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Houston Community College Breaks New Ground with AI and Robotics Bachelor’s Degrees

In a pioneering move, Houston Community College (HCC) has become the first community college system in Texas to offer both associate and bachelor’s degrees in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, according to Samir Saber, the Dean of the Digital & Information Technology Center of Excellence. This groundbreaking initiative was launched in late 2023, marking a significant advancement in the educational landscape.

Notably, HCC stands as only the second community college institution in the entire nation to provide such a comprehensive program. The institution’s strategic move closely followed the footsteps of Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Arizona, which introduced a similar program in October.

HCC is at the forefront of educational innovation, having been the first in Texas to unveil its bachelor’s degree in applied technology focusing on artificial intelligence and robotics. Saber highlighted the success of community colleges in states like California, Florida, and Washington, where bachelor’s degree programs have proven effective in serving underserved communities and contributing positively to society’s financial landscape.

This latest development builds upon HCC’s previous achievements, including the launch of Texas’s inaugural Associate of Applied Science degree in artificial intelligence in 2020.

Key Industry Partnerships

Saber outlined the pivotal role played by several industry-leading companies that have partnered with HCC for this program. Some of the key collaborators include:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS): Providing materials from Machine Learning University, academic resources, equipment, and advisory support. AWS has also been a key supporter of HCC’s annual AI conference.
  • Intel: Offering academic resources and advisory support, Intel has highlighted student successes, with HCC winning Intel’s first Global AI Impact competition in 2022.
  • NVIDIA: Supporting HCC with equipment and academic resources.
  • Apple: Funding equipment, faculty, staff, and instructional support through its Community Education Initiative and Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.
  • Microsoft: Offering support through an advisory board, guest speakers, faculty support, and scholarships.
  • Google: Providing advisory support and academic resources.

Program Locations and Facilities

HCC has strategically situated AI and robotics programs on the west side of Houston across multiple campuses:

  • Robotics Program: The primary location is the HCC West Loop Campus.
  • Additional Robotics Courses: Offered at the Stafford and Katy campuses.
  • AI Program: Features an AI laboratory at the West Loop campus.
  • Additional AI Lab: Located at the Stafford campus.
  • Expansion Plans: Two new labs are under construction at Coleman College in the Texas Medical Center.

Enrollment and Momentum

Saber expressed enthusiasm about the growing momentum of the programs, revealing current enrollment figures:

  • Recent Graduates: 3.
  • Students Transitioning: 6 transitioning from the associate program to the bachelor’s degree.
  • Associate Program Enrollees: 254 students.

HCC’s initiative reflects a commitment to providing cutting-edge education in emerging fields, fostering industry partnerships, and empowering students with opportunities in the dynamic realms of AI and robotics.