Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, April 27, 2021

South Dakota Mines Offers New Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity and Visual Computer Science Specializations

Jackson Cates, a computer science major at South Dakota Mines, explains some of his research on a new mathematical model he helped to develop at Mines.

Three new specializations in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at South Dakota Mines allow students to hone highly sought after skills in fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science and engineering, cybersecurity, along with visual and interactive programming. 

The specializations, combined with Mines’ computer science bachelor’s degree, empower students to create cutting-edge computer programs and algorithms that can transform the world. These students will be on the forefront of creating everything from self-driving cars, to high-end video game graphics, to the latest software that protects the nation’s infrastructure from cyberattack. The rigorous training, coursework, and hands-on experiences put Mines graduates a step above others when it comes to finding employment and advancing their careers in multiple fields.

“AI has basically infiltrated every field of science and engineering,” says Randy Hoover, associate professor of computer science and computer engineering at Mines and one of the architects of the new specializations. Hoover is part of a multidisciplinary faculty committee examining ways to integrate artificial intelligence classes into various curriculums taught at Mines.

The South Dakota Board of Regents approved these new specializations to begin in the Fall Semester of 2021:

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

This specialization focuses on data science and engineering. It involves the areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence, data mining and big data, as well as data analytics and applied statistics. Graduates of the specialization are able to participate in emerging areas of data science that are transforming the world. This skillset is highly sought after by employers in South Dakota and around the globe.


This specialization empowers students in security theory and gives them practice in computer and network security, as well as in areas where computers affect our physical world, such as robotics, internet of things, industrial control systems and more. The specialization requires students to take 400-level courses in information security, networking, and digital forensics. Graduates of the specialization have high-level cyber defense skills that are widely sought after by a range of companies in the private sector and by government agencies such as the NSA and FBI, who are working to protect the United States from attackers.

Visual and Interactive Programming

This specialization provides students with a greater emphasis on graphics and interface components of programming.  Completion of the specialization enables graduates to build and work with graphically-based computer creations, such as video games, virtual or augmented reality and improved interfaces for applications like websites. Graphical user interfaces, user experience and product development are subfields of computer science that are needed for a huge range of consumer applications beyond gaming. The specialization is designed for students who wish to apply for jobs that build and program interface components like VR headsets, game controllers, motion-sensing devices, and many others.

“There are other programs in the state of South Dakota and around the region working on similar areas of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and graphics and they are all doing great work on everything from healthcare applications to energy distribution. At Mines, in addition to teaching our students to solve state-of-the-art problems, we delve into basic research on developing new algorithms and forging new ground in computer science and engineering. We are building the tools that others use to solve problems,” says Hoover.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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