In a context where artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important for companies, training responsible professionals to think, deploy, use and sustain secure systems is ever more important. The 2022-23 academic year sees emlyon business school launch its MSc in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence Strategy with this target in mind. Among others.

Establishing objectives, identifying a philosophy, targeting student profiles, designing pedagogy and organizing the launch. Such is the lot of any Program Director. In the case of the new emlyon Master of Science, this task is being headed by Professor Imène Brigui, for whom the mission is clear: “we are seeking to train future professionals so they can master technical skills but also strategy, hence the name of the program. They'll need to be able to solve complex problems in a variety of areas and understand the specificities of those areas. But one thing we do not want to overlook is the Big R. Responsibility. In relation to society, the environment, issues of privacy, and regulations.”

An appetite for AI

As part of this bold initiative, one for which emlyon is a precursor, the school is actively seeking a wide range of profiles with an appetite for AI but also feeding that appetite. Applicants with a technical educational background are of great interest but not solely. Those with a less technical CV but wanting to hone their skills are also very welcome, not to mention Engineering students looking to upscale their Business and Management knowledge base and to acquire hybrid competencies in solving complex business problems. Imène insists on this open but also focused student profiling: “each student's professional project will be extra-important as it will help us assess why they want to go into the world of AI. We are not just interested in the use of AI but the reasons behind it. If an applicant has a more financial or marketing background, no problem if their intentions are clear. We are seeking to hybridize business and technology, so there is no sense in making the program a closed shop.”

A wealth of professional opportunities

Chief among any emlyon business school program is to provide training of business relevance. In the field of AI, the school has already been prolific via its AI Institute, dedicating considerable time into research activity. The focus areas of this activity? Above all, the implications of AI for organizations, industries, and business ecosystems. The launch of the MSc in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence Strategy represents the next key piece in the puzzle, one which fits the bill for the sector. According to Benoît Caplain (Partner – Data insight, Digital Strategy & Customer Experience, ATOS and member of the MSc in DSAIS Scientific and Improvement Committee), training in AI offers a wealth of professional opportunities: “we are building a world where capturing measurements becomes a trivial practice. Grouped, those become data and are used to model our social interactions, our industries, our cities and even our bodies. Building proper and actionable outputs from data requires sector expertise combined with data skills. At Atos, we value hybrid professionals with this dual specialty. For them our playground is boundless.”

Kick-off time

With the program to be launched at the beginning of the next academic year, operations are already well advanced. An “AI Booster” will provide students with four weeks of intensive training in data science practice, data cleaning and analysis from scratch and Machine Learning basics. Other pedagogical experiences are also proposed such as Robotics, Cybersecurity and smart city workshops where "out-of-class" elements are planned as part of the program, not forgetting an International Seminar. For Imène, these aspects all fit into the overall ethos of the pedagogical design of the MSc: “Immersion. Refresher. Teamwork. Cohesion. We want to bond the first cohort of students but also get them on the same page. We have great ambitions for the program and will back these ambitions up by getting everyone together from the very start.”

Industry needs duly met

Preparing any future graduate of emlyon for the industry of their choice remains the final goal, in the best interests of all. The student profiling established is evident and the essential building blocks are in place. But what about the needs of the industry itself, to want to recruit such profiles? For Walid Benzarti (Director for Innovation, Research and Technology - Land and Air Systems, Thales Group and member of the MSc in DSAIS Scientific and Improvement Committee), the challenge is considerable but certainly achievable: “We develop different types of sensors generating various types and huge amount of data. These are a major source for creating smart services for our clients. However, these services need to be trustable and resilient to be used in strategic systems. Hence, it is important to explain but also to apply AI correctly. In order to achieve these goals, we need to train future professionals who can develop these specific technologies but also mature them and ensure their complete reliability and resilience in the end-users hands”. Hence emlyon's decision to go boldly into an artificial world requiring a responsible program.