New AI Undergraduate Degree Attempts To Prepare Students Amid Seismic Workforce Shifts

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The University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science is charting a course for the future of work with the introduction of its Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) in Artificial Intelligence (AI) — the first undergraduate degree of its kind among Ivy League universities, and one of the first AI undergraduate engineering programs in the U.S.  

The specialized program, set to commence in fall 2024, is designed to meet the rising demand for innovative and ethically minded AI engineers as the technology becomes more utilized across diverse fields in the workforce, including in healthcare, energy, and national security. 

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According to the official blog post announcing the program, the curriculum offers “high-level coursework in topics including machine learning, computing algorithms, data analytics, and advanced robotics.” 

The school states that George J. Pappas, a recent inductee into the National Academy of Engineering, will lead the program — emphasizing the importance of using AI for positive social impact and innovation. With applications for the inaugural cohort opening for current University of Pennsylvania students this fall, and for prospective students in fall 2024, the program represents one of many important steps being taken by professionals in higher education in recognizing and preparing society for the impact of AI.  

The rapid expansion and investment into AI education and development by universities will play an important role in shaping the workforce in the coming years. As more sectors evolve through introducing automated processes, the demand for skilled AI professionals who can design, implement, and ethically manage AI systems is expected to surge. By integrating ethics into the program, the University of Pennsylvania is providing a means for students to not just become proficient engineers, but engineers who are also prepared to address the implications their work may have on society. 




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