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Miami Dade College opens Artificial Intelligence Center to bolster tech education

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People watch a live virtual reality class on September 20, 2022, at the Artificial Intelligence Center on Miami-Dade College's North Campus.

People watch a live virtual reality class on September 20, 2022, at the Artificial Intelligence Center on Miami-Dade College’s North Campus.

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Entering Miami Dade College’s new artificial intelligence center Tuesday on its North Miami campus, a college administrator asked a hologram named Sky to name the college’s trustees.

Without hesitation, Sky reminded each guardian while the crowd around her babbled in awe. The sky is just one example of the innovation found at the center.

As part of its efforts to better prepare students and local residents for technology careers, Miami Dade College and its foundation invested $6.5 million to build a 13,000-square-foot center on the second floor of one of its campus buildings.

MIami Dade College President Antonio Delgado said the center exemplifies the college’s commitment to providing the North Miami community with the resources to be part of Miami’s thriving technology ecosystem.

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“It’s more appropriate to have this at Miami Dade College as a community college because we represent the community,” he said. “This is an area that needs spark, opportunity, and integration of upcoming jobs.”

Delgado is practicing the use of the Intelligence Center’s virtual reality headsets that will be used in class lectures. In a display of the technology center’s readiness, a university professor set up a “class” in which participants joined Delgado and used virtual reality headsets to participate in a group discussion in a virtual space. Once in the 3D environment, their avatar interacted with the professor.

The Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County, City of Miami, and other donors have a $16 million co-investment in MDCTech to create college courses that will be implemented at the center, as well as scholarships for students in emerging technologies, professional development for faculty and activities to support the participation of Society with Artificial Intelligence.

One room in the center is dedicated to design thinking and robotics. Giorgio Corrado, an assistant laboratory director, has been with robotics in college for three years and used the Python programming language to program Pepper, a white robot that can perform basic tactical tasks.

Teaching students about this technology will prepare them for future innovation, said Kinga Barot, IBM’s AI technology strategist on the faculty’s AI advisory committee. It does not expect artificial intelligence to replace human workers. Instead, she sees that she has a way to improve their work.

“We all use it everywhere,” she said. “We should not be afraid to learn about it. AI can support humans, not replace us.”

The Artificial Intelligence Center on the North Miami campus is the first of two centers planned for the college. The second will be built on the Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.

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Michael Butler writes about the residential and commercial real estate industry and trends in the local housing market. Just like Miami’s diverse residents, Butler, a Temple University graduate, has local roots and a Panamanian heritage.

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