WCTC announces new applied AI center to focus on emerging technology, strengthen business and industry
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024) – In an effort to strengthen the workforce and economy, and continue to position itself as a leader in artificial intelligence (AI), Waukesha County Technical College is excited to announce the creation of an AI innovation center – the WCTC Applied AI Lab: Wisconsin Center for AI Development and Implementation – slated to open later this year.
WCTC is expanding its footprint in AI just months after the launch of short-term AI certificates, which began in fall 2023, followed by approval from the state in November to offer an AI associate degree program: AI Data Specialist. The program will welcome students beginning in fall 2024, and it is the first two-year AI degree to be offered in Wisconsin.
“We are the experts in AI, as it relates to business and industry,” said WCTC President Rich Barnhouse, Ph.D. “There are a few four-year and research institutions that are doing work with artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning, but it’s at such an abstract level. Where we really lead is putting the tire tread on AI and allowing it to hit the road. We’re not just teaching in labs and lecture halls; we’re going to be educating the entire workforce and creating new businesses and industries.”
Creating a hub for AI development
The main purpose of the WCTC Applied AI Lab is to create a hub for the development of AI, said Laura Krohn, executive director for the College’s Corporate Training Center (CTC). Additionally, it will support entrepreneurs in the creation of new AI businesses, ultimately leading to entirely new AI industries.
“We’re really looking at small and mid-sized businesses and how we can help them implement AI,” she said. “Our goal is to help businesses stay in business and grow, which will help support the economic engine in the region.”
The WCTC Applied AI Lab will be housed in Building Q, on the main Pewaukee campus, in a fully renovated space on the building’s first floor -- with plans for a large future expansion. It will be remodeled to include state-of-the-art offices, conference rooms, huddle spaces, open workstations, collaboration and incubation space, and a dedicated entrance, Krohn said.
Ahead of the AI center’s opening, WCTC will begin to offer daylong AI seminars, which are intended to provide business and industry professionals with a foundational understanding of AI, discover how it can be used at their companies and gain insight on how to apply it, Krohn said. The first seminar – AI and the 21st Century Worker -- is set for Thursday, March 21, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Learn more.
WCTC’s vision for AI in the region and beyond is broad, Barnhouse said, and the College will continue to push the envelope on artificial intelligence and lead indefinitely.
“It’s about shaping and revolutionizing the economic landscape for Southeastern Wisconsin and to set a model for the United States,” he said.
For more information about AI at WCTC, visit www.wctc.edu/ai.
Waukesha County Technical College, the leader in workforce development, prepares learners for success within the region and global economy. The College offers more than 170 areas of study including associate degree, technical diploma, apprenticeship and short-term certificate programs. Customized training for employers is also available. To learn more, visit www.wctc.edu