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Artificial Intelligence Incubator, certificate program bring new opportunities for AI education

GRCC — From chatbots to educational games, use of artificial intelligence in the classroom is a hot topic in education circles, and Grand Rapids Community College is adding to the conversation twofold.

GRCC recently unveiled the Artificial Intelligence Incubator, in the lower level of Calkins Science Center, 226 Bostwick Ave. NE, as a space for workshops, presentations, networking and community use. The community college also is launching an Artificial Intelligence Certificate program this fall, bringing another credential opportunity to students.

In the incubator, sessions will be free for the community — including targeted opportunities for educators.

“We know a lot of K-12 teachers would like to learn about AI,” said Jonnathan Resendiz, assistant professor at the Computer Information Systems department and director of the AI Incubator. 

“K-12 has been moving heavily into computer education,” he said. “High schools are moving into teaching students computer science, which five years ago we didn’t have … I could see that artificial intelligence could be taught in high school, and I think AI will become mainstream in the K-12 setting.”

Business and education leaders toured the high-tech hub during an open house, discovering ways to tie in AI education with their organizations and schools. They also learned about possibilities available through the certificate program.

Business and education representatives recently learned about the new GRCC Artificial Intelligence Incubator (courtesy)

The lab was developed through a partnership with Intel, which provided equipment and training, Resendiz said. Funding also came from a grant provided by the American Association of Community Colleges and Dell Technologies.

The incubator will serve as a place for community building, education and skills development, mentoring and networking, and career growth. It will also have time slots for people to use the computers at no charge.

Opportunities Stem from AI

GRCC’s Artificial Intelligence Certificate will add another credential for employees or will be paired with other certificates, an associate or bachelor’s degree, said Dean of STEM Kristi Haik.

The 23-credit certificate program consists of seven courses, including a collaborative capstone, all of which can be completed online. The certificate can be included in an Academic Pathways degree or other flexible two-year degrees, based on student needs and transfers to other colleges or universities, she said.

‘I could see that artificial intelligence could be taught in high school, and I think AI will become mainstream in the K-12 setting.’

— Jonnathan Resendiz, faculty director of AI Incubator at GRCC

During the open house, Brooke Storms, instructional technology coordinator at Kentwood Public Schools, said she sees the space and certificate as “another pathway for our kids that we are developing.”

Keli Christopher, founder and chief executive of STEM Greenhouse, said she was excited to see another resource for youth. The Grand Rapids-based non-profit offers an after-school program called STEM Scholars for several Grand Rapids Public Schools elementary and middle schools, as well as other middle school and high school programming. 

The Sankofa STEM Academy, a STEM Greenhouse summer program offered at local colleges including GRCC, focuses on a different career path each week. AI is now one of them, Christopher said.

“AI is the future. We definitely want students to have this experience now,” she said, noting opportunities to learn about AI in high school, including in the GRCC AI Certificate program through dual-enrollment. 

“They may only be in middle school now, but it’s not going to be very long before they are going to have to make some of these decisions (about career pathways).”

Read more from GRCC: 
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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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