The importance of future-proofing tech programs

Business woman with red hair coding on a monitor

In a fast-paced, tech-driven world, graduates need to future-proof their skills – now more than ever.

The future is here!

The digital world is expanding rapidly, and Calgary is quickly establishing itself as the place to be. The future is uncertain, but that doesn’t mean we need to be! Creative, digital, data-based solutions leverage the uncertainties, putting our graduates ahead of the challenges that the industry supplies.

Future-proofing education requires forward and flexible solutions to ensure excellence. When the digital landscape shifts exponentially, School for Advanced Digital Technology (SADT) grads are ready with the latest technology, a person-first lens and an eye for growth. The future doesn’t require a degree in programming to get ahead of the curve — a forward-focused mindset is all you need.

To future-proof is to think big and recognize the industry's multidisciplinary needs. Growth in Artificial Intelligence (AI) through Machine Learning (ML) and deep learning models is one way to turn this volatility into an opportunity. Knowledge of these tools is required not only in software engineering and finance but also in healthcare and even in media.

Programs like DALL-E Craiyon use AI to generate original art and images through text inputs. The implications for movie backgrounds, stills, concept art and storyboarding alone are substantial. ML and deep learning algorithms in healthcare are being used to develop AI that can better recognize skin cancer from images or recognize sepsis up to 24 hours before doctors can — saving lives. This, of course, comes with challenges of biased models and despite appearing to be an automated process, it still relies on humans to provide the input and thus is subject to human error.

Training our students on the ethical use of these newest technologies could give them an upper hand in the workforce, enabling them to shape the fields they enter. Here at SAIT, we can start by incorporating these technologies into the classroom.

In this rapid expansion of technology, policies and regulations are severely lagging. SAIT and SADT in particular can get ahead of government initiatives by putting people first. Educators can leverage these powerful tools to create jobs rather than take them by focusing on the people these new technologies impact — from developers to end users and everyone in between.

Programs such as SADT’s Cyber Security Analyst and Data Analytics post-diploma certificates are great examples of this. By showing how data can be leveraged through analysis, these programs highlight gaps in our current systems and how data (when properly and ethically interpreted) can be used to fill them. Data is only valid when we understand it. Our Data Analytics program can help learners to optimize data, while our Business Intelligence Data Analysis and Reporting program contextualizes the information for specific organizations. Data is ubiquitous — impacting every industry. It brings meaning and support for decision-making and excellence. Without data, industries would be built on gut feelings and best guesses.

As a newcomer to Calgary and Alberta, I am excited to see what the future holds and help promote digital opportunities and solutions across every industry. The future doesn’t have to be intimidating. Here at the School for Advanced Digital Technology, the future is an opportunity we are ready to seize. If you want to be a part of the digital revolution as a future student, an industry partner, or a thought leader as we expand our programming, reach out!

Lauren Dwyer is SADT’s new Academic Chair for Data and Artificial intelligence. Originally from St. John’s. Newfoundland she has spend the last 7 years in Toronto pursuing her Masters degree and now finishing her Ph.D., in Communication and Culture where she specialized in human-centred design practices for emerging technologies, focusing on how we can put people first by taking an ethics-based communications approach to design. Lauren brings expertise in the ethical development and use of new technology to the continuous development of the data programs at SADT.