This president has leveraged her city’s tech boom to embrace an AI-centric future

Last week, three faculty members from the Miami Dade College School of Business were awarded grants for using artificial intelligence to identify sustainable models for water solutions and supply chain management. 

Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega has quietly culled millions of dollars in investments from city stakeholders, envisioning something big on the horizon. Now, as artificial intelligence begins to revolutionize the workforce and as Miami becomes the fastest-growing tech hub for venture capital investments post-pandemic, Pumariega’s school is well poised for a new era of student career success and faculty innovation.

“We know that the future of the workforce is ever-changing, especially now. It’s an exciting time,” says Pamela Fuertes, Dean of the Miguel B. Fernandez Family School of Global Business of Miami Dade College. “We have the programming, the academic curriculum and the access and opportunities.”

The school has received $15 million from various city authorities thanks to Pumariega’s vision to “elevate educational offerings to raise Miami’s talent base” in light of the migration of Silicon Valley investment, says Christina Crespi, executive director of Miami Downtown Development Authority, which donated $1 million. “She quickly approached us about assisting and we thought it was a great moment to put a stake in the ground for the future talent of Miami to be part of this sophisticated technology.”

Miami Dade College is now built with two AI centers, a promising faculty grant program and a slew of cutting-edge certifications and stackable credentials to meet the new demands of a swelling tech industry.

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President’s Innovation Fund

Established last year, the President’s Innovation Fund incentivizes faculty to develop new learning models that leverage AI to improve student learning. The grant program will distribute 10 awards per grant cycle for up to $10,000.

Last week, three faculty members from the School of business were awarded grants for using artificial intelligence to identify sustainable models for water solutions and supply chain management.

“President Pumariega spoke to us and said, ‘Think big.’ This is a special opportunity for students in the classroom and around campus, and how we can help them look to the future,” says Fuertes.

Students get a competitive leg up

Miami Dade College has partnered with PRAI, an AI public relations firm that aims to tool Miami’s students with the latest PR and digital marketing innovation. PRAI will provide students with a certification course program that will virtually upend the industry.

PRAI CEO Valentin Saitarli can’t stress enough the importance of having viable workforce skills upon graduating.

“There are at least 400 schools that offer a public relations major. These students graduate with zero software skills. Now think about this: You have a student who graduated from Miami Dade College in digital marketing and he’s a certified PRAI manager versus a student who spent $60,000 in tuition from Washington University in St. Louis, for example, and has zero software access, connections to reporters, or real-time experience,” says Saitarli. “These students will lack advancement opportunities. We believe this program with Miami Dade College will transform the job market significantly and give students a lot of advantages.”

AI centers

Miami Dade College now has two artificial intelligence centers, the most recent one being built in April in the heart of downtown Miami. From high schoolers and current students to alumni and the broader Miami community, these centers host various programs and opportunities to become familiar with and eventually excel with AI.

Partnering with the Mark Cuban Foundation, Miami Dade College will host underserved high school students to attend an expenses-paid AI boot camp. They will have access to corporate mentor instructors to acclimate the next generation to what AI is and the ethics behind AI systems.

Stackable credential programs are currently being developed in AI awareness and applied AI, which can effectively earn current students—many of whom are also working professionals—a certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree at their own pace.

For the broader community, IBM-partnered continuing education programs in data science, machine learning and AI enterprise solutions are offered.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and Florida Gator alumnus. A graduate in journalism and communications, his beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene, and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador, and Brazil.

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