AI Solution Architects

Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) is an independent institution for higher education, offering Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees in over 35 different disciplines to a student body of about 24,500, including approximately 800 foreign students. The University maintains academic standards that rank among the highest of all Japanese universities and colleges.

Prof. Hiroyoshi Miwa and President Osamu Murata with IBM Japan representatives

After consideration of a number of themes, it was decided to give initial priority to themes related to “basic education on AI” and “career support.” These themes are closely connected to the development and support of students, and they require particularly urgent attention in response to rapid changes in the times. Many companies have already started to use AI technology. As we move forward, society will not require experts in AI technology, but people who are able to understand and take advantage of AI and related technology, regardless of whether they are educated in liberal arts or the sciences. With this in mind, we defined “AI Architects” as “personnel who possess knowledge related to AI and data science and the ability to apply that knowledge in corporate activities, business management, and other areas to resolve a variety of real-world problems,” and set the development of such personnel as the objective of the joint project.

The personnel involved in AI can be broadly divided into three categories. These are AI researcher-developers, who are involved in the R&D of leading-edge AI technologies themselves; AI users, who use AI to solve problems on the ground or to create new services and products; and AI specialists, who provide solutions for AI users. It was decided to make the development of AI users and AI specialists in particular the target of the KGU program (Fig. 1). We made this decision based on our view that, with many companies in many different fields actually needing AI technology and demanding AI solutions, the high-volume zone for personnel demand would be in the two categories. AI users and AI specialists do not necessarily need to be fully conversant with the advanced mathematics and programming technologies that are the foundation of AI technology. We made the bold decision to keep that basic knowledge of AI technology to a minimum in the program, and to focus on the skills needed to make use of AI.

The AI Solution Architect Training Program has the following three main benefits. Firstly, the content of the classes has been developed with beginners in mind. Using a curriculum that starts with the basics and gradually accumulates more knowledge, the class is designed in such a way that students can learn well even if they are without any prior background knowledge. The second benefit is the “systematic acquisition of practical skills.” The program has been structured as a self-contained course, in which AI application skills can be acquired simply by completing the series of subjects contained in the program. It also features many practical exercises that are based on real-world situations, which will enable student to acquire practical skills in a systematic manner. The third benefit is the “cultivation of business perspectives.” The classes incorporate the practical business perspectives of companies that use AI, such as IBM. With numerous Project-Based Learning (PBL) exercises based on actual cases, students who take the program will acquire job-ready skills for a business environment.