CNM Launches New Artificial Intelligence (AI) Program

The program will help train students to enter one of the country’s most in-demand fields
July 29, 2021

Starting in the upcoming Fall Term, students interested in Artificial Intelligence (AI) will now be able to get a certificate from CNM. The college also plans to offer a full associate degree in AI next year. 

The new program is being offered thanks to a partnership with Intel. That company, through its Workforce Program, recently partnered with 18 community colleges in 11 states with a plan to train up thousands of new students for this quickly growing field. CNM is the only college in New Mexico offering the program.

“Here at CNM we always want to be on the cutting edge and be ready to train students for the jobs that are most in demand,” says Kalynn Pirkl, the Interim Dean for CNM’s School of Business & Information Technology (BIT) where the AI program is housed. 

In the AI certificate and associate degree program, CNM students will learn about data collection, AI model training, coding, and the societal impact of AI technology. When they’re done, they’ll be primed to land jobs in fields including high tech, healthcare, automotive, industrial, and aerospace. 

CNM and Intel are launching the program now because there’s a growing need to reskill and upskill Americans after the pandemic and because AI has exploded in popularity. According to a 2021 co-branded Dell and Intel survey, AI skills were the second most in-demand skill behind cybersecurity. Additionally, Intel says 50 percent of community college educators across the country anticipate AI and machine learning (AI/ML) as the areas of study most expected to increase in demand over the next three years. At four-year institutions, 64 percent of educators anticipate the largest increase of interest will be in AI/ML studies, followed by cybersecurity. Intel also found that 73-percent of survey respondents expect AI literacy skills to become higher in-demand by a diversity of employers.

“Ignoring AI today is like ignoring social media a decade or two ago,” says Sionna Grassbaugh, the Associate Dean in BIT. “That’s how much it’s going to make a difference. That’s how much things are going to change.”

To support the new AI program at CNM, Intel is contributing technical advice, faculty training, summer internships for students, and Intel mentors for both students and faculty members. There are seven classes in the certificate that cover a broad range of topics including coding, data visualization, and information literacy. 

Sionna says the program was specifically built for a wide audience, and students don’t need a computer science background. Instead, she says, the college is encouraging students in fields like business and health to apply because it will supplement those degrees. 

“This program is meant for anyone interested in AI,” she says. “When you combine AI with your career technical background, you’ll be set for success.”