American multinational technology company Microsoft said on 13 June that it would partner with colleges and universities across India to open AI (artificial intelligence) digital labs in an effort to boost technology infrastructure and educator capability, and help students to acquire skills in the field.
As part of the three-year program, Microsoft will collaborate with ten higher education institutions in India, including BITS Pilani, BML Munjal University, ISB, Kalpataru Institute of Technology, KL University, Periyar University, Karunya University, SRM Institute of Science & Technology, SVKM (NMIMS) and Trident Academy of Technology.
Microsoft plans to give the selected institutions support with infrastructure, curriculum and content, alongside access to cloud and AI services, and developer support. The company said it would facilitate the setting up of AI infrastructure and an Internet of Things (IoT) hub at the institutions as well as access to its AI developmental tools and Azure AI Services.
Training programs for the faculty of the institutions would include workshops on cloud computing, data sciences, AI and IoT, and faculty would receive assistance in strategizing content and curricula for project-based and experiential learning, the company said.
Microsoft believes that the program will serve almost 1.5 lakh (a lakh is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand) students as part of its commitment to building a “future-ready workforce”.
It said it hoped that with the edge of the company’s Intelligent Cloud Hub program, the selected institutions will become “learning centers of intelligent technologies and innovation hubs of path-breaking solutions”.
Citing a recent Microsoft and IDC Asia/Pacific study, the company suggested that “lack of skills, resources and continuous learning programs emerged as one of the top challenges faced by Indian organizations in adopting AI to accelerate their businesses”.
Microsoft’s goal with this program is to “amp up institutional setup along with educator capability, and provide relevant educational choices for students, helping them acquire the skills needed to fill the wide skills gap emerging across India and the global economy”.
“As AI becomes mainstream, organizations will require talent with skillsets that are very different from what exist now,” Anant Maheshwari, President of Microsoft India, said in a statement. “Educators and institutions are integral to the skilling revolution taking root in the country. With the right technology infrastructure, curriculum and training, we can empower today’s students to build the India of tomorrow.”