September 30, 2023

By Janice Phelan
Communications and Marketing University of Central Missouri-Missouri Innovation Campus

Beginning next year, the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) program will launch a highly sought-after bachelor’s degree combining artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data science. The Bachelor of Science in Data Science will start in summer 2024, said Stan Elliott, MIC program director, and is offered through the MIC program’s partners – the University of Central Missouri, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and Metropolitan Community College. 

In January 2023, Elliott said he began hearing requests for the new degree from the MIC program’s business partners. 

“The business partners were asking if UCM had an AI program and, if so, when would interns be available for the Kansas City region’s workforce as the AI push was growing at a fast pace,” Elliott said. “With the Data Science BS degree program starting in June 2024, interns in the MIC program would be available in June 2025 when they begin their paid, three-year, year-round internship with one of our over 70 MIC business partners.”

The new MIC program will be chaired by Dr. Belinda Copus, UCM assistant professor and chair for the UCM Department of Computer Science and Cybersecurity.

“The BS Data Science degree was created to address the region’s needs to make vast streams and stores of data sensible and actionable across many domains, public and private,” Copus said. “We will provide the workforce with graduates who have both the theoretical knowledge and the practical skills to better inform decisions, make new discoveries and increase data’s value. I can think of no better partner than the MIC program to enable accelerated delivery of formal classroom instruction coupled with hands-on, real-world learning opportunities. We look forward to bringing this innovative delivery of our program to fruition.”

Since the Missouri Innovation Campus program began in 2012, the goal of this one-of-a-kind initiative has been to keep information technology and engineering talent within the Kansas City area, decrease the cost of a college degree, reduce the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree, eliminate the skills gap and provide a real-world learning experience through three-year, paid internships. 

Currently, 90 percent of the MIC program graduates go to work for the company they interned with, keeping workforce talent in the region, Elliott said.  

“The first MIC program cohort that can take advantage of the new Data Science degree program will be the 2024-28 cohort that will start after their sophomore year in high school and will graduate in May 2028 from UCM – only two years after graduating from high school,” he added. “And since they receive their first two years of college tuition free, our students graduate with little to no debt.”

Students enter the MIC program the summer before their junior year in high school when they begin attending Lee’s Summit R-7’s Summit Technology Academy. The students take college-level classes from UCM and Metropolitan Community College alongside their high-school courses. This places the MIC students on an accelerated pathway to complete their UCM bachelor’s degree just two years after high-school graduation. The program has received national recognition for reshaping the path to a college degree.

In addition to the Bachelor of Science in Data Science, the Missouri Innovation Campus program includes pathways to BS degrees in Drafting and Design Technology, Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Software Engineering, Business Administration in Big Data/Business Analytics and Business Administration in Computer Science Information Systems.For more information, visit the MIC program webpage.