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7 Universities Partner with IBM on Cognitive Computing Courses

Seven universities in the United States have partnered with IBM to launch cognitive computing courses featuring cloud access to the company's Watson computer.

"Cognitive computing systems," such as Watson, "learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either humans or machine could do on their own," according to information on IBM's site. "They help human experts make better decisions by penetrating the complexity of big data."

Universities offering the courses, set to launch in the fall, include Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, Ohio State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan and the University of Texas at Austin.

"Co-designed by the Watson Group and leading academic experts in fields such as artificial intelligence and computer science," according to a news release, "the courses will empower students with the technical knowledge and hands-on learning required to develop new cognitive computing applications fueled by Watson's intelligence."

Classes will first learn about Watson and technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing. Each class will choose an industry, then provide data via the Watson Developer Cloud to train the computer. Eventually, classes will break into groups to develop apps and business plans for the industry selected earlier.

Sections of the course will include Building Ideas for Cognitive Innovation, Fueling Watson's Knowledge with Data, Creating Cognitive Apps in the Cloud and Developing Entrepreneurial Know-How.

To help ensure the success of the classes, IBM will provide support form experts, guest lectures from company executives and thought leaders and Watson technical mentors. The company will also launch the Watson Faculty Advisory Board, comprising representatives from IBM and the seven participating universities.

Citing a forecast from market research firm Gartner that predicts 4.4 million new IT jobs to support big data by next year, an IBM news release says that the courses will help "educate a new generation of innovators who can bring to life this new dynamic of people and machines working together to solve pressing industry and societal challenges."

The courses are just the latest step in a larger effort by IBM "to fuel an ecosystem of innovators who will help make cognitive computing the new standard of computing," according to a news release. Other initiatives include Watson Case Competitions, the release of Watson as an application development platform and the upcoming opening of Watson to corporate developers.

"By putting Watson in the hands of tomorrow's innovators, we are unleashing the creativity of the academic community into a fast-growing ecosystem of partners who are building transformative cognitive computing applications," said Michael Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM's Watson Group, in a prepared statement. "This is how we will make cognitive the new standard of computing across the globe: by inspiring all catalysts of innovation, from university campuses to start-up offices, to take Watson's capabilities and create apps that solve major challenges."

More information about Watson is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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