HCC’s bachelor’s degree of applied technology in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics addresses booming demand

Oct 25, 2023

Houston Community College’s (HCC) pioneering bachelor’s degree of applied technology in AI and Robotics is now well underway to help meet the surging demand for professionals trained in artificial intelligence.

The program, which began in the fall semester, aims to equip students with a solid foundation and industry-guided, practical skills to prepare them for careers in the rapidly evolving AI and robotics industry.

“As a community college, we’re forging new paths to ensure AI education is accessible and inclusive,” said Dr. Margaret Ford Fisher, HCC Interim Chancellor. “The goal is to cultivate talent that will shape our future in this burgeoning field that has so much promise for good.”

HCC holds the distinction of being the first to offer a bachelor’s degree in AI and Robotics at the community college level, following its pioneering AI associate degree of applied science that launched in Texas two years ago. With an initial enrollment of 45 students in 2020, the associate degree program has seen steady growth to 164 for the 2022-2023 academic year and already at 234 this academic year.

The college has 10 students currently enrolled in its bachelor’s program this Fall semester. Three are recent graduates and seven are transitioning from the completion of the two-year program and into the bachelors.

The associate degree program served as the foundation for the four-year bachelor’s degree. It was developed with the help of industry and continues to evolve through collaboration with leading tech firms, including Amazon Web Services, Intel, NVIDIA, Apple, Microsoft and Google. The comprehensive curriculum explores diverse subjects, from AI in cybersecurity to building machine learning models and designing healthcare applications with computer vision.

The training includes ethical considerations, promoting responsible AI applications and bias mitigation in areas like talent engagement. Students also use innovative tools and labs at the college’s West Loop campus and engage in projects that address real-world challenges.

“Our program has generated increasing interest among students who seek to retool and reskill for promising technical careers,” said Dr. Madeline Burillo-Hopkins, HCC system vice chancellor of Workforce Instruction and president of Southwest College. “There are many jobs in our region awaiting talented professionals.”

The greater Houston area offers an average of 2,600 job openings in the AI sector each year, with a median salary of $97,200, according to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

“This degree took many years in the making and at times when robotic technology was not as approachable as now thanks to the advancements in 3D printing, small-form factor chips, and edge to cloud computing technologies," said Samir Saber, dean of the Digital and Information Technology Center of Excellence. "Our students will lead the way as we shift our industries using AI and robotics for transportation, supply chain, logistics and manufacturing.” 

Cristina Ortiz, Intel’s AI education manager, lauded HCC as a leading partner in Intel’s AI for Workforce initiative. “The college has built a robust program that delivers remarkable student outcomes,” she said. “HCC stands as an exemplary model for other schools to emulate.”

For more information go to hccs.edu/ai-bat.

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