With plans to create a pipeline of AI talent, Intel is teaming with the Arizona’s largest community college system to design an AI associate’s degree program—making it the first Intel-designed AI associate degree program in the nation.
Gregory Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Client Computing Group, told the Business Journal a new partnership with Maricopa County Community College District will help prepare Arizona’s workforce for future AI jobs.
Intel has been in the metro Phoenix community for 40 years, making it a perfect launching pad for future AI associate degree programs across the country, Bryant said.
“We are partnering with MCCCD so we can help make AI more acceptable and more inclusive because of the nature of the community college system that brings a wide variety of diverse backgrounds and diverse experiences,” Bryant said.
Working with MCCCD faculty on using Intel’s software tools in faculty training summer internships and mentoring faculty, plans call for launching the Artificial Intelligence & Machine-learning program virtually this fall.
The community college district is expected to have all five courses deployed for the spring 2021 semester by January, said Steven Gonzales, interim chancellor for MCCCD. This new AI program adds to a partnership that has endured during the past 40 years since Intel first established a large presence in Chandler Gonzales said.
“We’re preparing students and partnering with a premier organization like Intel to ensure our students are indeed robot-proof and actually working on artificial intelligence,” Gonzales said. “The number of jobs that aren’t even created that are going to come online within the next 10 to 15 years — students that come to this program are going to be well prepared to land those roles and actually create that technology that we’re talking about.”
Arizona Commerce Authority is kicking in $100,000 to help cover the costs of launching this new degree, said Sandra Watson, the ACA’s president and CEO.
“Arizona has become a hub for innovation and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, and this initiative will enhance our state’s competitiveness in the global market,” she said. “Ensuring companies have access to talent with AI skills is key to Arizona’s continued economic success.”
The entire program consists of 65 credits over 19 courses to complete the associate degree. Upon completion, graduates would qualify for certain jobs in the industry, or could transfer to a university to continue their education. The program will begin at two of MCCCD’s 10 campuses on opposite ends of the Valley — Chandler Gilbert Community College and Estrella Mountain Community College, Gonzales said. Students will develop traditional skills, such as data collection, AI model training, coding and exploring the societal impact of AI technology.
AI job opportunities
Occupations currently requesting AI skills include business analyst, java developer, data engineer, marketing manager, health manager, engineer, product manager, developer, front-end developer and architect.
In addition to Intel, other top employers requesting these skills include IBM, Wells Fargo & Co., Deloitte and American Express. Arizona and metro Phoenix are projected to offer 21,535 AI employment opportunities in 2020, which is 6% above the national average.
Local demand for AI talent is increasing in the Valley, and careers are projected to grow faster than the average rate for all employment over the next decade. These roles are expected to increase by 22.4% by 2029, according to Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.
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