The first step towards a new competence cluster

Artificial intelligence has been democratized and the need for it has exploded. So has the shortage of competent AI professionals in companies - those who can apply, innovate and solve problems with artificial intelligence. The AI education started this autumn at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) aims at educating professionals to meet this particular need.

15.12.2020 | By: Petra O'Rourke | Photo: Petra O'Rourke, Pexels

Kuvituskuva, tekoäly.

– Education will develop students to coders with skills to apply the latest tools in AI for different purposes and a genuine desire and motivation to try something new and make it their own, tell Research Director Petteri Pulkkinen and Senior Adviser Jussi Bergman, who also were designing this education.

The new AI education is based on strong programming competence, on which AI competence is built. It is paramount to be able to use and apply existing tools and methods. The education consists of several major entities such as data analytics, big data, cloud services, natural language processing, modern language models and machine learning. The students get to know also the latest trends that have already become established, e.g. utilizing generative networks.


AI-koulutusohjelman opiskelijoiden ensimmäinen oppintunti/ The first lesson for AI students

The students of international AI degree programme are highly motivated and active in their studies. Senior Adviser Jussi Bergman tells more about the content of the education in the first meeting in autumn 2020.

The skill to learn becomes a routine

– The most important factor is learning to observe the possibilities for using AI in any field. The goal is for the students to be able to solve problems and innovate new business ideas when their knowledge base increases, Bergman lists his expectations, and continues: - It is important for the students to understand what kind of learners they are, and learn to master new technology themselves with the help of existing information, in their own way.

Flipped Learning method is already in use in studies, which means that students need to find out things themselves. The most important things are taught but the responsibility of deeper application is left to the students.

– Without being experts in the field, the kind of workers are looked for who have the skills of finding out about new things by watching videos connected to the topic, reading texts and being able to tackle issues by practicing. In the world of AI, data analytics and programming this happens daily, and it is a part of everyday routines, Bergman reminds.


Support to innovators

Many students already have business ideas related to applying AI, and they understand how AI can be connected to other competences. The students´ innovative and entrepreneurship-oriented approach is supported by SAMK´s own investment fund that finances early stage innovations and boosts and propels fresh innovations further.

Supporting entrepreneurial activities and employment - as well as incorporating local companies -  is aimed to facilitate the integration and rooting of the students in the area after the graduation, which is of paramount importance to regional development.

– Creating the right circumstances for the so-called competence cluster is the key. As educators, we are a part of a bigger palette, where also local companies and enterprises outside the region are needed.  We need to show that establishing business activities or an office in the region of Satakunta, outside the metropolitan area, would make sense, Pulkkinen clarifies.


Business cooperation gives practicality to studies

Companies have been extremely interested in this new international AI education offered by SAMK. The companies are hoping that the new degree programme will provide at least a partial solution to their recruitment problem in the AI field. Companies have been willing to cooperate closely by offering their own competence to tuition in the form of company projects. This enables a mutually motivating method of cooperation as enterprises bring their real-time and down-to-earth projects to education and students get a direct connection to potential future employers.

At the same time, the students get a very realistic idea of what it is actually like to work on AI and data analytics and what it requires.

– This is a challenging degree programme for students, and especially in the beginning it requires a lot of motivation and time. The students do not need to be mathematical geniuses – instead, stamina, interest and persistent efforts are needed and only the hard-working will survive.   Hard work pays off in the end as practical competence, which can be appreciated, Bergman and Pulkkinen confirm.


Also read this related article: International innovators on the way to the top



For more information about the international AI studies:

Petteri Pulkkinen, Research Director
tel. 044 710 3296

Jussi Bergman, Senior Adviser (AI)
tel. 045 1211 477

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