To meet the booming demand for artificial intelligence professionals, the University of North Texas in Denton announced this week it will offer the only Master of Science degree in artificial intelligence in Texas beginning in the fall.
UNT said that AI applications are growing—finding a place in almost all industries, including government services, transportation, healthcare, cybersecurity, autonomous systems, finance, and more. The new program will be one of only a few such AI master’s degrees offered in the nation, and will offer students the choice of three concentrations: machine learning, autonomous systems, and biomedical engineering.
The program could have wide-reaching impact, according to Dave Copps, a Dallas-based AI entrepreneur and UNT alum. Copps, the CEO and co-founder of Dallas-based AI platform Worlds, says it’s exciting to see a North Texas university step to the leading edge in AI.
“The new Master of Science in AI from UNT is the only degree of its kind in Texas—and one of less than 10 equivalent degrees in the nation,” Copps told Dallas Innovates.
Although Copps isn’t involved in the program in an official capacity, the AI expert is passionate about both artificial intelligence and the university, where he serves as a mentor and guest lecturer.
“AI is an apex technology that will—literally—impact every industry going forward. There has never been a better time, or a better way, to prepare students for the jobs of the future,” he says. “This combination accurately reflects the current needs of the market and will set a great foundation for the college to expand and build upon in the future.”
“It’s not going too far to say that graduates with this degree will literally play a part in changing the world,” he says. For example, “With AI, drug development timelines are already being reduced by as much as 80 percent.”
Of the new UNT program, Copps found its Autonomous Systems concentration particularly exciting.
To Copps, it will also help the AI industry attract new breakthrough companies that specialize in developing innovations like autonomous vehicles, robotics, and unmanned aerial vehicles. The biomedical engineering concentration, for instance, will help place graduates at companies that could cure cancer or eradicate pandemic diseases, he says.
AI is a hot career path
According to a report by Gartner, the business value created by AI will reach $3.9 trillion in 2022.
UNT said students will be able to explore specific interests in AI and will leave the program with marketable skills. That’s important in an industry that Forbes has labeled as one of the “Hottest Career Paths of 2020 and Beyond.”
Forbes assembled a panel of experts to detail the hot careers in coming years. Of AI, panel member Tracy Levine of Advantage Talent Inc. wrote: “AI will continue to contribute to global economic activity and job growth. The job growth areas include R&D, application of AI across industries to grow capabilities, using AI to solve complex global issues, AI education and evaluating the ethics and impact of AI on society. The U.S. is leading in educational opportunities for students to learn the skills needed for AI jobs.”
UNT says its AI Master’s Degree is only the latest of new innovative programs
Worldwide spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence systems will reach $79.2 billion in 2022, according to IDC, which said that cognitive capabilities are poised to have an impact on nearly every corporate IT function.
UNT Provost Jennifer Cowley said that the AI program is among the latest in the university’s history of developing first-of-its-kind, groundbreaking degrees for Texas and nationally.
“UNT is committed to launching the most innovative degree programs to keep our university and our students at the forefront of industry trends that are moving our world forward,” Cowley said. “All three of these (AI) programs were designed with the student’s career needs in mind and are prime examples of how UNT responds to the needs of business with creative solutions.”
A decorated research university, UNT is one of the three North Texas universities that have achieved the prestigious R-1: Doctoral Universities rating from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
Quincy Preston contributed to this report.
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