A Pennsylvania education institute is launching a new program for undergraduate focused on Artificial Intelligence, the first in the United States. Flyer for the new AI program at Carnegie Mellon University. (Image via cmu.edu)


Carnegie Mellon University was born in 1967 out of the merger between the Mellon research institute and Carnegie Tech. Carnegie Tech is an institution created in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie, the richest man in the country at the time, to empower those who had little access to education and offer them an opportunity to develop technical skills that could help them earn more and improve their lives. His motto “My heart is in the work” became the institution’s motto later. The Mellon research institute was created by the Mellon family in 1913 to conduct industrial research for the University of Pittsburg. The union of Carnegie Tech and Mellon Institute came to confirm the perpetual support of the Mellon family to the work and legacy of Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie Mellon has expanded outside Pittsburg and is present in more states in the US as well as internationally. Today the tandem of institutions is making history again by launching a program that is the first in its field in the United States.


With the buzz around Artificial Intelligence, it was only a matter of time that the subject is taught in universities. While many technology companies are targeting younger students for the next generation of coders or programmers, Carnegie Mellon University’s leaders probably thought “why wait?”. Given the growing interest in programs of computer science across the country, it was a wise decision to incorporate teaching AI to students of those programs. Starting fall 2018, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) will be offering an undergraduate degree program in AI. CMU’s School of Computer Science designed the curriculum for students in 2nd, 3rd and 4th year of the computer science program interested in acquiring a deeper understanding of how to use AI to improve lives.


With this new program, the School of Computer Science earned the first place for AI courses, from World Report and U.S.News. The dean of the SCS, Andrew Moore, explained that the program is catering to a growing demand for experts in artificial intelligence, especially with the school’s incredible resources in AI. Reid Simmons, the director of the new curriculum and also a computer science expert, clarified that the new program will be offered as a concentration for students who have already developed an understanding of how to utilize programming in various fields. Choosing AI as a concentration offers the students the tools to deepen that understanding by learning how to apply AI to improve vital human faculties like vision. Even though computer science students are already taking math-related courses, AI concentration courses will insist on probability, machine learning and symbolic computation among other things. And what can science do for humanity without good ethics? For that, AI students can expect to learn about social responsibility, ethics and all they need to learn to ensure that all their creations serve communities in the most respectful manner.


At its start, this fall, the AI program will welcome only 100 students out of the 735 students SCS welcomes every year in their undergraduate section. For the curriculum, the school will be utilizing its faculty members from various departments such as machine learning, language technology, robotics, human-computer interaction, etc.; but the ethics related classes will require faculty from the college of humanities and social sciences to work with the college of engineering.


Although CMU seems to get recognition only now, the institution has been involved in AI-related research since 1956 and has even pioneered research in self-driving automobiles. At this point, about 200 faculty members are collaborating to maintain the school’s reputation of a trailblazer, whether in the field of AI or robotics.


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