Learn AI in Alaska: A Guide to Artificial Intelligence Degree Programs & Certificate-Level Training Courses Online & in Alaska

Written by Rebecca Turley

alaska programmers talking ai in their office

Artificial intelligence may still be an emerging field, but its ability to make monumental strides across countless scientific fields is nothing short of amazing. By processing and analyzing enormous amounts of data in record time and with expert precision, AI has proven to be a gamechanger. In Alaska, this holds particularly true.

Truth is, thanks to artificial intelligence, Alaska has proven to be a trailblazer in the study of climate change. Today, AI is helping produce climate models that are providing new and unique insights into how we track permafrost degradation in the Arctic.

Scientists have long tracked changes in permafrost to better understand how climate change is affecting the Arctic. But it’s been an arduous endeavor, often taking decades to gather the information needed to better understand the causes of permafrost and make important decisions to mitigate it.

Working with a $5 million grant from Google, The Massachusetts-based Woodwell Climate Research Center created a system that combines satellite data with AI to identify changes to the permafrost as they occur. Led by an Alaska-based climate scientist and supported by a number of academic and scientific partners, including the University of Alaska and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, this project uses AI to track polygon ice wedges of the Arctic tundra.

To date, about one billion of these ice wedges have been tracked by scientists, but the data recovered far exceeds what could be analyzed by human brains. AI, however, is able to collect, analyze, and monitor the data in record time, providing Alaska scientists with invaluable information on the shapes of polygon ice melts, which reveal differences in ice melt patterns.

And that’s just the tip of the proverbial Alaskan iceberg… Some of the other AI-powered initiatives taking place in Alaska include:

Computer and data scientists, software engineers, and other professionals in the business and scientific communities with the right blend of formal AI education and practical knowledge are well-compensated and highly sought-after. Whether you’re interested in gaining the skills necessary to enter the field, or you have plans to specialize your computer science or software engineering skills on AI and machine learning, you’ll need the formal education that’ll make you an asset in this emerging domain.

How Alaska Airlines and Airspace Intelligence Joined Forces to Make Commercial Aviation Safer, More Sustainable, and More Efficient Than Ever Before

air traffic controllers in the towerAlaska Airlines is taking artificial intelligence to new heights – and making history in the process.

In 2021, Alaska Airlines signed a partnership with Airspace Intelligence, a Silicon Valley-based software aerospace company, to use their AI platform, Flyways AI™. The first of its kind, Flyways AI™ is a 4D mapping, predictive, and recommendation platform for commercial air operations that uses AI and machine learning to optimize flight routes and help make air traffic more reliable, predictable, and efficient.

Alaska Airlines is the first airline in the world to adopt this route planning and optimization technology.

The Flyways AI™ platform features AI-powered flight monitoring and routing technology to help make vital decisions more swiftly than ever before. Alaska Airlines’ employees will use the power of machine-learning models of the National Airspace System to plan more efficient routes by considering future scenarios.

The system autonomously amasses massive amounts of data associated with air turbulence, air traffic volume, air traffic control compliance, safety, aircraft performance, and more. It analyzes the data with great precision and speed and makes predictions based on the compiled information.

Flyways AI™ allows Alaska Airlines (and future airlines that adopt the technology) to deliver the safest, most efficient flight routes, which will save time, reduce carbon emissions, and create a better flying experience for customers.

In the first six months of using Flyways AI™, Alaska Airlines was able to save 480,000 gallons of fuel and eliminate 4,600 tons of carbons emissions.

AI Jobs in Alaska

From research to discovery, from private industry to national nonprofits to federal, state, and local agencies, job opportunities in AI abound in Alaska.

Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Juneau and Anchorage

For example, the health data scientists at Juneau’s Guidehouse, a worldwide consultancy firm, work with clients to implement data analytics and data science for the defense & security, energy & sustainability, financial services, and health sectors. Health data scientists here utilize data visualization, predictive analytics, machine learning, AI, and robotic process automation to implement data-driven decision-making, reduce cost, and improve operational effectiveness.

Meta’s (Facebook) corporate office in Juneau is home to a host of AI experts, including AI research scientists, research engineers, software engineers, and machine learning engineers who solve problems and find solutions related to payment fraud, click-through prediction rate, click-fraud detection, spam detection, and more.

And in Anchorage, IT specialists for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Chief Data Office work to find opportunities and locate threats and gaps related to managing FAA information as a strategic asset. These professionals use tools and strategies like AI, machine learning, data pipelining, and business intelligence visualizations.

AI Companies in Anchorage and Fairbanks

Alaska companies are using AI to change the shape and scope of their technologies and the products and services they provide. They’re redesigning and reimagining how we learn, how our information is disseminated, and how our society functions. Some of the leading IT companies in Alaska where innovations in AI are likely to emerge include:

Advancements in AI can also be found in Alaska’s leading colleges and universities, where academic and industry experts are developing the next generation of computer science and engineering programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning. They’re also where groundbreaking research in the emerging field of AI takes place. For example, the University of Alaska is home to the Alaska Data Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (ADSAIL), which serves as a hub of research in AI, machine learning, and data science for all UA campuses. This interdisciplinary center focuses on creating and applying AI tools for use in academic research and private industry.

AI Salary in Alaska

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals working in artificial intelligence, who fall under the BLS category of computer information and research scientists, earned a median salary of $136,620 as of May 2022. Those with little to no experience earned about $99,410 during this time, while seasoned professionals, and those who likely hold graduate degrees in the field, earned about $232,010.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Master’s Degree and Certificate Courses in Alaska and Online

Though there aren’t any Alaska colleges and universities currently offering undergraduate or graduate degrees in artificial intelligence, as the field continues to grow, many schools across the country are now in the process of developing new degrees and certificate programs to answer the demand.

Online programs have begun to garner significant attention in this field, due to the flexibility and convenience they offer. In fact, many schools have now begun offering online bachelor’s and master’s degrees and graduate certificate programs in artificial intelligence, delivering students high-quality degrees that they can earn from the comfort of their home and on their own schedule.

Bachelor’s degrees in artificial intelligence offer a broad foundation in the computational and human sciences through courses in programming, computer science, mathematics, and statistics. These programs also provide students with knowledge in core AI concepts and techniques through courses in data mining, information retrieval, information security, and mathematical modeling.

Master’s degrees in artificial intelligence are often designed in a number of ways that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of this emerging field:

Many master’s degrees and graduate certificates in the field also offer students the option of specializing their graduate programs in a specific area of AI. For example, engineering degrees often come with options to specialize in biomedical engineering, material science and engineering, mechanical engineering, data engineering, chemical engineering, or electrical and computer engineering.

Similarly, computer science master’s degrees and certificate programs often offer specialization options in areas like data science, bioinformatics, robotics, and cybersecurity. Some computer science programs, even those that don’t offer a concentration or focus in AI, do offer research opportunities in the field.

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for computer information and research scientists. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, CareerOneStop. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed October 2023.