The University of Waterloo and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) partner to focus on talent development in artificial intelligence (AI) through co-operative education and work-integrated learning (WIL).

Waterloo’s Co-operative and Experiential Education team and Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute (Waterloo.AI) are partnering with NTNU on a project titled International Work-Integrated-Learning in Artificial Intelligence (IWIL AI). Diku, the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education, has a program to support partnerships that strengthen education for a sustainable future called UTFORSK. Diku and UTFORSK awarded funding to the partner project.

Lisa ter Woort (she/her), Co-operative Education’s international account manager and business developer, and Harold Godwin (he/him), managing director of Waterloo.AI, collaborated to create this successful project proposal.

Waterloo is a leader in building the intelligent systems of tomorrow through Waterloo.AI. This project is an investment in developing future-ready talent using our co-operative education model.

Lisa ter Woort (she/her), international account manager and business developer, Co-operative Education

Driving the future of AI research

The four-year project promotes the value of co-op/WIL and its intersection with foundational and applied research. IWIL AI will fund 24 Waterloo co-op students as they undertake AI in Norway at NTNU and at their industry partners.

Twelve masters and PhD students from NTNU will have a 6-12 month applied research internship at Waterloo.AI, its research networks and industry partners. The program planning begins in the winter of 2023.

This exchange intends to grow international mobility pathways between these AI networks. “Through this initiative, the goal is to expand the AI talent pool to yield positive impacts that help improve the quality-of-life for people around the world,” says Godwin. “This research exchange will prove to be invaluable for years to come.”

For ter Woort, this unique project is an exciting testing ground for a bilateral mobility initiative integrating relevant WIL opportunities. The global pandemic drove the need for digital transformation. As a result, there continues to be rapid development in AI.

According to a recent article in Forbes, AI is helping companies develop new business models. For example, organizations can use AI technology to find trends that will attract the most customers. AI can also be used to design and test concepts while checking performance parameters in real time. Various industries are developing new products using the predictive power of AI.

“AI is the future,” says ter Woort. “And Waterloo is on track to provide valuable thought leadership and innovations in AI through associated talent development of our co-op students.”

Project update:

In the fall 2023 and winter 2024 work terms, eight co-op students worked on AI projects with NTNU, SINTEF Digital and Cognite in Norway as part of the IWIL AI project. Some of the roles students held include front and backend developer for AI-supported learning platforms, software developer in AI research, social robotics programmer (AI) and AI specialist.