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Deploying Impactful AI Education Programs In Rural And Underserved America Posted on : Sep 02 - 2021

As digital transformation gains traction, organizations are exploring sophisticated technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine language (ML) to improve and expedite critical functions. However, rural America remains unequipped to realize its AI transformation dreams. This equates to approximately 37 million people — roughly 15% of the nation’s total population and a potential contribution of $41.3 billion to the annual GDP —that faces a lack of access to high-quality technical education, infrastructure and talent.

In my last article in this series, I outlined the need to teach AI in rural and underserved America. Now, I’ll lay out what kind of training we should bring to the underserved in America — particularly in high-paying technical fields such as AI — to introduce economic opportunities. What follows is a guide on offering various training programs for students, businesses and government officials with the goal of solving the AI talent and training dilemma that has long faced rural America.

Focus On Building A Strong Foundation

AI education can and should be introduced as early as primary school to foster interest and curiosity. AI is already integrated into many aspects of our day-to-day lives. Take, for example, the smart devices children play with and miniature robot toys like Cozmo. Finding ways to fuel their inquisitiveness around how these devices work is a good first step.

This sense of curiosity can be transformed at middle and high school levels into solid interest. This can be done with a curriculum complete with programming languages such as Python, advanced mathematics, data science and analytics. Depending on where students are in their learning journeys, they should then be offered different tiers of AI and ML training courses.

About 28% of high school freshmen indicate the desire to eventually work in a STEM-related field, but 57% of those will lose interest by the time they graduate. Therefore, educational institutions should also incorporate information on the types of career opportunities AI and ML skills can create into their training programs. After all, not everyone who wants an AI-related career has to be an AI engineer. Indeed, they can choose to be AI and data strategists in almost any industry.

Employing a mix of AI expos, workshops and career fairs, which will go hand-in-hand with AI training, can bolster students’ interest in the field. Doing so will also help students make prudent decisions around higher education and career ambitions. View More