional departments may be designated to join the college in the future. It is expected that new majors and minors will be offered to complement the current degrees that pair computer science with economics, biology, mathematics, and urban planning.
3. University of Rhode Island
The University of Rhode Island (URI) recently opened an AI Lab in its campus library. Located in a place convenient to any student on campus, the lab is staffed by both library professionals and faculty from departments as varied as philosophy; computer science and statistics; and electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering.
The AI Lab embraces interdisciplinarity. Currently, it collaborates across disciplines to offer courses in both the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences in areas such as electrical engineering, biomechanical engineering, and philosophy. Development of more courses is anticipated, including offerings in such areas as psychology, health studies, and mathematics.
Currently the URI AI Lab provides access to a high-performance graphics processing unit (GPU) server, essential to completing complex computations with large data sets. Additionally, seven individual workstations are currently available in the lab, with more equipment expected to be added in the future.
It is expected that students in the URI Honors Program will be provided access to pilot courses first before they are made available to the general student population. Already the URI AI Lab has attracted both national and international attention through presentations at academic conferences, publications in academic journals, and coverage from both local and national media outlets.