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NWFSC to Receive Funding from the Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive Grant Program

Last week, Governor DeSantis announced Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) as a recipient of the Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive Grant. NWFSC plans to further incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) skills and coursework into its Computer Science and Cybersecurity curriculum, effective Summer 2024. The introduction of these courses aligns with the College’s commitment to providing students with innovative educational opportunities that meet the demands of the ever-evolving technology landscape.
“We are thrilled and deeply grateful for this substantial investment in Florida's future,” expressed Dr. Devin Stephenson, President of NWFSC. “Thanks to Governor DeSantis and the Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive Grant Program, the College can play a crucial role in advancing Florida's semiconductor industry.” 
Beginning in Summer 2024, the College will feature two foundational courses: AI Fundamentals and AI Ethics. These courses will pave the way for the Fall 2024 semester, where an additional trio of classes will be offered: AI Machine Learning Foundations, AI Natural Language Processing, and AI Applications. This augmented program will effectively facilitate growing industry needs by supporting student completion of Career Technical Education (CTE) Certifications for a competitive advantage in successful job search—across multiple in-demand occupations.
“This is nothing short of transformative for our region,” said Dr. Henry Mack, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The program will include the development of two AI laboratories in Niceville and Fort Walton Beach campuses to maximize accessibility. As Florida embraces AI technology and recruits semi-conductor related businesses, training and demand must be matched. An investment in this strategic response to the current workforce environment will increase access to AI technologies, provide essential training, and help transform Florida's future workforce.”
Designed to cater to a diverse audience, our AI courses and certificates cater to both beginners seeking fundamental knowledge and professionals aiming to enhance their career portfolios. Upon successful completion of AI Fundamentals, AI Ethics, and one of the three advanced courses, students will earn a College Credit Certificate in Artificial Intelligence. NWFSC’s curriculum stands out by combining theoretical knowledge with practical applications through hands-on labs, immersing students in real-world scenarios. 
“A unique feature of our AI program is the opportunity for students to earn industry-recognized Microsoft Azure AI certifications,” said Dr. Jeff McGill, Dean of Workforce Education at NWFSC. “Ranging from Fundamentals to Engineering Associate, Data Scientist Associate, Data Engineering Associate, and Designing and Implementing a Microsoft AI Solution, these certifications validate that our students meet industry standards and expectations at varying proficiency levels.”
The Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive Grant Program provides grants to school districts and Florida College System institutions to fund some or all the costs associated with the creation or expansion of career and technical education workforce development programs that lead to industry certifications included on the CAPE Industry Certification Funding List.

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