State’s Only AI Program to come to USD
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State’s Only AI Program to come to USD

USD will now be the first university in South Dakota to offer a certificate and specialization in artificial intelligence (AI). The new program will allow undergraduate and graduate students of all majors to get the certificate or specialization.

KC Santosh, USD’s Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Computer Science Program, said AI is more important than ever as healthcare systems around the world are using it to combat COVID-19. Since the COVID-19 outbreak Santosh has written eight research articles and edited two books on how AI is being used to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“AI is all about prediction… prediction by analyzing data,” Santosh said. “We can now use AI and the data it collects to help us predict where COVID outbreaks are likely to be and what chemistry can do to create a solution for the virus.”

Santosh said he believes the program can be beneficial for not just computer science majors but for many other majors offered at USD. Today, fields like computational chemistry, physics, business, finance and health sciences are all using AI related to tools to make their work more efficient, Santosh said.

“AI happens literally everywhere,” Santosh said. “From our health care systems, to the stock market, to government and business, AI is needed to analyze big data.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are projected to be 546,200 jobs added in the computer science and AI related fields from 2018 to 2028.

AI is a way for everyone, no matter the field, to gather and analyze large amounts of data, Santosh said. He said he believes any business or organization that wants to be part of the future will have to find a way to incorporate it into their system.

“You basically have to understand high-performance computer machines. You won’t get this from the business school’s business analytics class. You have to get this from computer science,” Santosh said. “The program is to help you understand the fundamentals of data mining, which we call data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer reasoning.”

The computer science department holds many AI driven tools and high-performance computing power that will be used in the AI program, Santosh said. USD’s computer science program is also accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc. 

Zachary Tschetter, an instructor for the computer science department, said the program will be a step in the right direction to make USD’s computer science department a better school.

“I think the program will be a great addition,” Tschetter said. “The future of tech is no doubt heading towards data analyzation and big data if it is not already there and AI is the best thing to do that.”

Santosh said he believes the program will be very successful and will help make South Dakota and the United States the leaders in computer science.

“Our current (computer science) students are excited about this, and I’m sure more than 30% of our current students will go for AI specialization in fall of 2021,” Santosh said.