Dawson College invests $1M into new AI curriculum


Dawson College is making a $1 million investment over the next three years in artificial intelligence to help students capitalize on the city’s booming AI sector.

“The idea is, what role can a college play in this emerging, burgeoning technology?” said Joel Trudeau of Dawson College AI.

This is the first CEGEP to make this kind of investment of resources and time.

"Our current and future students are the ones who will be facing these challenges and opportunities when they enter university or the work force. We are committed to offering new, updated and upgraded classes and learning opportunities to help prepare our students adequately," said Richard Filion, Dawson’s director, in a news release.

The investment was announced Tuesday during a conference at Dawson that brought together 600 educators from across Quebec for sessions on active learning and technological innovation in education.

“I think it's a sign that the Montreal AI ecosystem is booming and that there's just a ton of talent and a ton of opportunity and it's being recognized across the board,” said Philip Mitsopoulos, head of partnerships at Stradigi AI.

This initiative isn't just about preparing students for the future job market, but using artificial intelligence to improve overall education, explained McGill computer science professor Doina Precup, who has worked in AI for more than 25 years.

“I think the tech is better now and as a side effect of that, we have an opportunity to enhance the educational experience – especially in schools that may not have as much resources as others. Perhaps AI can be a cheap tool to enhance the experience of students,” said Precup.

Students will encounter AI in a variety of subjects, but the college also wants to ensure that the ethics of the powerful technology is taught.

Musician David Usher was an early adopter of AI, and founded Reimagine AI, a company that is creating interactive installations.

It's important to remember there are real-life experiences AI will never be able to replace, said Usher, and it's important to learn how to occupy both worlds.

“AI is going to be everywhere and it already is seeping in, but you don't see it. But soon it's going to be everywhere and visual as well. I think it's going to be everywhere and people are going to have to learn the language and how to talk about it,” he said.

The new curriculum at Dawson College begins this fall.