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

Written by Rebecca Turley

ai team working on prototypes in hawaii facility

Artificial intelligence has the power to transform nearly everything it intersects with, and its benefits can be felt across all areas of business and industry. But adding more torque to the wheels of industry is not all this emerging technology is being lauded for. In Hawaii, AI is taking center stage in the state’s efforts to protect its delicate ecosystem.

Mālama ka ‘aina – it’s a Hawaiian phrase that means to care for and protect the land. Of course, this also includes its ocean waters, streams, coastal areas, forests, aquatic life, wildlife, and other natural areas. The islands that make up this pristine archipelago in a remote area of the Northern Pacific Ocean are treasured, and everyone from state agencies to nonprofit organizations to university researchers are quickly discovering the many ways in which AI can be used to preserve and protect Hawaii’s land, waters, and natural resources – to mālama ka ‘aina.

Invasive species, both flora and fauna, are threatening Hawaii’s biodiversity. But at The Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi Preserve, a nearly 9,000-acre forest tucked into the East Maui mountains, science specialists are fighting the intrusion of a noxious weed called Himalayan ginger – and they’re using AI to do it. The spread of this plant, which was introduced as an ornamental in the 1950s, prevents the growth of plants like moss and lichens that keep the understory healthy, cool, and humid. Its presence also prevents rainwater from soaking into the ground, which leads to water runoff and erosion.

The Nature Conservancy is using machine learning and AI to find and track Himalayan ginger before it can become established. By using AI, scientists are able to speed up the analysis of large amounts of data. Drones, helicopters, and satellites capture the images, and then AI is able to take all the images and analyze the ginger’s growth patterns. The use of AI is a far cry from the last 30 years when scientists manually tracked its growth, navigating difficult terrain in search of clusters of ginger. Now scientists are able to find these clusters in record time and then send teams to extract them.

AI is also being used by a team of scientists, conservationists, and educators of the Ocean Exploration Trust’s (OET) expanded exploration program. The program, known as From Shore to the Abyss, studies shark and ray diversity around Maui and the big island of Hawaii.

First, they collect water samples for environmental DNA analysis and deploy baited remote underwater video systems. They then use an AI recognition tool to analyze the footage, which allows them to count the shark species in different habitats and document behaviors among species. The purpose of the program is to examine if the January 2022 Hawaii House Bill 553, which prohibited the capture, entanglement, and killing of sharks in state waters, was effective.

The accuracy of the AI software’s algorithm improves as more images are collected, essentially always learning to better identify shark species. This AI-powered program will ensure that sharks will continue to receive protection in their habitats. It will also provide valuable data for future shark conservation efforts in other regions.

If you want to be part of exciting AI-forward advances like these being made in Hawaii, you’ll need an education to get you there. Fortunately, you’ll find a growing number of AI programs offered by colleges and universities across the country. Best of all, many of these programs are offered in online formats that make them accessible to students anywhere in the world.

How Researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Hope to One Day Diagnose Mental Health Conditions and Developmental Delays Using AI-Powered Video Games

young man playing video games aloneIdentifying and diagnosing conditions of the brain can be challenging, complex, and time-consuming, often leading to misdiagnoses and the delay of appropriate treatment.

But researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa are working on a new AI-powered technology that they hope will facilitate the diagnosis of child and adolescent mental health conditions and developmental delays in the future.

Researchers in the Information and Computer Sciences Department received a $2.18 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of their High-Risk, High-Reward Research program. This grant will provide about five years of funding for Assistant Professor Peter Washington’s research lab, the Hawaii Digital Health Lab, which is focused on developing new AI techniques to advance diagnostic and treatment options for health conditions.

Currently, AI is used to diagnose a host of health conditions. However, it’s unable to understand complex human behavior that’s required to diagnose mental health conditions and development disorders like ADHD and autism. Washington’s team will work to create AI models that are capable of establishing computational diagnoses of complex social human behavior using videos recorded while a group of people play videos games.

The team hopes to create a program that has the ability to make psychiatric evaluations from the comfort of a home computer – crucial for families who don’t have access to available and affordable clinicians, such as those in rural Hawaii.

And because the diagnosis is made as the patient plays a video game, the program would make the traditionally taxing diagnostic process a fun experience for children and adolescents.

Research in this field is vital. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 43.8 million people experience mental illness in a given year. And the Centers for Disease Control reports that about one in six children in the U.S. have one or more developmental disabilities or delays.

AI Jobs in Hawaii

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, AI professionals, who fall under the broader job title of computer information and research scientists, numbered about 110 in Hawaii as of May 2020. However, in the decade leading up to 2030, this number is projected to increase by 18 percent, highlighting the growing demand for scientists, engineers, analysts and more in the field.

Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Honolulu and Waipahu

Whether you’re a newcomer to the field of artificial intelligence, or you’re an experienced engineer, scientist, or analyst who knows that exploring the field of AI can be a gamechanger for your career, you’ll find a variety of AI jobs in Hawaii that are sure to align with your career goals:

AI Companies in Honolulu

Hawaii’s AI field is broad and in a near-constant state of expansion, thereby creating unique opportunities for professionals with computer science, engineering, robotics, business, or related backgrounds.

Hawaii’s capital city of Honolulu is a center for high-tech companies of every size and shape, from startups to established enterprises. For example, Oceanit, which calls itself a “Mind to Market” company, creates disruptive technology that impacts both people and society. Its machine learning technologies cover a wide range of industries and sectors, including crisis management. Another big name in AI in Honolulu is AI.Fish, which develops fishery management solutions that feature electronic monitoring and computer vision analyses of video footage.

You’ll also find a wealth of AI advances being made beyond the confines of business and industry. For example, the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research, a Honolulu-based nonprofit membership organization, is dedicated to the development of the state’s tech and cybersecurity ecosystem.

And the University of Hawaii’s Artificial Intelligence Precision Health Institute works with the UH Cancer Center to reduce the burden of cancer in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. Researchers here develop AI cancer risk and detection models and support the use of AI throughout the region for cancer-related projects.

AI Salary in Honolulu

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), AI professionals in Hawaii, who fall under the broader BLS category of computer and information research scientists, earned a median salary of $127,110 as of May 2022. Those new to the profession with little experience earned about $108,540 during this time, while the profession’s most experienced earned about $136,830.

AI engineers and scientists in Urban Honolulu earned a median salary of $127,110 as of May 2022. The BLS also reported that AI professionals with little experience earned about $111,650 in this metro area during this time, while those with an advanced education and extensive experience earned a top salary of about $136,830.

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

Though AI degree and certificate programs aren’t yet available in Hawaii, a growing number of colleges and universities across the country have begun offering programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in this emerging field. Many of these programs are offered in fully online formats, which makes them readily available to students in any part of the country, even as far away as Hawaii. Thanks to online AI programs, you can earn the AI degree that meets your needs and aligns with your career goals without leaving the comfort of your home.

Bachelor’s degrees in AI, which are usually located in computer science departments, feature a strong math and science foundation with advanced math courses like linear algebra, calculus, and probability serving as the program’s foundation. AI courses in bachelor’s degrees are often focused on computational modeling, machine learning and symbolic computation.

Master’s degrees and graduate certificates in AI explore the field as it relates to engineering, computer science, robotics, data science, and even business. Therefore, these programs can be found in many different schools and departments. There’s also a growing number of schools that offer AI master’s degrees as standalone degrees that are highly interdisciplinary and draw from a number of colleges and departments.

It’s also common for AI master’s degrees to offer a number of concentration or focus areas. For example, an AI engineering master’s degree may offer concentrations in biomedical engineering, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering, while an AI computer science master’s degree may include focus options in areas like machine learning, cybersecurity, robotics, and intelligent systems.

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 November 2023.