How Central New Mexico Community College is Preparing Students for AI Jobs

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At Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), the faculty and administration were just starting to think about how an AI degree would look. Then they heard about Intel’s AI program and partnership with Maricopa County Community College District to implement an AI certificate and degree program. “We heard people call it ‘the skill of the century,’” said Sionna Grassbaugh, associate dean for the School of Business & Information Technology (BIT) at CNM. “Ignoring AI would be like ignoring social media — if we didn’t talk about it, we would get left behind.” 

Determined to provide students with innovative new courses and opportunities, Grassbaugh and Kalynn Pirkl, interim dean for BIT, worked with Intel to develop the new certificate and degree. Faculty participated in an Intel training, and Grassbaugh and Pirkl worked with instructors to integrate AI courses into their existing computer science curriculum. “We want to integrate the program and make it truly cross-discipline,” Pirkl said, citing the broad applicability of AI training across the college’s departments and a wide range of industries.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the community college is based, a mix of public and private sector organizations and businesses provide a good mix of opportunities for students. “We have a strong focus on robotics in our region, so one of the unique things we’re doing is adding more robotics content to our AI program,” Grassbaugh said. In developing this curriculum, it was helpful to have Intel’s training as a baseline and talk to Maricopa County Community College District to see what instructors did in that program. “We wouldn’t be here without Intel’s support and access to those resources,” Pirkl said.

Learn more about the program here.