PPG and Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania (BGCWPA) announced the expansion of the PPG Artificial Intelligence Pathways Institute (AIPI) & Teen Accelerator program to new locations in Western Pennsylvania, as well as a pilot program for youth in Detroit. All locations will include a mix of in-person and virtual programming.
Since 2019, PPG and BGCWPA have been partners on AIPI, a three-week, intensive summer program connecting underrepresented students in grades nine through 11 who have a passion for technology and who are traditionally untapped in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields. The program focuses on project-based hands-on learning, mentorship, career exposure and networking opportunities. As a new addition to the program in the upcoming year, BGCWPA and PPG will develop an IT pre-apprentice program to offer training pathways for AIPI program participants.
“Thanks to the impressive support of PPG, BGCWPA and our partners can expand our AIPI Program in order to serve more communities, particularly given the continued lack of diversity in STEM technical roles in this region and beyond,” Boys & Girls Clubs of WPA President and CEO Dr. Lisa Abel-Palmieri said. “According to the Allegheny Conference, less than 2% of the IT workforce are Black and less than 10% of computer programmers identify as being minority or females. Out-of-School Time organizations like BGCWPA are a critical partner and bridge to identify, prepare and connect youth to companies with emerging tech roles. Expanding AIPI will impact young peoples’ futures and the future of our city,” Abel-Palmieri added.
Entering its third year, AIPI will help participants earn micro-credentials from the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy, in addition to placing up to 20 AIPI second-year students into corporate internships at companies like Argo AI, CGI, Google, Amazon and NVIDIA. The AIPI Teen Accelerator, an after-school youth workforce development program, hosts an additional 30 students and expands upon foundational skills learned in the summer intensive program. Teens gain access to office space, are paid an hourly wage and dive into advanced programming and AI topics.
Students can earn an NVIDIA Jetson Robot Certification as they prepare for internships the following summer.
As part of the program’s real-world and project-based curriculum, student groups are tasked with participating in a judged session where they present solutions to community social justice challenges of their choice using AI.
The students are introduced to computer programming specific to robotics, coding, human-centered design and other topics.
“Education, and specifically early, hands-on experience with STEM programming, enables possibilities for the next generation of STEM leaders,” said Malesia Dunn, executive director, PPG Foundation and corporate global social responsibility. “We are thrilled to continue this program in the Pittsburgh area and beyond to reach diverse students and communities and initiate bright futures in artificial intelligence and other significant career paths.”
Since the launch of AIPI in 2019, PPG has played an integral role in the development, continuation and growth of this pioneering, first-of-its-kind program.
With more than 70 PPG volunteers participating in the first program year, PPG employees give their time to AIPI through mentorship and by judging the AI poster projects.
The students responsible for the projects selected by PPG volunteer judges are then offered paid part-time internships with BGCWPA to further develop their prototypes throughout the school year.
AIPI will continue to grow and reach a national level with a pilot program at Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.
“Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan is thankful and excited to bring PPG’s Artificial Intelligence Pathways Institute to Michigan through our partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania,” said Shawn H. Wilson, BGCSM president and CEO. “AIPI will help BGCSM meet our goal of ensuring youth are career, start-up and homeowner ready, thus ending the cycle of poverty many of our youth faces.”