ECE to offer new minor in artificial intelligence/machine learning
In response to a growing interest from students, Purdue’s Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is preparing to offer a minor in artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML).
Scheduled to become official for the fall 2022 semester, the school will go through the approval process this year.
“However, because our courses are already on the books, students can start taking the earlier courses now to position themselves for the minor next year,” said Milind Kulkarni, professor and associate head of teaching and learning for ECE.
Courses for the minor will not only be open to students in the College of Engineering, but also to non-Engineering majors. In tandem, the school will add a related concentration for students pursuing the BSEE and BSCmpE degrees.
“The College of Engineering has supported a tremendous amount of growth in ECE. Over the past three years, we hired more than 10 new faculty in the areas of AI, ML and data science,” Kulkarni said. “This expansion has given us the opportunity to create a number of new courses at the undergrad and grad levels that will support the AI/ML minor, as well as ensure we have enough faculty to support enrollment growth in our existing, popular AI/ML classes. We’re always keeping a close eye on our infrastructure needs, especially as we develop classes that require substantial computational support.”
The plan for the minor is to have one baseline course —the popular “Python for Data Science” class that teaches basic programming as well as provides the mathematical foundations for AI and ML. In addition, there will be a selection of five core courses from which students may choose to allow them to focus on the computational side of AI/ML, the mathematical side, or both. These plans will be finalized in accordance with Purdue University’s academic regulations.
“Finally, there is a selection of electives, which we’re really excited about,” Kulkarni said. “This is where we have the opportunity to expose the breadth of possibilities in AI/ML to students, giving them the flexibility to find what excites them in the field. We have seven electives on the books, and we’re looking to expand that menu by another three to four classes in the coming year, with potentially more being added in the future.”
Overall, the plan is for the minor to require 18 credit hours, or six courses, to complete.
Kulkarni gives a lot of credit to Purdue and the College for their efforts to improve in these key areas.
“Having opportunities for undergraduates to participate in the fruits of that growth will definitely improve our visibility. I’m imagining students going out to graduate school and bringing these ideas to all fields of engineering,” Kulkarni says.
“I also think that employers are always interested in finding people who can do ‘X+ (AI/ML/data science)’. So having a solid background in those fields will give students a real leg up in pursuing the kinds of jobs that are emerging in all areas of engineering today.”