Minister Launches Two New Postgraduate Programmes in Artificial Intelligence at NUI Galway

Pictured at the launch of two new Masters in Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence programmes in NUI Galway are l-r: Caroline Cawley, CEO, ITAG, Paul Healy, CEO, Skillnet, Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor T.D., Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar and Deputy President, NUI Galway and Professor Michael Madden, School of Computer Science, NUI Galway. Photo: Aengus McMahon
May 21 2019 Posted: 13:56 IST

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

 The Minister of State with responsibility for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. launched on (Monday, 20 May) two new Masters programmes in Artificial Intelligence at NUI Galway. One of the programmes is to be delivered completely online and targets employees of Irish industry who may need to significantly deepen their computing skills through a specialisation in Artificial Intelligence (AI), while the other is classroom-based.

The online MSc in Artificial Intelligence is a new initiative in online learning by the School of Computer Science, and is   co-funded by Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet. It is an agile response to new industry needs in Ireland for the AI skills in the workforce, and its part-time online format is structured to the needs of industry based learners, supporting lifelong learning and enabling people to learn where they live.

Over 60 people attended the event including representatives from 20 companies, almost all 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; cybersecurity, and many others.

The two-year part-time online Masters in Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence has been developed in cooperation with Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet based on the needs of Irish industry. Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet will manage company engagement with the part-time online programme and will co-fund employee student fees. The Programme Director for the online course is Dr Conor Hayes.

The one-year full-time Masters in Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence will be a classroom-based programme, for full-time students, and is primarily aimed at recent graduates of computer science and related degrees, including international students. There are opportunities for industry collaborators to propose topics for the capstone AI projects that students will complete. The Programme Director for this course is Dr Michael Schukat.

Both programmes will equip the students with state-of-the-art knowledge and practical skills in Artificial Intelligence that will address a skills deficit that is acutely felt by Irish industry today.

September 2019 will see the first intake of students into the new part-time online and full-time Masters programmes, which complement the School of Computer Science’s existing and highly sought after Masters in Computer Science – Data Analytics, which is very popular among students and employers for its technical depth and relevance to industry and research careers.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O'Connor said: 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. 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.”

Professor Michael Madden, Chair of Computer Science at NUI Galway, says: “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, initial 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.

Paul Healy, CEO of Skillnet Ireland, commented: “Ireland is one of the tech capitals of the world. 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, adds: “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. 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.”

For further information about the two new Masters programmes, visit:


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