Artificial Intelligence courses should be incentivized more

Screenshot of the badge students receive for completing FIU’s Artificial Intelligence micro-credential| Courtesy of the Division of Academic & Student Affairs.

Sim Sitzer | Contributing Writer

FIU is a leading institution for artificial intelligence education, however there needs to be more initiative for students to take AI courses. This would fundamentally shift it from being a niche subject to one that is understood university wide.

FIU currently offers an MS In Data Science & AI and a concentration in AI and Big Data within the BS in Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering. Additionally, master’s programs are in the incubator such as an MBA in Business Analytics and AI, MS in Health Informatics and AI, and an AI track in the MS in Information Systems.

Yet, as AI becomes ever more important and relevant to almost every single industry and field, most students are still graduating with zero education in it.

A course that is worth students’ attention is IDC 2002: Artificial Intelligence for All. It describes itself as a non-Computer Science course with “no high-level math or programming required.” Strangely, it has only one student currently enrolled for its sole offering this Fall.

The course section is taught by Dr. Mark A. Finlayson, an Eminent Scholar Chaired Associate Professor of Computer Science. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science from MIT and was named Edison Fellow for Artificial Intelligence for 2019-2021 at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

So what explains students’ disinterest in this course? A lack of requiring and incentivizing students to take it.

Making IDC 2002 a University Core Curriculum course option would drive interest in this vital course in this digital age.

It is also worth considering creating a non-technical Undergraduate Certificate in AI or even a minor in AI, which would enable students to study the topic in-depthly.

Although the College of Arts, Sciences & Education already offers an Undergraduate Certificate in Ethics, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, it is too focused on general ethics and statistics to attract students just interested in AI.

And while the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy offers an Undergraduate Certificate in Cybersecurity Intelligence & Information Policy, I think there is space to create an undergraduate certificate in AI policy, or even an undergraduate certificate in technology policy which could include AI policy within it.

By the same token, the Office of Micro-Credentials offers a micro-credential called Artificial Intelligence: How it Works and its Impact. But as with many micro-credentials, this won’t appear on your transcript or reward any credits, even while carrying the workload of a one-credit course.

Even though these programs are predominant in their own ways, they don’t fulfill the need for comprehensive undergraduate programming in AI.

Nonetheless, FIU has taken significant steps to lay the groundwork for it to become an international leader in ensuring that its graduates come away with an understanding of AI.

The College of Engineering and Computing boasts 16 labs and centers dedicated to AI and Big Data – that’s extremely impressive.

As students use AI tools such as ChatGPT more and more for their classwork, not only should professors be restructuring their classes to ensure students are learning the course material, but also teaching students how to ethically and proficiently harness the power of AI.

AI has already begun to change the world. FIU needs to make sure they are fully promoting students to learn about this emerging field from transdisciplinary perspectives.


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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