The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Print Issues

Kahlert Initiative on Technology Teaches Students Digital Literacy

The 21 credit program offers students a chance to develop “highly relevant technological skills” and receive scholarship money.
Marco Lozzi
Chong Oh poses for a photo in the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sep. 21, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


In the spring of 2020, the University of Utah launched the Kahlert Initiative on Technology — a scholarship program focused on preparing any “undergraduate student to be digitally literate regardless of degree.”

The program was launched to provide students the opportunity to learn highly relevant technological skills in a simple and “easy-to-understand” format, according to the David Eccles School of Business website. During the course of the program, students will have the opportunity to participate in tech activities on campus, attend workshops, visit tech companies and join in tech competitions.

Students accepted into the program will receive a scholarship that will help pay for the seven courses and 21 credits required to complete the program and receive their Certificate in Digital Literacy.

Who should apply to the program?

Chong Oh, director of the Kahlert Initiative, said he wants students to understand that everyone is strongly encouraged to apply to the scholarship program, regardless of degree.

Accepted students will be able to choose from a large selection of classes to find which courses capture their interests. Whichever classes they choose will be completely introductory and won’t require prior skills in technology.

“A student who gets the certificate will not be an expert in tech,” Oh said. “They will not be a programmer, [but] what they will be is someone who is able to use technology in his or her existing job.”

Students should know the importance of gaining and understanding cutting-edge technologies, Oh said. He added technology skills are essential to gaining the best possible jobs after graduation, regardless of career.

“Knowledge of technology seems to be a skill that is very useful in helping students get good jobs,” he said. “For example, we have one student who is a dance major. She uses the skills she learned in this program to create high-quality dance videos and decide which moves are good.”

What can students expect to learn?   

Students in the program can choose to learn a variety of topics such as app design, big data, blockchain, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more.

Kaz Sinnott, president of the Kahlert Initiative student leadership, said the program is a wonderful opportunity that he hopes all students will take advantage of.

“The classes are fantastic and the professors are fantastic,” he said. “All of the classes are very educational and encompassing in multiple ways. They teach any technology skill you need to pursue your passions.”

Chong Oh poses for a photo in the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sep. 21, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle) (Marco Lozzi)

An emphasis on Artificial Intelligence

Out of the many classes offered in the program, there are two courses focused solely on teaching students the basics of AI.

The first class is titled AI and Machine Learning for Business. The second is Predictive Analytics for Business. They’re both taught out of the Information System department in the business school.

Tim Kapp is the professor for both AI courses. In spring 2024, he will be teaching the first class – Intro to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Kapp said the purpose of the class is not to teach computer science. The goal is to help any student, regardless of major, learn important AI skills to help them adapt to a changing world.

“We’re finally starting to see which jobs are going to be impacted by AI and how big that impact is going to be,” Kapp said. “The change is going to happen really fast, and those who are trained in AI are going to do really well. They’re going to have a superpower for the next ten years.”

Throughout the semester, students will be trained on how to use easy-to-learn tools such as ChatGPT, create advanced models through simpler tools and learn how to develop basic machine learning skills without taking a single coding class.

“My goal is to teach students that they can use AI without having to be developers,” Kapp said. “We teach stuff anyone can learn. But it’s just enough to help students build really advanced models.”

At the end of the course, the students are tasked with discovering a problem they want to solve with an AI product. Then, each student builds their own functioning prototype of the product.

“It doesn’t have to be complete,” Kapp explained. “We’re not launching an actual product, but students have to show a working, functional prototype of their product.”

In past semesters, students have built small robots to drive around the room, cameras to monitor ski aerials and a model to predict fashion trends. Kapp said two students even won a $10,000 contest for a camera they built.

But the course does not stay the same each semester. Thanks to rapid change in the AI industry, the material taught in the class evolves constantly.

Jeb Dean, the vice president of student leadership for the program, said there are many benefits of participating in the scholarship.

“It’s a changing industry as we speak,” he said. “The classes are adjusted each semester to stay up to date. But that means the topics are really relevant and applicable.”

Ultimately, Dean said he wants students to know that everyone is welcome and encouraged to apply to the Kahlert scholarship and find the technology courses that fit their passions.

“Something we really want to emphasize is that the courses are not just for STEM students,” he said. “It’s not about sitting down in a lecture hall and repeating what the professor tells you — it’s about exploring your passions and exploring how technology is involved in your future career.”


[email protected]


Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Jamie Faux, News Writer
(she/her) Jamie Faux began as a news reporter at the Daily Utah Chronicle in the summer of 2023. She is a double major in English and finance at the University of Utah with the goal of becoming an author after graduation. Jamie grew up in Provo and enjoys outdoor sports, reading, and traveling.
Marco Lozzi, Photographer
Born in Texas and raised by Italian parents, Marco Lozzi grew up with two vastly different cultures. Now a sophomore at the U, he is majoring in communication with a journalism emphasis while also minoring in photography and Italian. He joined the Chrony to gain experience working as a photojournalist for a larger entity. When he's not taking or editing photos, he can be found hitting the slopes, napping, or making pasta.

Comments (0)

We welcome feedback and dialogue from our community. However, when necessary, The Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to remove user comments. Posts may be removed for any of the following reasons: • Comments on a post that do not relate to the subject matter of the story • The use of obscene, threatening, defamatory, or harassing language • Comments advocating illegal activity • Posts violating copyrights or trademarks • Advertisement or promotion of commercial products, services, entities, or individuals • Duplicative comments by the same user. In the case of identical comments only the first submission will be posted. Users who habitually post comments or content that must be removed can be blocked from the comment section.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *