Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Estrella Mountain Community College were named Innovator of the Year for Academia for their Artificial Intelligence partnership with Intel at the 2022 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation awards Nov. 8.
Arizona Technology Council and Arizona Commerce Authority announced the winners at the 19th annual Governor’s Celebration, while this year’s academia distinction highlights a program that is the first of its kind for community colleges. In fact, CGCC and EMCC are the first in the nation to offer an associate degree and certificate of completion in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
A main component of the project is the new AI incubator labs at CGCC and EMCC, designed to support Maricopa County Community College District students enrolled in the program. The AI labs were paid for in part by a grant from the Intel Corporation.
In addition, Intel partnered with the American Association of Community Colleges and Dell to launch the AI Incubator Network, which will select 10 new community colleges to support the design and development of AI incubators.
As the institutions at the forefront of launching the program, CGCC and EMCC are already seeing students from a variety of backgrounds choosing to study Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
“We have students who have been working in the semiconductor industry for 30 years,” Habib Mater, CGCC AI instructor, said in a release. “We also have traditional high school students coming through. We have students who major solely in AI. And we have CS students. Once you get to a certain point in most fields, you need to do some kind of research, and that requires data. And AI has a large hand in data and how we analyze it and process it in a nontraditional way.”
Matar said it was an honor to win the award for the joint accomplishment.
“Our crew was sitting in the crowd listening to the announcers mention the great work of ASU, NAU and UofA,” Matar said. “I remember feeling a tinge of disappointment as our community college system was overlooked multiple times in announcements of great work being done in education. However, when it came time to announce the winner of the academic award, CGCC and EMCC came out on top as winners. It was heartwarming to know we are being recognized for the hard work we do.”