An artificial intelligence lab was unveiled this morning at the Williams Campus of Chander-Gilbert Community College. The incubator lab builds on the Intel AI for Workforce program that was launched in 2020 in schools across the U.S. The Maricopa County district was the first to offer an associate degree program in AI and currently has 200 students enrolled.

The new lab is first-of-its-kind in the U.S. and debuts with $60,000 of Intel-based platforms including workstations and open-source AI software tools. It will support college courses that include Introduction to Machine Learning, AI for Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing and AI for Business.

The opening of the lab was marked with breakfast and an introductory ceremony that included college staff, Intel leadership, government officials and students currently enrolled in the AI program.

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“Within the last two years, we have been able to see our students gain new AI skills, and we are proud to have our first graduating class from the AI program this spring,” said Maricopa County Community College District chancellor Steven Gonzales. “This lab is critical to providing the necessary tools for their education, and we are appreciative of Intel, Dell and the State of Arizona for the designated space so our faculty and students can thrive.”

Habib Matar graduated with a degree from Chandler Gilbert Community College at the age of 16. Fast forward eight years, and now he is a professor teaching five of the six AI classes in the new associate degree program. He sees the potential for AI and how it will benefit Arizona. “Most industries use computing and collect data on, let’s say, how well their customers view the company or employee satisfaction,” says Matar. “AI is really a catch-all with most industries, but for Arizona, the biggest industries would be manufacturing and banking because we have so much of that here.”

Chandler Councilmember, OD Harris (middle) and Chandler Gilbert Community College AI students, David Carrington (L) and Josh Sinnott (R) at the unveiling of the new AI lab at the Williams campus.

Intel became involved with the AI lab as it wants to help the U.S. workforce acquire new and important skills in emerging technologies. AI has limitless applications in many industries including a wide variety of businesses, healthcare, nursing, systems automation and more.

Brian Gonzalez is the executive director of government partnerships at Intel. “Today’s event brings an exciting new chapter in innovation for Arizona,” says Gonzalez. “In recent years, Arizona has become a premiere destination for innovation and emerging technologies including artificial intelligence. AI jobs are in demand.” Intel, Deloitte and Wells Fargo are only three of the companies seeking candidates with AI skills. He goes on to say that in March of 2022, over 2,000 jobs were available where employers were specifically seeking employees with experience in artificial intelligence, an increase of eight percent from just a month earlier.

Chandler Councilmember OD Harris is enthusiastic about having such an innovative addition. “This is exactly what Chandler needs right now,” says Harris. “We finally have a ground where kids can go from Basha (High School) from our technology schools, into a program where students can stay here, learn and follow a career path and pipeline to get to Intel. I’m super excited!”

Intel Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Client Computing Group, Michelle Johnston Holthaus says, “Our goal is to make this program available in all 50 states by 2023. We are grateful for our partners, including Maricopa County Community College District, Dell and the State of Arizona for joining with us to help increase digital readiness of our future workforces.”

One of the students in the AI program is taking classes to augment his knowledge base with up-to-the-minute skills that will make him a more valuable employee. “I like to stay at the leading edge of technology,” says David Carrington, a software engineer. “I found out about this program at Chandler Gilbert Community College and jumped right in. I’m interested in using AI for robotics, manufacturing automation and vehicle safety systems. I’m sure I’ll also find other interesting uses for the technology.”

It is projected that Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale will open an AI lab on its campus in summer 2022. For more information about the AI degree available at Chandler Gilbert Community College, click here.