Neethi Anand Gangidi came from India to the United States to study Chemical Engineering. But when the Covid-19 pandemic created difficulties for him doctorate studies, she changed direction by studying artificial intelligence, or AI, at Houston Community College (HCC) in Texas.
At HCC, Gangidi and a team of students worked on a difficult problem: finding ways to keep people safe in dangerous situations, such as school shootings. Their solution used AI to develop a autonomous vehicle to enter areas too dangerous for people. Gangidi’s team won a national innovation award for their project at Intel’s Global Impact Festival in San Jose, California this year.
Gangidi is one of thousands of students involved in partnerships between major tech companies and community colleges across the United States. Companies such as Dell Technologies, Intel, Google and Amazon have developed special training programs for students. Some areas of study include artificial intelligence, data science, and user experience design.
Community colleges offer two-year associate degrees in many technical and liberal arts subjects.
The American Association of Community Colleges, or AACC, says there are 1,043 community colleges in the United States. Over the past 10 years, an average of over 80,000 international students have attended community colleges each year in the United States.
The increase in AI
The use of AI, also called machine learning, is growing. AI helps computer systems do things that only humans could do before, like identify faces.
AI is commonly used in jobs that use a lot of data, such as banking, supply of materials and products, and healthcare. But now other areas, such as natural language processing, are also using the technology. AI is even used in artistic works such as music composition.
A 2021 study found that 43% of companies reported increased use of AI over the past year. However, 39% of the leaders of these companies said that the lack of AI-trained workers was a barrier to using the technology.
Intel Workforce AI Program
In early 2020, Intel launched its AI for Workforce program, which has now partnered with 74 community colleges in 32 states. Intel provides content for AI courses, AI lab design and technology, teacher training, and hands-on applications in areas such as computer vision.
The company hopes to have partnerships in all 50 states by the end of 2023.
Dell Technologies has partnered with Intel to help pay for the network of artificial intelligence incubators. The network has awarded $40,000 grants to 10 community colleges to help build AI labs. The network also supports virtual AI training and hosts monthly meetings between Dell, Intel and community colleges to help improve AI education.
Adrienne Garber is Senior Strategist for Higher Education at Dell Technologies. She told VOA Learning English that the AI for Workforce program provides students with hands-on training.
“The AI for Workforce curriculum is rooted in portfolio projects, authentic real-world learning experiences, real datasets, and problems that are contributed by a community of practice.”
Carlos Contreras is Intel’s AI for Workforce program director. He noted that the program includes training in ethics, which makes it different from other types of technology training. AI education asks students to think about when it’s good or bad to use machine learning and how people should use it.
He also noted that students can start an AI education without knowing how to write computer code. He said, “It’s a orient oneself that we see more and more around this technology. So the entry point to get into AI is lower than if you want to get into, say, cybersecurity.
Although students don’t need to learn how to build AI software, the training helps them use it in useful ways. For example, in Arizona, a team of three students from Maricopa Community College developed an AI model to help identify seizures in epileptic patients. Epilepsy is a disease that affects the central nervous system.
Contreras explained that students need to know how to define the problem they are working on, identify and to classify the data sets they need to put into the AI computational models and then run the models.
“And then all of a sudden I have a trained model, or my process, for the problem I’m trying to solve.”
Garber of Dell Technologies noted that each community college can choose how they want to use the AI for Workforce program. Instead of having one study programme for all colleges, the program can be modified to meet the needs of each community.
“They are figuring out where in their academic journeys is this going contents adapt. So it might be a certificate program, it might be an associate’s degree – in some cases it’s a full bachelor’s degree… And it’s a set of content. very reactive learning.
Gangidi’s study path
Neethi Anand Gangidi told VOA Learning English some of the details of AI training at Houston Community College. Students first learn to analyze and organize information. Python is the commonly used software and is a starting point for basic data science courses.
“And it’s very easy for any individual from any country to learn that. You have a lot of videos on it… Just install it; download it. That’s all you need. You need to access. Start exploring.”
Gangidi said that knowledge of statistics is useful for working with data, but students generally don’t need high-level math like differential calculus.
For the Introduction to Machine Learning course, Gangidi learned how to create models to process larger amounts of data. She said tools from Amazon Web Services, Nvidia, and software like Jupyter Notebook help students work with data faster and at a higher level.
HCC gave him a real data project to work on to help him use the AI training. Gangidi said working on a real project helps students gain experience, which employers appreciate.
Advice for students
Gangidi says students should put their effort into their passion or strong interests, rather than worrying about the name of the university they choose to attend in the United States.
“It doesn’t matter if you come from Stanford, Harvard or community college. It all depends on everyone. »
She became interested in HCC because it gave her the opportunity to work in teams on real problems, to use innovation and to gain leadership experience.
She added that community colleges cost less than four-year universities. In Texas, international students may also qualify for in-state tuition, the amount someone living in the state pays to attend. This, along with the scholarships, reduced his tuition from about $12,000 per semester to about $2,000 per semester.
In addition to Neethi Anand’s team, another team of HCC students won a global award at this year’s Global Impact Festival. The team used AI to develop an autonomous drone to enter dangerous places.
Gangidi thinks there are plenty of job opportunities for people learning to work with data. She said: “If you know how to manage data and if you have a passion…anything in AI, how to manage, analyze that data and make a good data story, it’s easy, you can land in an AI job at any big company out there.
I am Andrew Smith. And I’m Caty Weaver.
Andrew Smith wrote this story for VOA Learning English.
words in this story
doctorate –adj. related to the highest degree awarded for completing a study program at a university
autonomous –adj. able to act separately on its own
innovation -not. a new idea or device; the process of making new things
seizure -not. an abnormal state in which a person loses consciousness and the body moves uncontrollably
orient oneself -not. the general movement of change
to classify -v. place something in a particular group for the purpose of organizing things
study programme -not. the study plan and a school, college or university
contents -not. ideas and information in the media
to access -not. the ability to get or get into something
statistics -not. a mathematical field that deals with the collection, organization and understanding of digital information
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