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AI Academy Partners with Booz Allen Hamilton To Help Veterans, Transitioning Service Members Grow Skills in Artificial Intelligence

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Booz Allen Hamilton, a global technology consulting firm with expertise in analytics, digital, engineering and cyber technology, has partnered with NC State’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Academy to train their employees to meet a growing demand for talent in the area of artificial intelligence.

The AI Academy is a nationally registered apprenticeship program funded by a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and designed to train individuals to assume roles within the area of artificial intelligence. Carla C. Johnson, Ph.D., a professor of science education in the NC State College of Education, is the principal investigator on the grant and the executive director of the program. 

The program began in March 2020 with a 12-month planning period in which industry leaders worked alongside Johnson and collaborators from NC State’s Department of Computer Science, including Collin Lynch, Ph.D., Thomas Price, Ph.D., Min Chi, Ph.D., and Noboru Matsuda, Ph.D.

The four-course, 40-week workforce development program has set a goal of upskilling 5,000 individuals to enter the artificial intelligence pipeline, with a specific focus on recruiting veterans, underrepresented workers, underemployed workers, informational technology employees and those seeking an opportunity to move into a different career.

Booz Allen’s workforce is roughly one-third military-connected, including veterans, Guard members, Reservists and military spouses. While transitioning service members come to the firm with relevant skills based on their military career, the apprenticeship offered as part of the AI Academy will allow these employees to use their military experience while training them for future-focused careers and gaining skills in critical areas. 

“Data analytics and machine learning skills, coupled with mission understanding from our military veterans, are critical to the future of our nation’s defense and much of modern industry,” said Greg Wenzel, executive vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, leader of the firm’s Army business, Global Defense CTO, and executive sponsor of Booz Allen’s Mil/Tech Workforce Initiative. “Companies like Booz Allen need a constant influx of talent in order to help keep America at the forefront. But many of these skills require experiential learning to be useful, so an apprenticeship that combines classroom learning with on-the-job training is really ideal.”

Johnson said there are currently too few qualified individuals in the artificial intelligence workforce and a high demand for workers with relevant skills. The AI Academy aims to remedy this gap by providing a streamlined approach to upskilling that is coupled with on-the-job training and mentoring within an employee’s existing workplace and by giving companies like Booz Allen an opportunity to select employees from their existing talent pool to invest in through training. 

“The NC State AI Academy is pleased to partner with Booz Allen Hamilton as we share similar missions focused on providing career pathways for transitioning military and veterans into much needed and highly skilled career opportunities. It is so important to support the thousands of individuals who have given so much to our country and we are excited to have Booz Allen Hamilton as our collaborator on this program,” Johnson said. 

Booz Allen’s Mil/Tech Workforce Initiative, a series of coordinated efforts to support extended transition from active duty to a civilian career, seeks out innovative programs like the AI Academy and connects transitioning military personnel with them while educating them about skills that are critical for roles in sectors like artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Booz Allen and the AI Academy have further engaged in helping to prepare transitioning service members for careers in the artificial intelligence sector during the Veteran Transition to Tech Networking Event at the North Carolina Military Business Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Aug. 4.

AI Academy Program Director Stacey Smith, Ph.D., spoke during the event, which was co-hosted by Booz Allen and attended by transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses.  “Our work in the region requires a well-prepared workforce and local installations like Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune represent a huge opportunity to help transitioning service members stay in the area while creating a path to future-focused careers,” said Jay Dodd, vice president at Booz Allen and a leader in the firm’s Fayetteville office. “We love working with partners like NC State who know the region and are familiar with transitioning military talent, and we are excited for this and future engagements in the region in order to continue building a strong local tech talent pipeline.”