AI program creates applications for industry

Hands-on learning will enable AI Certificate students to deploy AI in the classroom, implementing what they've learned. Program starts in October, 2019.

19 August 2019

Engineering at Alberta's AI program creates applications for industry

AI is everywhere. What was once a science fiction notion is now a key part of doing business in many industries. More businesses than ever are looking for ways to gather, analyze and interpret data to compete, innovate and improve business processes.

Engineers of all stripes are in the center of this evolution in business, so it made sense for Engineering at Alberta to share our leading edge equipment and expertise through a short program to get engineers, technicians and others entering the data science world immersed in AI and using it to solve their pressing business challenges. For the first time, Engineering at Alberta is extending its teaching expertise to working professionals through the new Certificate in Artificial Intelligence program starting in October 2019.

Register in the AI Certificate Program today

This program offers an opportunity for those in the workforce, looking to expand their skills and meet the growing need for AI knowledge in Alberta, to start building AI software and hardware applications using our innovative software resources and lab equipment, without taking time away from their careers.

"The Faculty of Engineering is already strong in this area, especially when it comes to applications of data analysis methods in industrial settings," says Dr. Marek Reformat, one of the academics tapped to develop this program. "This faculty is at the forefront of such activities, and through this program we can bridge the gap between academia and business when it comes to AI."

A program focused on industry and application

The Certificate in Artificial Intelligence program comprises three six-week courses: one on machine learning applications, one on deep and graphical networks, and the last one on reinforcement learning applications. Reformat explains that the strength of this certificate program is the focus on experiential learning and the creation of practical applications; less lecture and theory, more hands-on learning with tangible business results.

"We inverted the typical classroom experience so that the students can see more of the theory in practice," says Reformat. "The hands-on experience in the classroom will show how to deploy AI so that the students can implement what they've learned. It's showing the practical aspects of AI so we can clearly see the interactions with industry and contribute to something that people will find useful and valuable."

Using Python coding language and available hardware, those taking these courses will develop model AI algorithms and programs as well as neural network pathways to be tested with the faculty's computational processing equipment. This includes the resources available at the newly opened AI Hub, which has already been working with small businesses to translate large data sets into more understandable and valuable information.

"This is the next wave of technology, the first wave being hardware, the second being software, and now this third wave, which is focused on intelligence and computational learning," says Reformat. He explains that there is an immense opportunity for people to learn about AI and integrate it with their careers.

With so much value being placed on AI by industry yet less understanding about how it can work practically, graduates from this certificate program will have a better view of this technology and how to best utilize it. "A lot of people still don't fully understand AI and part of this program is to make AI explainable. We need to take advantage of the possibilities around AI, and how it can improve all of our lives," say Reformat.

Improved understanding and confidence

This certificate program is an opportunity to bridge the gap between the discomfort some people feel with AI and the decision-making process for business, which ultimately informs strategy and direction for industry to take. Reformat stresses that the purpose of AI is to make the lives of people better and help make people's jobs easier, simpler and more efficient.

Connecting industry to academia and improving the understanding regarding the possibilities of AI are two of the best-case scenario outcomes from the new certificate program. As more people look to advance their careers in the AI space, it won't be just business and industry reaping the benefits of improved computational learning. Society as a whole will start to see improvements with better and more intuitive technological integration into our daily lives.