Why machine learning and AI are the next BIG thing in STEM

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AI is everywhere. If you’ve Googled something, opened your phone with facial recognition, or accepted autocorrect while texting in the past 24 hours, congratulations: you’ve interacted with artificial intelligence technology. 

See what I mean when I say AI is everywhere?

It’s increasingly ubiquitous in daily life, and big names like Apple, Microsoft, and Meta are investing heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning innovations. These trends, paired with the skyrocketing increase in demand for professional programmers, spells out loud and clear that AI and ML will shape the future of tech.

We in the STEM education world always keep an eye out for the next big thing! And all indicators point to this fast-evolving field taking center stage.

This fall, iD Tech announced our partnership with NVIDIA and a new course, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Certification. Along with our other unparalleled virtual learning experiences just for teens, this course is designed to bolster impressive tech repertoires.

Put together to help teens dive into the exciting world of AI and ML, the course delves into Python coding, cutting-edge hardware applications, and more. It’s the perfect learning experience for aspiring engineers, programmers, and future STEM leaders—one that’s bound to open doors!

5 reasons to explore AI & machine learning

Above and beyond all the compelling reasons to learn to code, there are several unique benefits of learning all about machine learning and artificial intelligence. Let’s take a closer look at what that means for teens.

(Need some quick definitions first? Check out this intro to machine learning and beginner’s guide to Python programming.)

Machine learning and AI are changing the world

From identifying early signs of cancer to catching wildlife poachers and improving outcomes for farmers, machine learning and AI isn’t just cool: it can be used for social good

In other words, exploring this field could lead to amazing, world-changing passion projects. Learning about technology for technology’s sake is worthwhile, don’t get us wrong, but it becomes so much more meaningful to teens when it connects with their other interests.

By leveraging the power of this tech, teens could be on their way to powering their own nonprofit or launching a website dedicated to raising awareness for causes close to their hearts. 

Understand today’s tech (and create tomorrow’s tech)

Imagine scrolling through your newsfeed and understanding exactly how it works. The real world examples of machine learning and AI at work are virtually endless, but the fact is: very few people could explain it, let alone improve the technology. 

Think about it. 

How many of us can actually say we know the first thing about how our smartphones, apps, tablets, and video games operate? The algorithms that determine the ads we see and the fastest route to take to work? Knowing how these innovations work is a game-changer, and one that could open up a world of possibilities. 

Increasingly, digital literacy is as essential as reading literacy. And while technology is becoming more and more widely available to kids, that availability doesn’t mean engagement or skill-building. 

By working towards understanding machine learning and AI, not only do kids have the motivator to understand the latest trends, but they also will build vital digital skills along the way.

These skills impress colleges and employers

This is a field that goes beyond the basics of computer science. Therefore, a deep understanding of machine learning and AI speaks volumes about teens’ STEM knowledge and experience, among the numerous other soft skills needed to succeed in this area.

What are algorithms, and how do they work? What are the fundamentals of programming? These are just a few of the many questions that teens will need to answer as they progress towards higher and higher levels of sophistication and challenge. 

And this is exactly the sort of thing that colleges and employers alike love to see. By showing that they can persevere through challenges and develop a depth of knowledge as well as a breadth of skills, teens can impress admissions officers and stand out in a pool of internship applicants. 

Develop versatile skills across STEM disciplines

Machine learning and AI bring a range of STEM fields together in a meaningful, interdisciplinary way.

From the calculus behind algorithms to the advanced engineering that goes into building intelligent robots, the latest innovations in tech combine in AI and machine learning. Learning to code, while vital, is just one piece of the puzzle.

In fact, one of the many reasons to learn Python is that it’s a building block that leads to this sophisticated tech. 

If teens are interested in both robotics and coding, they don’t have to choose between them! Math enthusiasts can see their advanced skills at work as calculus gets to work on big data sets. In this field, teens can let their skills across disciplines shine.

Develop strategic industry preparedness

We’ve all seen the STEM education stats like this one: by 2025, 3.5 million STEM jobs will go unfilled. Those gaps, however, are not evenly distributed across industries: while STEM jobs in general are projected to grow by 13% in the next few years, 71% of all those new jobs are in computing specifically.

So what does that mean for today’s teens? 

To prepare for a growing industry, developing a computer science skillset is a savvy “bet,” if you will, and it’s one with tremendous payoff potential. That’s not to say that developing multifaceted STEM skills isn’t worthwhile, the intersections among industries and areas of study are undeniable. That said, a focus on tech, programming, and the inner workings of AI and machine learning, will strategically set teens up for success. 

That’s not just because careers in data science, IT, software engineering, and other tech-centric professions are well paid, the supply of qualified people for these careers simply does not match the demand. Only 8% of STEM graduates are in Computer Science, and that number needs to seriously change if teens are going to take advantage of this unprecedented window of opportunity in tech. 

So, what are you waiting for? 

Launch a STEM journey with a purpose

“Education is the key to creating more opportunities for yourself. Through our partnership with iD Tech, we hope to provide immersive experiences and create pathways for the next generation to pursue exciting careers in STEM,” said Gerard Andrews, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Robotics at NVIDIA.

There’s no time like the present to help teens gain a competitive edge and spark a passion for tech. That’s why we’re thrilled to team up with NVIDIA in a new course designed to do exactly that! 

Check out our cutting-edge suite of virtual programs for teens, offered in partnership with the world’s biggest names in tech. 

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.