DSU wants to offer a degree in AI

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state government panel that oversees South Dakota’s public universities will discuss next week whether Dakota State University at Madison can start offering a bachelor degree in artificial intelligence next fall.

The state Board of Regents plans to talk about the proposal Thursday morning, December 10, as part of their teleconference meeting.

A document provided to the board says Dakota State can provide the degree by combining various courses already used for other degrees. In August, the regents said Dakota State could proceed with a an undergraduate minor in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

No other university in South Dakota offers a bachelor degree in artificial intelligence. Among neighboring states, the only AI-related degree currently available is through the University of Minnesota at its main campus in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The request says, “In regard to South Dakota, the biggest player in the economy is agriculture. Research and deployment of AI software and robotics will be a key component to increasing crop and livestock production, as well as operational throughput. Also, AI is used in many areas of medical research, which ties into Sanford and Avera hospitals in the region.”

South Dakota State University at Brookings now offers the nation’s first bachelor degree in precision agriculture and is finishing construction of a new precision-agriculture center.

The Dakota State request for the artificial-intelligence degree notes “that many new jobs created for degrees such as this are new enough such that they are not listed on the South Dakota Department of Labor’s (SDoL) website or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).”

Dakota State expects 15 new students would enroll in the AI track this fall and 20 in following years. The request compares the potential to the university’s experience with its undergraduate cyber-operations degree.

“Their program started with 65 students in the Fall of 2013 and rose to 489 as of Fall 2019. By advertising the (AI) program, and the fact that it will be the only such program in the region, then enrollment would likely follow a similar trajectory, which has seen continual growth since its (cyber-operations) inception,” the request says.

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