September 12th, 2019
Pictured, l-r, are some of those involved in the creation of StFX's new two-year diploma program, the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Dr. Mike Melchin, then StFX Dean of Science, Maica Murphy, Academic Project Coordinator, StFX computer science faculty Dr. Man Lin, Dr. Iker Gondra and Dr. Jacob Levman. Missing are Gina Sampson, Manager, Academic Projects and Planning and computer science faculty Drs. Laurence Yang, Wendy MacCaull, Qingchen Zhang, and James Hughes.
St. Francis Xavier University is introducing a new two-year diploma program, the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Artificial Intelligence (AI), that will provide students with the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills in the highly sought-after field of AI.
The program starts in January 2020, and is intended for students from any field who already have an undergraduate degree, which is not in computer science. The program is concentrated and rigorous, with at least half of the courses at the upper-year levels. Students will take courses in a variety of topics related to artificial intelligence, learn how AI is currently used, and develop the technical skills necessary to work in this cutting-edge field.
“Artificial intelligence is rapidly growing and is being used more and more to solve a wide variety of problems in both industry and academia. We are very excited that students at StFX will have the opportunity to participate in this timely, emerging field,” say StFX computer science faculty Dr. Iker Gondra and Dr. Man Lin.
“What’s really exciting is computer science and AI in general have so much potential applications outside computer science. There’s a big disconnect between people who have those skills and people who need them. This program can really bridge that gap,” says StFX computer science professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics Dr. Jacob Levman. “We can train people for this next generation of skills needed in these wide variety of disciplines.”
This program, they say, is ideal for students with undergraduate degrees in a wide range of different fields of study, including both the sciences and the humanities, who are seeking to complement their undergraduate education for the purposes of applying artificial intelligence to solve practical problems in their own fields, for advancing their own fields, or the AI field more generally.
From Siri to self-driving cars, technological advances that rely on artificial intelligence systems include applications such as medical diagnosis, computer-assisted translation tools, speech recognition, biometrics, entertainment, and a variety of classification and predictive technologies.
Dr. Mike Melchin, then StFX Dean of Science, says one of the things that excites him about the new program is that it could draw students from a wide range of backgrounds, including international students. “This will add a lot of breadth to the classroom experience. All the students will benefit, with the intermixing of students who come into the program from other degrees,” he says.
The new Post-Baccalaureate Diploma is well suited for StFX, he says, where the Department of Computer Science already has a high level of knowledge and expertise in this field. Several faculty members are specialists, and AI is a significant focus in the department. Another benefit to students is StFX’s smaller class sizes and the opportunity to become involved in research.
“We have this enormous amount of expertise in engaging undergraduates in research here,” Dr. Melchin says.
The faculty say artificial intelligence is an area that is in high demand, and graduates of this program will be prepared for entry into the workplace or into applied graduate programs, such as StFX’s new Master of Applied Science in Computer Science.
Statistics show an inadequate supply of, and strong demand for computer science graduates. In Canada, the Information and Communications Technology Council, an independent and neutral policy advisor to business and governments across Canada, released a report indicating Canada will need to fill about 216,000 technology-related positions by 2021, up from 2015 predictions of 182,000 by 2019.
The report says this demand stems from a steadily growing Canadian digital economy, which experienced a 2.38 per cent growth rate between 2011 and 2016, compared to the 1.17 per cent growth seen in the rest of the economy. The report also finds that over half of tech professionals in the digital economy work in non-tech industries, indicating an increased prevalence of the use of advanced technology across all sectors of the economy.
The diploma is comprised of 48 credits taken usually over four semesters and has the fundamental computer science courses required of the advanced major in computer science while also focusing on AI related courses.
Those interested in more information, or to apply are asked to email email@example.com. Deadline for applications for the program starting in January 2020 are Oct. 10, 2019 for international students and Nov. 15, 2019 for domestic students.