Established in 2012, the joint master Applied Image and Signal Processing (AIS) attracts students from all over the world. By offering both scientific foundation and affinity to application, it was able to close the gap between programs offered by the two Universities, namely the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences (SUAS) and the Paris Lodron University Salzburg (PLUS). The radical technological changes in the field of artificial intelligence in the recent years now call for a modified curriculum that integrates state-of-the-art data science and machine learning components. In the following sneak-preview with Stefan Wegenkittl, the academic programme director, we take a first glance at these innovations.
Prof. Wegenkittl, are we talking about a revolution or about evolution?
Prof. Wegenkittl: In terms of essential contents and topics, the new curriculum will be an evolution of the existing one. Alongside with image and signal processing, the area of data science and machine learning will now be a third major pillar right from the first term on. By this, the elective courses can dive deeper into interesting combinations of these technologies. We intend to offer electives on Natural Language Processing and on Reinforcement Learning at SUAS, for example. We would like to reflect this change by a new programme name like Artificial Intelligence for Image and Signal Processing, while keeping the abbreviation AIS. Some other modifications shall make sure, that current R&D activities of both partners are best represented: quite a lot of our students decide for a subsequent PhD study and this shall thereby even better be supported in future.
Will this change the target audience? Who will study the new AIS program?
Prof. Wegenkittl: Our aim is twofold: first, the programme will serve for a more scientifically oriented follow-up to the Informationstechnik und System-Management (ITS) bachelor at SUAS. Especially those interested in more academic or international career paths are invited to take the offer.
Secondly, we aim at opening up the program to more interna-tional students especially from the European area. Here, we will introduce bridging courses to increase compatibility with a wider range of IT-related bachelor degrees. The international flair will thus be kept. A more revolutionary change affects the application and admission process which shall help us in better supporting the increased heterogeneity and face the challenges arising from going to study abroad.
What is the roadmap for renewing the program?
Prof. Wegenkittl: We are working hard to develop a new cur-riculum soon and hope to implement it by fall 2021. One of our main structural goals is a clearer division of contents and respon-sibilities between the two universities. This will allow us to faster integrate new technological developments in future. However, the new programme also needs to reflect changes in the curricula of the ITS master and the master Informatik of the PLUS, both of which it shares courses with.
In your experience, what makes AIS unique?
Prof. Wegenkittl: AIS is a challenging technical programme in a colorful embedding – like traveling the world with a handbook on image and signal processing. I best remember highlights such as successfully getting international students on board during the corona pandemic, implementing master exams across several continents, observing students being integrated in PhD-Labs even while finishing their master degrees, learning about subtle differences in German and Chinese when talking about rearran-ging furniture in your apartment, getting great feedback from companies that hired AIS graduates, exploring the international diversity of approaches for math class problems, and expanding our ability to cooperate and communicate in international teams. It is hard work, and it is fun, too.
A first information on the new curriculum is available on the page curriculum from fall 2021 onwards.