College Launches MDC Tech Initiative$15M in grants from Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County, City of Miami and Miami DDA to expand tech programs and fuel the Miami tech ecosystem

Noelle Silver at podium for AI Speaker Series

The College has launched MDC Tech to bring together industry leaders, community partners, faculty, students and community members to boost the development local talent and make sure that Miamians are first in line for the boom in tech jobs in our community. Visit MDC Tech now!

As Miami continues positioning itself as a major international technology hub, Miami Dade College (MDC) announces it will expand its educational offerings with a total of $15 million combined investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County, City of Miami and the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The funds will support innovative programs in applied artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and related emerging technologies.

The $15 million investment comprises a $7 million grant from Knight Foundation, a $5 million contribution from Miami-Dade County, $2 million from the City of Miami and $1 million from the Miami DDA.

“MDC has been the higher education leader in the South Florida community for 62 years, helping to build and elevate our city from within,” said MDC President and alumna Madeline Pumariega. “With these historic investments and support from key partners, we are expanding that mission, preparing students for top jobs in emerging and growing technology careers, helping residents upskill to attain economic mobility, and driving the growth of businesses in South Florida while fueling local talent for the jobs of tomorrow, today.”

Over the past five years, MDC’s School of Engineering and Technology (EnTec) has garnered the attention and support of top global industry leaders in emerging technologies, including IBM, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google, Cisco and Oracle. As a result, EnTec’s programs in areas including cloud computing, cybersecurity and data analysis are among the country’s most market-aligned in terms of curriculum and skills development. Since 2017, enrollment in tech-related programs at EnTec has grown by 120%. Today, EnTec serves more than 5,000 students each year across more than 30 degrees.

“Miami Dade College is a cornerstone institution in Miami, offering high-quality, accessible educational and workforce training programming for our incredibly talented and diverse community,” said Raul Moas, senior director of the Knight Foundation Miami program. “With this new investment from Knight Foundation and our valued partners here in Miami, MDC is significantly growing its ability to meet the growing community demand for careers in tech while fueling industry with needed talent.”

Since 2012, Knight Foundation has invested more than $55 million in nurturing Miami’s tech and startup ecosystem by connecting entrepreneurs, attracting investments and growing the city’s talent base. This latest investment builds on Knight’s support of Miami Tech, including a $15 million commitment in Florida International University (FIU), the University of Miami (UM) and Baptist Health South Florida announced in February 2021. In September 2021, Knight announced $510,000 in investments to four local organizations and entities that help boost a sense of community among tech practitioners in the city.  In November 2021,  Knight Foundation announced a $2.25 million investment in CodePath to expand and launch programming at FIU, Florida Memorial University and MDC to connect students to tech careers.

This groundbreaking gift comes at a time when enrollment in tech programs is reaching all-time highs and will allow MDC to increase by over 20-percent its EnTec faculty with a focus in AI and emerging tech disciplines, as well as develop new courses and professional development programs in these fields. MDC will also implement AI for All, an initiative that aims to train every MDC student in applied AI regardless of their degree track.

“Time and time again, Miami Dade College has proven itself to be an invaluable partner in Miami’s development as the Capital of Capital—and during a time where human capital is just as, if not more, valuable as financial capital, this $2 million from the City of Miami to invest in a talent pipeline is $2 million well spent, with immeasurable returns,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Through this initiative, MDC will be the first college in the nation to implement an artificial intelligence course in its core curriculum. MDC will also build an AI Center to foster experiential learning and collaboration between industry and academia, which will join existing MDC technology centers focused on animation and gaming, cloud computing and cybersecurity.

“Downtown Miami has become a fertile ground for innovation and a high-tech cluster is taking shape before our eyes. Like Miami Dade College, the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has been on the front lines in growing our economy and grooming talent,” said City of Miami Commissioner and Chairman of the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Manolo Reyes. “Recognizing that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already playing a critical role in our daily lives and that its impact will grow with time, the Miami DDA is making a $1 million investment to help put Downtown Miami on the global map as one of the top places to learn and develop the science behind AI.”

The expansion of MDC’s technology programs thanks to this new multimillion-dollar funding to MDC comes as the College launches MDC Tech, a gateway to connect students, community members and employers with tech offerings at MDC. Through MDC Tech, current and prospective students will have access to all MDC tech courses, programs and professional development opportunities, as well as scholarships. Tech companies and other Miami employers seeking local tech talent will also find a direct platform to reach MDC students with the most sought-after tech skills.

“We are an extremely talented community with a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit that could take the current tech boom to the next level if given an opportunity to do so,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “It is an honor for Miami-Dade County to partner with our local college community to invest in our residents and open new doors in the tech industry for local talent. Together, we are giving the tech industry local roots so it can grow even stronger and our community can thrive.”