NUI Galway launches two new postgraduate programmes in artificial intelligence

University’s School of Computer Science becomes a centre of excellence in making Ireland an AI island

Pictured at the launch of two new master's programmes in computer science - artificial intelligence in NUI Galway, from left: Caroline Cawley, CEO ITAG; Paul Healy, CEO Skillnet; Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor; and Professor Michael Madden, School of Computer Science, NUI Galway. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

Pictured at the launch of two new master's programmes in computer science - artificial intelligence in NUI Galway, from left: Caroline Cawley, CEO ITAG; Paul Healy, CEO Skillnet; Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor; and Professor Michael Madden, School of Computer Science, NUI Galway. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, visited NUI Galway this week to launch two new master's programmes in computer science - artificial intelligence.

More than 60 people attended the event including representatives from 20 companies, several of which are based in the west region and are engaged in new product development using AI technologies, with applications including microprocessor design, semi-autonomous vehicles, face recognition, image analysis, customer engagement, financial analytics, and cybersecurity.

Both programmes will commence in September 2019, with the first intake of students into the two new part-time and full-time master's programmes complementing the School of Computer Science’s existing and very popular master's in computer science – data analytics, which is well renowned for its teaching and research expertise in this area.

The one-year full-time master's in computer science - artificial intelligence will be primarily a classroom-based programme, for full-time students, and is aimed at recent graduates including international students. This innovative master's in artificial intelligence will equip the students with state-of-the-art knowledge and practical skills that are increasingly sought after in industry today. The programme director of this course is Dr Michael Schukat.

The second course, a two-year part-time master's in computer science - artificial intelligence will be delivered online, and is aimed at people currently working in industry in Ireland who wish to significantly deepen their computing skills through a specialisation in artificial intelligence. The programme director of this course is Dr Conor Hayes.

"The Government is committed to making Ireland an AI island and will continue to support the teaching of these innovative programmes within higher education while also supporting industry needs by creating exciting new opportunities for innovation across all sectors," Minister Mitchell O'Connor said at the launch. "There are currently around 100,000 tech professionals working in Ireland with another 60,000 projected job openings over the next four years. These two innovative master’s programmes at NUI Galway will help to ensure graduates have the highest skills needed to meet this demand and to make Galway and the west of Ireland a leader in artificial intelligence.”

Michael Madden, professor of computer science, head of machine learning and data mining at NUI Galway, added: “With this launch today, we are not just creating two new degree programmes, we are working to create a new capability in the west of Ireland and a new ecosystem of advanced AI companies, with their human capital emerging from our university’s research and teaching activities, and supported by organisations such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA, and the IT Association Galway, all of whom are represented here today. Both programmes have been designed to support the vision of the Government, as expressed by IDA Ireland, to build Ireland’s international profile as an ‘AI island’.”

While artificial intelligence might seem like a new area, research in AI dates back 50 years. In recent years a confluence of breakthroughs in hardware capability and insights into algorithm design have made the early promise of intelligent machines a reality. AI is one of the fastest growing areas of ICT industry and research. It has the potential to positively transform every aspect of all our lives, from smart cities and autonomous vehicles, through to improved healthcare services and low-carbon economies.

Skillnet Ireland’s learning network, Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet, has developed and will manage the two-year part-time online master’s in artificial intelligence programme.

“Ireland is one of the tech capitals of the world," said Paul Healy, CEO of Skillnet. "We are home to a growing array of dynamic indigenous Irish tech companies and the location of EMEA headquarters for many of the world’s leading tech firms. There is a growing need for greater numbers of highly qualified and competent engineers to work in these organisations. This industry-led online programme, which is supported by Skillnet Ireland and the students’ employer, will help ensure that we are producing engineers here in Ireland with the skills needed to become global leaders in AI technologies.”

Professor Madden, added: “Within NUI Galway, we have a 20-year track record of research and teaching in machine learning and AI, in the Data Science Institute and right across the School of Computer Science. Our academics are world-recognised experts in AI machine learning topics. In the two new master’s programmes, students will learn about all of the latest advances in these areas, benefiting from research-led teaching. All students will be required to study ethics in AI, because we recognise the important ethical issues that can arise in modern AI applications. And all students will put their knowledge into practice by engaging in substantial capstone projects, conducting research and building prototype systems that use leading-edge AI technologies. While the content of these programmes has been informed by our academics’ deep research expertise in AI, their design has also been driven by the input of our industry partners and particularly ICT Ireland Skillnet.”

Intake from companies for the part-time online programme will be managed through Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet and the students entering will have their fees paid by their company, with part-funding from Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet.

The full-time class-based programme is developed and funded by NUI Galway’s School of Computer Science. For more information about the one-year full-time course contact Michael Schukat at [email protected]uigalway.ie, and for more information on the two-year part-time course contact Conor Hayes at [email protected]

For further information about the two new master's programmes, visit www.nuigalway.ie/artificial-intelligence

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