Plunging into the Artificial Intelligence Wave

Illinois Tech launches new AI degree program



By Casey Moffitt
Plunging into the Artificial Intelligence Wave

The Department of Computer Science at Illinois Institute of Technology has taken an adventurous leap into the world of artificial intelligence by offering a new bachelor’s degree in the field this fall. 

Applications of AI are rapidly advancing across industries. Whether it is analyzing risk management in corporate finances, finding tumors in medical images, building an autonomous vehicle to explore other worlds, or designing a horrible supervillain for the next hot video game, AI allows computer scientists to flex their creativity to solve problems in all corners of society.

Illinois Tech, the only tech-focused university in Chicago, is taking a lead in cultivating talent in this expanding discipline by becoming one of just a handful of universities in the country to offer an AI bachelor’s degree, and the only one in the Midwest.

“AI is the future,” says Aron Culotta, an associate professor of computer science and director of Illinois Tech’s Bachelor's in Artificial Intelligence program.“We want to train a workforce that can tackle the challenges and opportunities of the future, which includes AI and machine learning.” 

While many schools offer courses and concentrations in AI, Illinois Tech—with its long history of preparing innovators who have changed the technology landscape—made the bold decision to create this specially designed degree program.

Graduates will be well prepared to work across many sectors, including tech, medicine, finance, robotics, business intelligence, law, and insurance. In addition to software development positions at large tech firms, graduates will also be prepared for AI engineering careers in drug discovery, autonomous vehicles, and web technologies.

AI has broad applications that extend far beyond robots and is used daily by anyone who shops online, uses a smartphone, or plays video games. AI technology is used to help first responders prioritize emergency calls, to improve crop yields in agriculture, and to provide virtual teaching assistants for education.

“Artificial intelligence is one of the top growth areas in the tech industry and is projected to continue growing in size and importance for the foreseeable future. AI-related job openings have increased nearly five-fold over the past few years, according to various job sites,” Culotta continues.

As AI continues to percolate into the daily lives of everyday people,graduates must be equipped with a strong ethical base and highly conscious of how biases can corrupt the fulfillment of AI’s promises. Illinois Tech has integrated ethical thinking into technical courses, which affords critical training in issues of algorithmic fairness, transparency, and bias.

“The growing impact of AI on society demands that graduates are capable and ethical collaborators, able to ensure the safe and effective adoption of new technologies across domains,” Culotta says.

Also beginning this fall, Illinois Tech is offering a Master of Artificial Intelligence degree designed for computer science professionals who want to advance their career, recent computer science graduates looking to extend their knowledge of artificial intelligence for a competitive edge in the workforce, or those without a computer science degree looking to make a career change into a growing field.