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

Written by Rebecca Turley

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Though Idaho may not come to mind when you consider states making significant strides in the emerging field of artificial intelligence, the truth is that cutting-edge, groundbreaking discoveries in AI are being made here every day.

Idaho’s advances in AI are undoubtedly anchored by Idaho Falls’ Idaho National Laboratory (INL), one of 17 national laboratories within the U.S. Department of Energy Complex. This massive research facility is home to more than 6,100 researchers and staff behind some of the most innovative solutions in nuclear energy, renewable energy systems, and security. Here, major advancements are being made in clean energy, clean water delivery, cybersecurity, nuclear fuels, and more. It’s also where you’ll find the world’s premier materials test reactor, the Advanced Test Reactor – one of just two reactors in the country that’s capable of producing life-saving medical radioisotopes.

INL is deeply entrenched in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that support its research missions. In fact, its AI missions include:

AI/ML is already being used by INL to support a number of research areas and applications, including nuclear energy, advanced scientific computing, national security, emergency response, and transportation. For example, the Nuclear Safety and Regulatory Research Division, which ensures the nation’s safe, competitive, and sustainable use of engineered systems, has embarked upon a number of AI/ML projects that are focused on advanced remote monitoring for operations readiness; automation of the work process; risk-informed predictive maintenance strategies; computerized operator support systems; dynamic human reliability analysis; and more.

INL also frequently collaborates with private industry to advance AI-forward technologies. For example, the organization partnered with Dynexus Technology, a Colorado-based company, along with Pattern Computer, a Washington-based company, to enhance the company’s battery diagnostic tool with AI. INL developed an AI tool called Inline Rapid Impedance Spectroscopy (iRIS) and licensed it to Dynexus Technology to improve how battery health is measured. Now, INL researchers have started to combine iRIS with Pattern’s technology, called Pattern Discovery Engine, to make the tool even more accurate.

Can AI Actually Make Songs that Resonate with Human Music Lovers?

music backgroundStringing together musical notes into meaningful patterns has long been a gift reserved solely for composers. While computer programs may be able to create some simplified musical combinations, they’ve fallen short at generating more complex musical sequences and elements. But Idaho State University Assistant Professor of Computer Science Paul Bodily has spent more than seven years creating an AI-powered program that uses artificial intelligence to make music that’s sure to impress music makers and listeners alike.

AI always struggled with being able to choose elements in one part of a musical sequence based on the elements chosen in another part of the sequence. Those in the AI field refer to this as a “long-range dependency problem.” While computer programs can generate a sequence of notes, they’re not great at generating a series of sequences that are interdependent upon one another to create natural flow.

With this in mind, Bodily developed an AI system he calls Pop* (pronounced “pop star”), a program that he says solves the vexing long-range dependency problem. Pop* uses a machine learning model that considers the entire piece of music before it generates a sequence. This program has the ability to look ahead and determine what will come next, thereby ensuring that entire piece makes sense and flows well.

Bodily trained Pop* on nursery rhymes and pop classics, allowing it to learn about chords, rhythms, and lyrics. It uses Twitter to find lyrics that mirror the classic song themes of being in love, feeling sad, and finding new beginnings.

Bodily hopes AI-powered systems like Pop* will be used for a number of purposes in the future, including therapeutic purposes. He hopes to integrate it into a mobile app that allows users to input their thoughts or feelings and then allow Pop* to generate a “meaningful musical expression.”

AI Jobs in Idaho

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, AI engineers and scientist jobs in Idaho are expected to increase by 18 percent in the years leading up to 2030.

According to the Technology Councils of North America, Idaho saw the second-largest increase among tech workers between December 2019 and December 2021 – 7.3 percent (second only behind Tennessee, who saw a jump of 8 percent). And in the last decade, the number of high-tech companies in the Gem State grew by a whopping 61 percent.

CompTIA’s 2023 State of the Tech Workforce report revealed that Idaho ranks eighth in the nation for the growth of its tech workforce, with the number of tech jobs here expected to grow by 22 percent by 2033. Idaho is home to about 39,000 workers – that’s about 33 percent of its workforce.

Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Boise and Meridian

Whether your skills lie in computer science, data science, robotics, or engineering, Idaho is where you’ll find superb opportunities to make a name for yourself in the emerging field of AI. For example:

AI Companies in Idaho Falls, Boise, and Meridian

Tech jobs in Idaho are supported by big names like Boise’s Micron Technology, the only U.S.-based memory chip maker, Hewlett-Packard, and the Idaho Falls’ Idaho National Laboratory, which was responsible for creating the nation’s first nuclear reactor to generate usable amounts of electricity. A growing number of tech incubators and accelerators are encouraging AI startups and attracting entrepreneurs from all over the country.

For example, Karus, a financial tech company focused on AI, recently announced its plans to start its operation in Boise. They’re using machine learning to create efficient credit markets and help lenders and originators make them more efficient.

At Natural Intelligence in Meridian, their pattern-based machine learning architecture develops more useful, understandable, and actionable information than current AI/ML systems and also reduces the time and cost associated with collecting training data.

And Silverdraft Supercomputing in Boise, a virtualization technology company, uses virtual and augmented reality, AI, and ML to help major companies like Nissan, Disney, and Toyota visualize their products.

AI Salary in Idaho

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), AI professionals in Idaho, who fall under the broader BLS category of computer and information research scientists, earned a median salary of $139,310 as of May 2022. Those new to the profession earned about $113,320 during this time, while those with extensive experience and advanced degrees earned about $165,400.

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

Although Idaho colleges and universities don’t yet offer AI programs, you’ll find a growing number of schools across the country offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees in this field. Plus, many of them are offering these programs through fully online formats, allowing students to earn their AI degree from the comfort of home, anywhere in the world.

Bachelor’s degrees in AI provide a solid foundation and comprehensive overview of the field of AI, usually through a computer science or engineering lens. These programs feature a heavy focus on math and science, along with an AI core covering the theory, methodologies, and applications of this technology. Topics studied in these programs include machine learning, autonomous systems, robotics, neural networks, computer vision, and more.

Master’s degrees and graduate certificate programs in AI provide computer scientists, engineers, and data scientists, and more with advanced, focused study in the field. Because AI is an interdisciplinary field of study, you’ll find these programs offered in schools of computer science, arts and sciences, engineering, and more. While most programs are offered as a focus or concentration in computer science or engineering, you’ll also find many free-standing AI programs that combine study from different schools within the university.

Many computer science and engineering AI master’s degrees also feature concentration options that allow students to study AI as it relates specifically to their career goals. For example, an MS in AI through a school of engineering may offer concentration options in chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, and more. Similarly, an MS in AI through a computer science department may feature concentration options in areas like machine learning, autonomous systems, robotics, and cybersecurity.

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.