Border leaders hope to draw tech companies with new Center for Artificial Intelligence

News

Microsoft, state of Chihuahua invest heavily in digital skills training facility in Juarez's industrial area

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Millions of workers worldwide have learned the value of digital skills as the COVID-19 pandemic forces them to work from home.

Now, a partnership of government, academic and industry leaders want maquiladora workers in the state of Chihuahua to become digitally savvy and draw the attention of high-tech companies currently off-shoring software design to places like India and Asia.

“We have some of the most important design companies already here, and other maquilas are beginning to incorporate (software) design into their processes. More than assembly-hand labor, they’re now requiring specialized workers with digital skills,” said Eduardo Castillo, director of Juarez’s new Center for Artificial Intelligence.

Funded by the state of Chihuahua and grants from Microsoft, the center located near the Bermudez Industrial Park this month inaugurated its building and is getting ready to go online with the first cadre of 296 students.

The pupils are engineers and technical workers picking up additional skills in data analysis, cloud computing, blockchain storage and internet-of-things devices. They’re also university students tasked with the long-term enticing and training of Juarez high school students into robotics, computer science and programming.

Such a skilled labor force is likely to draw major investments in the region by international high-tech companies in the future, and leaders on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are excited.

“The development of this AI Center initiative is a tremendous step forward as we look to train and recruit the workers of the future,” said Jon Barela, CEO of El Paso’s Borderplex Alliance. “We are seeing a number of technology companies looking at our region to eventually bring jobs and opportunities for our residents. We are very excited.”

Juarez’s new Center for Artificial Intelligence (Courtesy photo)

Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral said the transition from traditional to high-tech manufacturing is a logical next step as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement goes into effect.

His administration is pitching in $3.3 million — including the building — for the Juarez center and other capital for technology training in four other cities in the state. In addition to teaching, the governor hopes companies and universities use the meeting rooms and shops at these centers for team projects that will result in software design and patents.

Castillo said the AI Center’s board of directors includes maquiladora executives.

“We want industry to tell us what type of labor force they need so they can develop better products and be more competitive worldwide. This link (in the board of directors) will better guide us to provide workers the abilities that industry will need from them,” he said.

Microsoft invests in Juarez

Javier Murillo, founder and CEO of the AI Center, says the institution has received two grants from Microsoft and is expecting a third one.

Javier Murillo, founder and CEO of Juarez’s Center for Artificial Intelligence (Julian Resendiz/Border Report)

The first grant went toward developing a robotics program for high school students. The second was to teach Python programming language to university students.

The third has to do with bringing work teams from industries or entrepreneurs to work on projects with Microsoft software and support.

The grants are part of Microsoft’s $1.1 billion commitment to developing digital technology in Mexico, and Juarez is one of three cities where the Washington state-based multinational wants to foster regional data centers.

“We want to equip every Mexican with the skills and technology required for the jobs of tomorrow. As such, we are investing on new training labs and skilling programs for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said when he announced the investment last February.

Visit the BorderReport.com homepage for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news about issues along the United States-Mexico border.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News