Dr. Randy Hoover: How do you feel about the future of AI at Mines?

Artificial Intelligence (AI), and its “little brother” Machine Learning (ML) have become commonplace throughout nearly every sector of our day to day lives. As such, AI and ML are ubiquitous throughout the entire Mines campus and continue to grow by leaps and bounds. What started in computer science and computational statistics, has rapidly cut across disciplinary boundaries within science and engineering at Mines. A subset of specific examples where AI and ML continue to play a central role include bioinformatics research investigating novel microbial communities for new bioproducts, data-driven solutions to enhancing mining safety and security, understanding underground aquifers and watersheds, and helping mitigate illicit networks, from counterfeit crimes to trafficking in persons.

To aid in this rapid growth, several new degree programs and specializations have been established over the last two years. The newly formed Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) has established an undergraduate computer science specialization in artificial intelligence and machine learning. EECS has always had a focus in AI & ML within their M.S. in computer science and engineering program. To complete the sequence, a new PhD program in data science and engineering was approved in August of 2022. The new PhD program is a joint program between the Departments of EECS, Mathematics, and Industrial Engineering, however, we see the program supporting many of the different AI & ML research areas across the Mines campus. In addition to new programs within EECS, the Department of Mathematics recently established a data science specialization to support some of the mathematical underpinnings of AI & ML development. Finally, to support the ongoing interests in AI & ML at the undergraduate level, an undergraduate student data science team was established (aptly named the Data Miners), and compete at annual data science competitions (winning in one category or another over the last several years).

Randy C HooverDr. Randy C. Hoover is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He is the director of the Mines Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems Lab and the program coordinator for the university’s PhD in Data Science and Engineering. Dr Hoover also serves as the co-advisor to the Data Miners Undergraduate Data Science Team.