By Nancy Dahlberg
In a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning, Miami Dade College will celebrate the opening of its Artificial Intelligence Center on North Campus. The state-of-the-art facility was designed to prepare the AI workforce of tomorrow and hone today’s professionals through classes, workshops, conferences and connections.
“We are very proud to open the doors to the MDC’s Artificial Intelligence Center, where students and the community can learn essential skills to advance in today’s job market,” said MDC President Madeline Pumariega. in a press release. “The rapid evolution of technology has increased the demand for trained AI professionals in virtually every industry. MDC is leading the way to fill this gap.
The facility, spanning over 13,000 square feet, will serve as the epicenter for all activities, engagement, program, interaction and software that is produced to support MDC’s growth as a leader in applied AI. The AI Center, three years in the making and the product of a strategic partnership with industry giants such as Microsoft, Intel and IBM, is just the beginning, according to the College.
We’ve all heard that artificial intelligence is going to replace many of today’s jobs, many of which are the service jobs that underpin Miami-Dade’s economy. Yet we haven’t seen enough upskilling and retraining in AI for all those well-paying jobs that AI will create, said Antonio Delgado, vice president of innovation and partnerships at MDC, in a statement. interview with Refresh Miami. And that’s where MDC comes in.
“AI is the future and every new company should have these capabilities. But especially in Miami, we know we don’t have the AI workforce yet,” Delgado said.
Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 513,000 new jobs will be created in the field of artificial intelligence by 2029. They include professions such as software developer, machine learning engineer and research scientist. robotics in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, cybersecurity, construction and retail. supply chain management.
Miami Dade College believes that any student in the College can be exposed to AI from an interdisciplinary perspective and those who wish to delve further can obtain certificates or even a full bachelor’s degree program in development and which could be the first from the country. “This is a very ambitious plan and the Center is at the heart of it,” Delgado said. “We’re not just building physical space, but building the best programs possible.”
Upon entering the AI Center on the second floor of Building 1, visitors are greeted by a holographic concierge powered by IBM’s Watson AI software. The AI Center has dedicated classrooms, quantum computing labs, multipurpose spaces, and a design think tank. Additionally, a robotics lab and a fully-equipped maker lab make it easy to take an AI project from concept to prototype. The AI Center will be a space for graduation, development, retraining, events, networking, collaboration, research, as well as for students participating in extracurricular activities, such as clubs and competitions. “We want to create an environment where students and everyone in the community can come and be creative and ideally create new startups using AI,” Delgado said.
The College has allocated $5 million to build the AI Center and has received multiple grants from the Knight Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Miami Downtown Development Authority, among others, to fund the creation of degrees and professional development opportunities in AI which will all be part of the AI Center.
The center, which has been in the works for three years, is part of a much larger MDC initiative responding to community needs, Delgado said. With the help of its Industry Advisory Board of national AI experts, MDC has developed the knowledge, skills, and abilities that students should have in the program and will soon submit Florida’s first bachelor’s program in AI applied for approval and implementation not just for Miami Dade College, but to encourage any college that wishes to do so, Delgado said.
The Center will also be aimed at the community at large and that is why MDC has developed a series of speakers on AI. Discussions focused on AI for the supply chain, how AI is disrupting fashion, and other trends. “We’re also going to bring a lot of upskilling and reskilling through continuous learning, because while we hear about AI disrupting and taking away jobs, it’s actually creating new jobs,” Delgado said.
Together with Microsoft, the College has developed content for business professionals to understand how to apply AI in their businesses. MDC has partnered with Intel on an AI for Workforce program offering ongoing training. It has partners with IBM on an AI practitioner certificate program and MDC will also provide training for those. MDC also has a partnership with the Miami-based 4Geeks Academy to offer bootcamp-style training together.
While the AI Center will be on North Campus, there are plans to bring the programming to all campuses. With DDA funding, MDC will develop a mini-center on the Wolfson campus due to the explosion of the startup scene developing in the downtown corridor. “And the idea is to continue to bring this AI opportunity to all of our campuses.”
And the key to success is to start young. “If they’re not interested, it will be difficult for us to develop tech talent in Miami, so high schools are a priority for us. And we have multiple initiatives to make that happen,” Delgado said.
This includes summer camps, which it has done before, but to continue programming the rest of the year, MDC is partnering with the Mark Cuban Foundation and Argo AI on a Saturday bootcamp and internship. “It’s about exposing students to AI for free, showing them the future. And with the center now open, it’s going to get bigger and bigger.
AI for All is a vision initiated by the President of the MDC. More than 500 faculty members attended trainings and workshops, then she opened an innovation forum and provided funds for professors to create projects. For example, an English teacher will use their Harry Potter instructions to teach AI applications.
“We already have philosophy teachers who are training and creating courses. we have professors who attend the best conferences in the world. We’re excited because this really is AI for everyone, we don’t just talk about it, we do it,” Delgado said.
“Miami Dade College works hard to determine what businesses need. And this is the future where every business will need AI and most of them already need it today. So we hear, we act and we want to involve the community,” he continued. “I will be happy to serve as a point of contact for anyone interested in engaging with how we can elevate Miami through artificial intelligence.”
Miami Dade College’s technology strategy also includes connecting students and community members with jobs so companies don’t have to import talent, he added. “We have incredible talent inside. If we can bring those skills to them and companies have confidence in what we’re doing, we can create those pathways and that’s the bigger vision. Let’s make that arrived.”
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at email@example.com
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