Student and machine learning merge through new courses at RRC

August 8, 2018

Learning and Red River College have always gone hand in hand. The difference in today’s environment is that students and machines are often learning at the same time.

Case in point: Red River College will launch two new courses this fall that both involve artificial intelligence — Python Essentials (Oct. 16 to Dec. 18, 2018) and Machine Learning with Python (Jan. 8 to March 19, 2019). According to Haider Al-Saidi, chair of RRC’s Applied Computer Education (ACE) department, the additions are in response to massive industry demand and a wide range of business applications.

“Machine learning has become an integral part of countless industries,” says Al-Saidi. “From game development to marketing, from air traffic control to self-driving cars and everything in between, we’re asking machines to analyze massive data and to make decisions based on that information. Understanding how those systems work is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.”

The new Python Essentials course will run as a prerequisite for Machine Learning with Python, with both courses running 40 hours in duration.

In Python Essentials, students will learn the fundamentals of the Python scripting language, with both individual and group projects designed to provide the building blocks they need to build their skills within the system and to understand its real-world applications.

“Python is incredibly user-friendly and is quickly becoming the language of choice for the industry,” says Al-Saidi. “Plus, as an open-source platform that’s c-optimized for speed, Python’s accessibility and performance have made it one of the most common coding languages in a very short amount of time.”

After completing Python Essentials, students can move on to Machine Learning with Python in the new year, where they will learn the primary concepts of machine learning using Python as their programming tool. Here they will become familiar with manipulating and reshaping datasets so they can be effectively used by computers in predicting outcomes.

Although we may not always realize it, Al-Saidi says these kinds of real-time calculations are happening all around us each and every day. And the applications will only grow from here.

“It’s impossible to understate how important the field of machine learning is in today’s business environment and how far the industry will go,” he says. “Transportation, health care, entertainment, financial services, government… the list of industries where machine learning continues to grow goes on and on. At ACE, our job is to ensure our students are well prepared for both today’s and tomorrow’s technology, and these new courses will go a long way to achieving that.”