First AI Associate Degree Program Launched through Partnership of MCCCD and Intel

Artificial Intelligence technology is rapidly accelerating with new tools, technology, and applications that are driving increased demand for workforce training.

Maricopa County Community College District

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) announced a collaboration with Intel and the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) to create Arizona’s first Artificial Intelligence certificate and degree program enabling tens of thousands of students to land careers in healthcare, automotive, industrial and aerospace fields. The Maricopa Community Colleges will be one of the first in the U.S. to train workers for the region’s driving demands in Artificial Intelligence technology, allowing access for more students to master skills valuable across many occupations and industry sectors and ultimately improving the nation’s workforce, economy, and community.

“I am pleased to announce our partnership with Intel,” said Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, MCCCD Interim Chancellor. “This program will train our students for a competitive workforce, strengthen Arizona’s economy as well as help close the opportunity gap we see across the state and be a model for Educational Institutions across the nation.”

Looking at the broader occupational forecast, Arizona and Phoenix are projected to see 21,535 AI employment opportunities in 2020, which is six percent above the national average. The local demand for AI talent is increasing in Maricopa County, and careers are projected to grow faster than the average rate for all employment over the next decade. Research done by MCCCD Workforce and Economic Development Office estimates an increase of 22.4 percent for these roles by 2029 according to Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc.*

We strongly believe AI technology should be shaped by many voices representing different experiences and backgrounds,” said Gregory Bryant, Intel’s executive vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group. “Community Colleges offer the opportunity to expand and diversify AI since they attract a diverse array of students with a variety of backgrounds and expertise. Intel is committed to partnering with educational institutions to expand access to technology skills needed for current and future jobs “

The Maricopa Community Colleges will launch the first two courses in the Artificial Intelligence & Machine-learning (AIM) program virtually as soon as Fall 2020. By January 2021, MCCCD plans to have all five courses deployed for the Spring 2021 semester. Students will be able to enroll in five AIM courses and earn a Certificate of Completion and Associate’s degree, equipping Maricopa County students with skills needed to enter the workforce.

The program enables students to develop traditional skills such as data collection, AI model training, coding, and exploring the societal impact of AI technology. Occupations currently requesting AI skills include business analyst, java developer, data engineer, marketing manager, health manager, engineer, product manager, developer, front end developer, architect, etc. Top employers requesting these skills include Intel, IBM, Wells Fargo, Deloitte, American Express, and others.

As the state’s leading economic development organization, the Arizona Commerce Authority recognizes a workforce with artificial intelligence skills is critical to support the state’s targeted and emerging industries. The ACA will be providing marketing and workforce connectivity strategies to support the development and growth of the program.

“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,” said Sandra Watson, Arizona Commerce Authority President & CEO. “Ensuring companies have access to talent with AI skills is key to Arizona’s continued economic success. We’re proud to partner with the Maricopa County Community College District and Intel to launch this new program.”

As physical distancing requirements are lifted, and the status of the COVID-19 pandemic lessen, classes will begin in-person at Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Estrella Mountain Community College. The health and safety of the Maricopa community will continue to be the number one priority for the District. Students will be able to enroll online for virtual learning, starting for the Fall 2020 semester.

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