University of South Dakota’s Artificial Intelligence Program Proves Attractive to People of All Careers
VERMILLION, SD — Technology impacts every aspect of life and those who can develop and implement these systems are in high demand.
The University of South Dakota’s computer science program has grown significantly in recent years. It is also the first university in South Dakota to offer an artificial intelligence program and attracts students from around the world.
The Computer Science program offers degrees in computer science, data science, and artificial intelligence while providing opportunities for internships and student groups.
SHU saw a 137% increase in the number of international students graduating this year, with almost all of the growth in the computer science program.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for computer scientists is expected to grow 21% by 2031 and the demand for data scientists is expected to grow 36% over the same period, both faster than the mean.
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The demand for artificial intelligence and machine learning experts is expected to increase by 71%.
KC Santosh is the chair of the computer science program and founded the artificial intelligence program at USD.
Simply put, artificial intelligence is the use of machine learning, data science, image processing, signal processing, pattern recognition, and data mining algorithms, to to name a few, to solve complex and difficult problems and large data sets to solve.
“As the world is data-driven, predictive modeling is another term, which businesses and the market would like to call an AI-driven tool,” Santosh said.
“Traditionally speaking, AI technologies and tools are used when there is a complicated task that can be costly and error-prone when done manually,” Santosh said.
Santosh said the need for artificial intelligence is everywhere and can be implemented in many ways. He said the ability to analyze and predict what to do next was important in many sectors such as health, education, transport, security, defence, agriculture and finance.
“Data arrives everywhere, it is collected over time, and regardless of the source of the data, there is a strong need for AI/data analysts to interpret information, make decisions and to visualize the results,” Santosh said. “USD Responds to Industry Demands with Academic AI Programs.”
Santosh is an AI expert and started with USD in 2015. Instead of working for massive tech companies like Apple, Meta, or Google, he wanted to be an academic.
He said university researchers don’t have restrictions like companies and can look 10 years into the future. For example, he said bitcoin; a cryptocurrency – based on a white paper – was invented in 2008 and many years later people created it.
“We are more ambitious,” he said.
Santosh said he sees the growth potential in the USD. He said the state was at least 10 years behind other states in terms of technological advancement. He began researching how to prepare the workforce using an artificial intelligence program to serve South Dakota. The program was officially announced in 2020 and was first implemented in fall 2021.
The school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in AI, as well as certificates for non-IT majors, called a Data Science Certificate.
AI is not just for computer scientists. The AI certificate allows individuals to create computer tools to analyze their data that they produce in their respective career fields. Instead of having to hire a computer scientist to analyze the data, someone who has the certificate can do the job.
Santosh used a hat as an analogy. The main degree or area of interest of a student is the hat and the RN certificate is a feather.
“Let’s say you’re a biology student, that’s the hat, the hat is already beautiful,” he said. “Having a feather in the hat makes you more powerful and confident in your work and you are different from others.”
Santosh said when running a Kaggle competition related to data science, 67% of entrants were not computer science majors. He said it shows that people are interested and motivated to learn data science, and it’s not difficult.
“Let’s build our state together, it’s not too late,” he said.
The graduate program currently has 159 students, and Santosh expects a minimum of 70 additional students in the spring of 2023.
“Learn the ins and outs of the latest technological developments including artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, pattern recognition, data science, information retrieval, internet of things, cybersecurity and big data,” according to the USD website.
Suprin Nakarmi is in her second semester of the Computer Science graduate program. He was drawn to the university because of the specialization in artificial intelligence and the work done by Santosh.
Nakarmi said Santosh explains difficult concepts gracefully and wants to work with him. Most of the courses taken by Nakarmi are related to AI.
As a native of Nepal, Nakarmi said he liked how AI could be used in low- and middle-income countries to help with basic health checks and diagnostics.
“If the case is too serious, they can get help faster,” he said.
IT and AI are high-paying jobs, with a median salary above $100,000. The top five IT jobs and salaries are: Machine Learning Engineer at $142,859, Data Scientist at $126,927, Computer Vision Engineer at $126,400, Data Warehouse Architect at $126,008, and Software Engineer. algorithms at $109,313.
Santosh said a student graduating from the AI program in December will work for a company earning $105,000 with a bonus of $10,500 each year. Another student will work for a company earning $129,000 with a bonus of $27,000 each year.
An internship offered $66,000 for three months of work for a student.
“Computer science graduates specializing in AI make more money than anyone else on average in the state of South Dakota,” Santosh said.
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