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The Future is Artificial Intelligence

In 2016, major companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft signaled loud and clear where the tech world is headed: Artificial Intelligence.

Referred to as AI, tech companies are scrambling to translate it into consumer products and services such as virtual reality and smart home systems, but other industries such as health care, manufacturing, and transportation are also poised for transformation.

One of the challenges these companies face, however, is finding qualified talent to work in this in-demand area.

To help address the pressing need for advanced skills in a changing workforce, edX and Columbia Engineering have partnered to offer the first Artificial Intelligence MicroMasters program. A new educational model, the MicroMasters program combines the convenience of online learning with the rigor of a traditional Master’s Degree program taught by top Columbia faculty. In fact, students who seek certification and successfully complete all four AI courses can count their certificate toward one quarter or up to one semester of a Master’s Degree at a participating institution.

Columbia Engineering Dean Mary C. Boyce believes the program will allow a diverse group of learners to gain a step up in their career evolution.

“What’s significant about the MicroMasters program is that students are getting the same level of excellence in instruction that they would receive on campus in Columbia’s engineering program,” she said. “The flexibility of this program makes it ideal for someone like a working professional with a family or someone at a key time in their career who can’t take time away from the workforce.”

“For those who might not have the time or resources to attend a Master’s program, or who would need to complete such a program at a faster pace, this is a great option. Since AI will be such a transformative field, we want to make it as accessible as we can to a greater number of people,” she added.

Similar to the successful Data Science series offered by Columbia, this is a self-paced program. Launching January 16, the program will feature four courses: the fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, as well as courses on two major applications: Robotics and Computer Animation.

Soulaymane Kachani, Senior Vice Dean for Columbia Engineering, says the program was designed to give students a solid foundation in AI that will give learners an important edge in one of the fastest growing industries.

Said Kachani, “Employers are in need of professionals with working knowledge of AI, but can’t always find them. The program offers learners skills needed to bridge that gap and a certificate that demonstrates this capacity to employers. That will be very attractive on the job market and it’s an invaluable opportunity you can’t find anywhere else.”

Ansaf Salleb-Aouissi from Columbia Engineering’s Computer Science Department will kick-off the first course in Artificial Intelligence on January 16. Other faculty include Electrical Engineering Professor John Paisley and Computer Science Professor Eitan Grinspun, whose work in helping to create realistic CGI animation is currently on display in Disney’s Moana. Professor Matei Ciocarlie, who teaches the Robotics course, believes the time is right for web-based learning in AI.

“Thanks to a sustained effort by the robotics community to develop open source resources, we now have widely accessible software packages that anybody can use to visualize and program robot models,” he said. “This allows us to teach Robotics over the web in a way that simply was not possible a decade ago.”

The first course begins January 16. Enroll today.

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This post was written by Allison Elliott, Communications Writer at The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University.