The Fitzpatrick Center at Duke University

AI for Product Innovation Courses

Our novel curriculum gives students the skill set they need to build innovative AI-based products and systems

Pre-Program Preparation

AIPI 503: Python Programming & Data Science Math Boot Camp

The four-week online boot camp is designed to help students build proficiency in the use of Python for Data Science. It covers foundational concepts and also provides hands-on experience with critical skills including loading, cleaning, manipulating, visualizing, analyzing and interpreting data. Upon completion of this course, students will be in a position to use their skills to identify, formulate and solve some practical data analysis problems.

The first two modules will provide an introduction to basic Python.  From there, the class will focus on building proficiency with three critical for Data Science Python libraries (Numpy, Pandas, Matplotlib).  The final module will focus on a review of probability and statistics with an emphasis on simulation of chance experiments. Topics for this last module will include discrete distributions, continuous density functions, combinatorics, conditional probabilities and a final review of important densities and functions.

Students who are proficient in Python as well as the data science libraries covered will have the option to test out of the bootcamp.

Technical Core

AIPI 510: Sourcing Data for Analytics

In industry, one of the main activities, and challenges, of implementing machine learning applications are collecting data to use in modeling. This course introduces students to both the technical and non-technical (business, regulatory, ethical) aspects of collecting, cleaning, and preparing data for use in machine learning applications. The first segment of the course will be an introduction to numerical programming focused on building skills in working with data via the Numpy and Pandas libraries, two of the most common tools used by teams working with data and modeling. Technical aspects covered will include the types of data, methods of sourcing data via the web, APIs, and from domain-specific sensors and hardware (IoT devices), an increasingly common source of analytics data in technical industries. The course also introduces methods and tools for evaluating the quality of data, performing basic exploratory data analysis, and pre-processing data for use in analytics. Non-technical aspects covered include an introduction to data privacy, GDPR, regulatory issues, bias, and industry-specific concerns regarding data usage.

AIPI 520: Modeling Process & Algorithms

This course is an introduction to the modeling process and best practices in model creation, interpretation, validation, and selection of models for different uses. The primary machine learning algorithms, both supervised and unsupervised, are introduced and explained with the necessary level of mathematical theory to establish students’ intuition for how each algorithm works. The primary focus will be on statistical learning approaches but it will also introduce deep learning and its applications. At the end of this course, students should have a solid understanding of the end-to-end modeling process and the different types of model algorithms along with the strengths, weaknesses, assumptions, and use cases for each type.  Students who have taken one or more prior machine learning courses in their undergraduate institution will have the option to take an additional technical elective instead of AIPI 520.

AIPI 530: Optimization in Practice

Optimization is the ultimate skill in artificial intelligence and prescriptive analytics allowing practitioners to generate the best actionable solutions for business needs. This class will give students required skills to mathematically formulate relevant business problems as optimization models, use leading software modeling syntax and solvers to generate optimum solutions and meaningfully interpret these solutions. We will use both SAS/Optmodel and Python/Pyomo to give student experience with proprietary and open-source optimization software. Focus will be on problem formulation and results interpretation.


AIPI 531: Deep Reinforcement Learning Applications

Deep Reinforcement Learning Applications will cover advanced sequential decision-making topics in AI and will consist of two parts 1) deep reinforcement learning theory and 2) deep reinforcement learning applications. The theory module will introduce students to major deep reinforcement learning algorithms, modeling process, and programming. The applications module will include case studies on the practical applications of deep reinforcement learning in industry. This is a project-based course with extensive Pytorch/Tensorflow hands-on exercises. 

AIPI 540: Deep Learning Applications

This course focuses on the primary use cases of deep learning to solve challenging problems particularly in the areas of computer vision, natural language processing and recommendation systems. Students will develop an understanding of both the mathematical theory and programmatic implementation of neural networks using Python.  The course includes significant hands-on team-based project work and an emphasis on self-discovery.  The semester will be split into three core modules: computer vision, NLP, and recommendation systems.  Each module will include lectures, assignments, a team project, and a review of recent research in the field. 

AI Operations Core

AIPI 501: Industry Seminar Series

Students will attend a weekly seminar series featuring industry leaders discussing the opportunities, challenges and learnings they have gained from applying AI to products and services in their industry. Speakers will present live in-classroom or via video conference.  The emphasis in the selection of speakers will be placed on representing more traditional industries that are poised to be disrupted by AI such as agriculture, health care/biotech, energy and environment, and manufacturing.  The seminar series will reinforce the concepts learned in the core courses and expand students’ intuition for the opportunities to apply AI within more complex and/or traditional industries.

AIPI 560: Legal, Societal & Ethical Implications of AI

Deploying AI within products and services has implications well beyond the technical considerations, which often include change management of operational workflows or staffing levels, data privacy considerations, bias risks and other ethical implications, and industry-specific regulations on the use of data and models operationally.  This course will introduce students to the key areas of consideration when deploying products that contain AI:

  1. Legal implications and industry regulation
  2. Ethical considerations
  3. Change management and organizational/societal implications

Case studies will be used extensively to provide real-world examples.

AIPI 561: Operationalizing AI (MLOps)

Deploying AI in production requires consideration of factors such as online model training, scaling, integration with software/hardware products, monitoring/support, security and failure resiliency.  This course introduces students via real-world case studies to methods and best practices in deploying AI operationally within products and services, including both technology and support infrastructure considerations. The course will also introduce available technologies for working with Big Data in industries that require specialized infrastructure and tools due to the volume of data.

Management Core

MENG 540: Management of High-Tech Industries

Decision making in complex environments; emphasis on project analysis, complex investment analyses, strategic decision making where outcomes depend on high technology, and the role of decisions in product development. Management in high tech firms; emphasis on management of professionals, management of project-based and team-based organizational structures, and the role of the manager in expertise-driven organizations.

MENG 570: Business Fundamentals for Engineers

This comprehensive course examines core and evolving concepts in the business fundamentals of successful technology-based companies including Business Plan Development & Strategies, Marketing, Product & Process Development processes, Intellectual Property, Accounting, Finance, and Operations. Students will learn the fundamentals essential to understanding all aspects of a business and will be able to converse in some depth in each of the areas studied upon completion. Other topics will include Supply Chain Management, Stage-Gate Development Cycles, Balances Scorecards, Blue Ocean Strategy, and Disruptive Technologies.

Elective Options

Note: In addition to the courses listed below, students in this master's degree program may take other graduate-level elective courses within Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, on a space-available basis.

Technical Track

AIPI 590: Data Analysis at Scale in the Cloud

This course is designed to give students a comprehensive view of cloud computing including Big Data and Machine Learning. A variety of learning resources will be used including interactive labs on Cloud Platforms (Google, AWS, Azure). This is a project-based course with extensive hands-on assignments.


BME 580: Biomedical Data Science

This course will teach a combination of theory and application of biomedical data science principles using multi-scale biomedical data; including multi-omics, wearable sensor, and electronic health records data. Basic principles of data mining, exploratory data analysis, and statistics will be reviewed, and students will be introduced to supervised and unsupervised machine learning and model evaluation and selection methods. Methodology learned in classes will be applied in the assignments and class project to real-world multi-omics, wearable sensor, and electronic health records data.


AIPI 531: Deep Reinforcement Learning Applications

This course will cover advanced sequential decision-making topics in AI and will consist of two parts: 1) deep reinforcement learning theory and 2) deep reinforcement learning applications. Deep reinforcement learning combines reinforcement learning and deep learning. The theory module will introduce students to major deep reinforcement learning algorithms, modeling process, and programming. The applications module will include case studies on the practical applications of deep reinforcement learning in industry. This is a project-based course with extensive Pytorch/Tensorflow hands-on exercises. Students will also have an opportunity to improve their GitHub profile by working on projects.


ECE 564: Mobile App Development

Explores the world of mobile application development with a focus on the needs of engineers. Centered on the Apple environment, with the development environment being on OS X and the target environment being an iOS device- iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Apple Watch. Real-world- and context-focused on the common programming patterns for engineers in academia or business- standalone apps, apps connected to other systems, apps connected to the cloud. Covers fundamentals essential to understanding all aspects of app development. Taught in a team environment. Students are required to present their project proposals and deliver an app as a final project. 


CYBERSEC 511: Cybersecurity in the Software Development Lifecycle

Teaches students about all steps of the software development lifecycle and the role Cybersecurity design principles play in requirements definition, design, development, testing, and maintenance. Tools and techniques to provide software security analysis and software assurance will be explored including software reverse engineering.


CYBERSEC 520: Applying Machine Learning to Advance Cybersecurity

The use of machine learning and AI is becoming more prevalent for collecting and analyzing data as its consolidation increases in value. Cyberattacks seek to steal, deny access, misrepresent (such as deepfakes), or compromise the privacy of information. Students will explore the power of machine learning and AI’s use in enhancing Cybersecurity tools across the NIST Framework and also in detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities in timeframes and ways heretofore unthinkable.


ECE 682D: Probabilistic Machine Learning

Introduction to concepts in probabilistic machine learning with a focus on discriminative and hierarchical generative models. Topics include directed and undirected graphical models, kernel methods, exact and approximate parameter estimation methods, and structure learning.  The course assumes a prior background in linear algebra and probability & statistics.


Technology Management Track

EGRMGMT 590-03: Software, Solution & Enterprise Architecture

Students learn the concepts and principles about how a software system is constructed at the highest level. Software architecture is the fundamental design of the entire system. It defines what elements are included in the system, what function each element has, and how each element relates to one another. In short, it is the big picture or overall structure of the whole system, how the enterprise technology system works together. Having a clear design of the overall system as a starting point helps to provide a solid basis for developers to follow and it allows higher productivity and software quality. Students immerse themselves into architecture understanding from multiple perspectives through various UML diagrams including different software architectures frameworks, when and how they are used, their advantages and disadvantages. Software architecture is tied to many practical business concerns. These include the skills and organization of the software engineering team, the needs of the business, the development cycle, and the intent of the software itself.  


EGRMGMT 590-05: Software Business Management

In today’s world software is pervasive in most if not all companies.  A software business is a commercial activity aimed at producing, buying, and selling software products or services.  Well-run software companies are known for their high profit margins. This course will focus on understanding the key success factors for software organizations to drive their portfolio strategy by mapping out monetization models, pricing, vendor management, professional services, development & continuous delivery, road mapping & maintenance.


CYBERSEC 521: Cybersecurity Program Development, Operations & Analysis

Students will examine the life cycle of a cybersecurity program from development, administration, evaluation, and improvement processes. Operational and strategic roles including the chief information security officer (CISO) in a representative security team will be studied and current and evolving areas where the team is placed in the enterprise. Best practices and models for how a security team’s performance can be measured will be learned with some real-world examples.



EGRMGMT 560: Project Management

Projects are one of the key mechanisms for achieving organizational goals and implementing change, whether it is the design and launch of a new product, the construction of a new building, or the development of a new information system. This course will focus on defining project scope, developing project plans, managing project execution, validating project performance and ensuring project control. Additional topics covered include decision making, project finance, project portfolio selection, and risk management


EGRMGMT 575: Software Quality Management

This class will introduce students to five different business personas that play a key role in the software development lifecycle—customer, software engineer, software release/quality manager, customer support engineer, and general manager. The students will better appreciate the perspectives that each of these personas brings to their role and how that affects the "delivered" quality that customers actually experience. The course will also help students understand how to assess customer business outcomes, expectations and measure customer experience. Finally, the class will provide exposure to current industry practices and include guest speakers who can give real-world examples relevant to software quality management


EGRMGMT 576: Design Thinking and Innovation

The success of established companies and entrepreneurial ventures depends upon their ability to identify customer needs and then develop products and services that meet these needs in an affordable and effective manner. A disciplined design thinking process leads to successful innovations, particularly with regard to value creation and market impact. Starting with an understanding of empathy, ethnography, and interviewing techniques, moving on to the iterative process of defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing, and then developing final designs, this course is a highly engaging opportunity for students to develop a deep set of skills in design thinking and innovation and includes current approaches such as agile development, biodesign, and lean startup.



Capstone Project

AIPI 549: Capstone Project

Students will work in teams of 3-5 to complete a Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence project for a company sponsor around a real-world problem or opportunity they are facing. The project will require students to put into practice many of the skills learned during the program, including both technical and non-technical.  Students will have the opportunity to engage directly with representatives from their company partner organization as well as receive guidance from Duke faculty members over the course of the project.  The capstone team will present their final deliverables to a sponsor panel and/or an external review panel.


Internship or Project

MENG 550: Master of Engineering Internship or Project

  • Internships are typically 8-12 weeks. The minimum hourly requirement for the internship is 320 hours, equivalent to 8 weeks, 40 hours per week. Projects require approval from the AIPI program director. Projects must fulfill the same learning objectives as internships. Although students are responsible for finding their own internship, Duke provides an experienced career development team to help with your search.

All internships/projects must:

  • Apply engineering principles to solving one or more problems outside the classroom environment
  • Define a problem and determine potential solutions
  • Appreciate the importance of organizational dynamics and work relationships
  • Practice professional communication both written and orally
  • Complement material presented in the AIPI courses
  • Include a self-assessment upon completion in AIPI 551

MENG 551: Master of Engineering Internship or Project Assessment

This assessment course is the culmination of your internship or project work. You will prepare a substantive assessment of your internship or project experience via a written report and/or oral presentation. A polished analysis should include:

  • Problem or task conducted
  • Challenges faced
  • Solutions incorporated
  • Workplace communication and interpersonal relationship critique
  • Individual performance review