Arizona College, Intel Forge AI Incubator Lab

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) in Arizona, Dell Technologies, and Intel have teamed up to create an artificial intelligence (AI) incubator lab, the company announced, with the aim of bringing students broad experience in fields that take advantage of the burgeoning use of AI technology.

The incubator lab is a part of Intel’s AI for Workforce program that the company announced in 2020. MCCCD was the first district to enroll students in the program after its launch, and the district will now become the site of the new AI incubator lab.

The lab will open at Chandler Gilbert Community College, and includes $60,000 of Intel tools, such as workstations and AI software tools.

“This lab is critical to providing the necessary tools for their education, and we are appreciative of Intel, Dell Technologies, and the State of Arizona for the designated space so our faculty and students can thrive,” MCCCD Chancellor Steven Gonzales said.

Intel says the incubator lab, along with the associate’s degree it supports from MCCCD, are both a first of their kind in the U.S.

“Within the last two years, we have been able to see our students gain new AI skills, and we are proud to have our first graduating class from the AI program this spring,” Gonzales said.

The incubator lab is now open to the 200 Chandler Gilbert Community College students already enrolled in the AI for Workforce program. The lab will support Introduction to Machine Learning, AI for Computer Vision, and Natural Language Processing and AI for Business courses, among others.

“We are committed to the re-skilling of the American workforce and to advancing diversity and inclusion to ensure that the next generation of technologists are prepared and provided opportunities for AI education,” Michelle Johnston Holthaus, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the firm’s Client Computing Group, said in the release.

Intel and Dell Technologies are also committed to a rapid expansion of the program. As of December 2021, 31 schools were involved in the AI for Workforce program across 18 states. Intel has a stated goal of being in all 50 states by 2023.

The company said it is focusing on upskilling the nation’s workforce to “advance diversity and inclusion” and help “democratize emerging technologies like AI.”

Intel said the existing AI program and new incubator lab will give students hands-on experience and also make AI more accessible to novices. In the program, students will also gain and develop skills like “data collection, AI model training, coding and exploring the societal impact of AI technology.”

To explore that final skill, Dell Technologies and Intel said the course will also have students create an AI project that has a social impact. That project will be developed by students with the help of teachers and other mentors.

The AI incubator lab also plays into Intel’s larger Responsible, Inclusive, Sustainable, and Enabling (RISE) goals for 2030. As part of that initiative, the company is looking to expand “digital readiness” worldwide and reach 30 million people, in 30,000 institutions, across 30 counties by 2030.