Get hands on with artificial intelligence

NDSU students have several opportunities to sharpen computer programming skills while working with high profile, emerging technology like artificial intelligence.

Several computer science courses highlight artificial intelligence, including dedicated undergraduate and graduate offerings. Classes on machine learning, databases and other topics in the computer science curriculum also touch on the importance of artificial intelligence.

One of the most impactful AI experiences on campus comes from outside the classroom. The Byte-le Royale competition is a 12-hour programming event created and offered by NDSU students. Competitors work in teams of up to three members to write artificial intelligence code that will successfully play a video game. All NDSU students are eligible for the event, which is streamed live on social media. Students earn cash prizes, but hands-on experience is one of the primary benefits of the competition.

“Hands-on experience is extremely important, especially for a practical field like computer science” said Erick Bickler, a computer science major from Williston, North Dakota. “Classroom learning is only one step in the process. Byte-le Royale gives students an opportunity to apply their knowledge and learn concrete skills to something new.”

Bickler said Byte-le Royale helps introduce students to the Python programming language, which is common throughout the industry. The competition also helps advance team work and communication skills.

“Most large companies are using some form of artificial intelligence, with the biggest players like Google using it as a primary tool for business growth,” Bickler said. “At NDSU, students can learn the fundamentals of computer science that will build a strong background for AI.”

NDSU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science. Undergraduates also can choose to emphasis cybersecurity, data science or software engineering within the major. The student organization Association for Computing Machinery, which hosts the Byte-le Royale event, provides addition support for NDSU computer science students.

“Being part of the Association of Computing Machinery was the biggest contributor to my success at NDSU,” Bickler said. “It’s been important to stay involved on campus. It allowed me to find peers that have similar interests and helped me grow my confidence as a future computer science professional.”