The University of Florida is one of the nation’s first universities to offer its students AI Across the Curriculum with courses in artificial intelligence available in all 16 colleges. Our nation’s need for a skilled AI workforce grows daily and can only be met by reaching new learners as well as upskilling existing workers. At UF, AI is for everyone with no need for backgrounds in engineering or data science. The university currently offers 230 AI and data science courses at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels with many more in the developmental stages. These courses are in every college, from the arts to agriculture.
UF has been building a comprehensive, inclusive model to reach new K-20 students as well as upskilling the current workforce via a micro-credential in artificial intelligence. As the state’s premier Land-Grant institution, UF already had hundreds of existing faculty who were using AI in their teaching and research. This was expanded by hiring 100 new AI-focused faculty in 2020. Comprehensive AI research is supported with HiPerGator, one of the fastest supercomputers in higher education, gifted to UF by the NVIDIA Corp. This resource is available to all faculty and students, as well as other universities and industries. In 2022, the university also established centralized leadership of AI academic efforts via the establishment of the Artificial Intelligence Academic Initiative (AI2) Center.
UF students can begin their AI learning with our signature course, Fundamentals of AI, which requires no prior knowledge of artificial intelligence, engineering or computer science. Students can continue with more advanced AI courses in UF’s many disciplines or enroll in UF’s nine-credit certificate program in artificial intelligence. This model of teaching AI broadly across all disciplines is the foundation for Building an AI University and results in a larger and more diverse group of students who will graduate UF with AI knowledge. The goal of AI Across the Curriculum is the creation of an interdisciplinary AI-ready workforce as well as preparing our students for the jobs of the future, many of which will require AI knowledge.
UF’s strong and diverse research portfolio is incorporating and applying AI and data science across disciplines. This infusion of technology will supercharge the university’s successful research and development portfolio. In 2020, the university stimulated AI research activity by awarding 20 faculty teams in varied disciplines $50,000 each to pursue AI-related projects. With HiPerGator at their disposal, UF faculty can analyze vast amounts of data and predict solutions to health, agriculture, engineering and educational challenges. To support student research, the AI2 Center is funding stipends for student AI Scholars to support their research with an AI faculty mentor.
Bringing skills and competencies to the forefront of our AI curriculum development links learning to professional employment needs. UF has an AI pathways career coach in its nationally ranked Career Connections Center to help equip students with the knowledge and connections needed for the AI-ready workforce. The center, which has connections with more than 2,000 companies, will educate students on the use of AI in the job recruitment process as well as facilitating internships and career opportunities.
The University of Florida is committed to leveraging its artificial intelligence knowledge and resources by partnering with other institutions, K-20, thereby reaching far more people and having a far greater impact than it could alone. UF is partnering with the state’s largest historically black university, Florida A & M, as well as the country’s largest college enrolling hispanic students, Miami Dade College, to collaborate with the colleges’ faculty to create courses and integrate AI into their curriculum. This helps to ensure that a diverse AI-enabled workforce will be of varied interests, backgrounds, races, ethnicities. UF is also partnering with several state colleges, including Palm Beach State College, and the state’s public-school districts to create an AI curriculum to educate their students. Florida is among the first states to adopt a K-12 artificial intelligence education program, and UF faculty are helping in the design of the curriculum, learning standards and benchmarks. As a leader of the Southeast Conference intelligence Consortium, UF is spearheading what may be the first athletics conference collaboration on AI. This collaboration will share educational resources, promote faculty and staff development and seek joint partnerships with industry seeking AI visionaries.