Georgia Tech Joins the U.S. National Science Foundation to Advance AI Research and Education
Jul 29, 2021 — Atlanta, GA
For decades, the Georgia Institute of Technology has focused on advancing artificial intelligence through interdisciplinary research and education designed to produce leading-edge technologies. Over the next five years, Georgia Tech will make a substantial investment in AI that includes hiring an additional 100 researchers in the field, further solidifying its standing as a leader in the teaching and discovery of machine learning.
Today, Georgia Tech received two National Science Foundation (NSF) Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes awards, totaling $40 million. A third award for $20 million was granted to the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), with Georgia Tech serving as one of the leading academic institutions.
“It is essential that we bring together our best minds to ensure that AI delivers on its promise to create a more prosperous, sustainable, safe, and fair future for everyone,” said Ángel Cabrera, president of Georgia Tech. “These NSF awards recognize Georgia Tech’s vast expertise in machine learning and AI and will help us further develop our resources and amplify our impact in these crucial fields.”
Chaouki T. Abdallah, executive vice president for Research at Georgia Tech, concurred, citing major efforts under development to help create a more robust and inclusive future of AI, both on campus and beyond.
“We are incredibly grateful to the NSF for their investment and excited for the opportunities made possible because of this research,” he said. “At Tech, our mission is to advance technology and improve the human condition, catalyzing research that matters. We invested in a unified approach to interdisciplinary research aligned with industry relevance and societal impact, and these awards demonstrate a clear return on that strategy.”
Collectively, NSF made a $220 million investment in 11 new NSF-led Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes.
“I am delighted to announce the establishment of new NSF National AI Research Institutes as we look to expand into all 50 states,” said National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These Institutes are hubs for academia, industry, and government to accelerate discovery and innovation in AI. Inspiring talent and ideas everywhere in this important area will lead to new capabilities that improve our lives, from medicine to entertainment to transportation and cybersecurity, and position us in the vanguard of competitiveness and prosperity.”
Led by NSF, and in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Google, Amazon, Intel, and Accenture, the National AI Research Institutes will act as connections in a broader nationwide network to pursue transformational advances in a range of economic sectors, and science and engineering fields — from food system security to next-generation edge networks. In addition to Georgia Tech and GRA, the University of California San Diego, Duke University, Iowa State University, North Carolina State University, The Ohio State University, and University of Washington are the lead universities included in the 11 AI Institutes.
The AI Institutes at Georgia Tech
The three newly established Institutes will address societal challenges, including home care for aging adults; energy, logistics, and supply chains; sustainability; the widening gap in job opportunities; and changing needs in workforce development.
NSF AI Institute for Collaborative Assistance and Responsive Interaction for Networked Groups (AI-CARING) will seek to create a vibrant discipline focused on personalized, collaborative AI systems that will improve quality of care for the aging. The systems will learn individual models of human behavior and how they change over time and use that knowledge to better collaborate and communicate in caregiving environments. Led by Sonia Chernova, associate professor of interactive computing at Georgia Tech, the AI systems will help a growing population of older adults sustain independence, improve quality of life, and increase effectiveness of care coordination across the care network.
“The AI-CARING Institute builds on our existing strengths in AI and in technology for aging. It will create not only novel solutions, but a new generation of researchers focused on the interaction between the two,” said Charles Isbell, dean and John P. Imlay Jr. Chair in the College of Computing. “Our aim is to build cutting-edge technologies that improve the lives of everyone, and I can’t think of a better example than AI-CARING.”
NSF AI Institute for Advances in Optimization (AI4Opt) will revolutionize decision-making on a large scale – fusing AI and mathematical optimization into intelligent systems that will achieve breakthroughs that neither field can achieve independently. Additionally, it will create pathways from high school to undergraduate and graduate education and workforce development training for AI in engineering that will empower a generation of underrepresented students and teachers to join the AI revolution. Led by Pascal Van Hentenryck, A. Russell Chandler III chair and professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, AI4Opt will tackle use cases in energy, resilience and sustainability, supply chains, and circuit design and control.
“AI4Opt, with its focus on AI and optimization, will create new pathways for novel tools that allow better engineering applications to benefit society,” said Raheem Beyah, dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering and Southern Company Chair. “This will allow engineers to build higher quality materials, more efficient renewable resources, new computing systems, and more, while also reinforcing the field as a career path for diverse students. The new institute complements the College’s commitment to the integration of AI in engineering disciplines.”
NSF AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education (ALOE) will lead the country and the world in the development of novel AI theories and techniques for enhancing the quality of adult online education, making this mode of learning comparable to that of in-person education in STEM disciplines. Together with partners in the technical college systems and educational technology sector, ALOE will advance online learning using virtual assistants to make education more available, affordable, achievable, and ultimately more equitable. This Institute is led by the GRA, with support from Georgia Tech and the University System of Georgia (USG). Ashok Goel, professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, will serve as executive director.
“Online education for adults has enormous implications for tomorrow’s workforce,” said Myk Garn, a GRA senior advisor, assistant vice chancellor for New Models of Learning at the USG, and ALOE’s principal investigator. “Yet, serious questions remain about the quality of online learning and how best to teach adults online. Artificial intelligence offers a powerful technology for dramatically improving the quality of online learning and adult education.”
The Future of AI at Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech is poised to strategically reimagine the future of AI. Currently, 66% of Georgia Tech undergraduate computer science students have an academic concentration in Intelligence, focusing on the top-to-bottom computational models of intelligence. The College of Computing’s recently launched Ph.D. program in machine learning pulls from faculty in all six colleges across the Institute, and many new courses are being developed that teach AI as a tool for science and engineering. Georgia Tech is exploring the potential creation of a school or college of AI within the next five years, further building on its expansive AI and machine learning footprint. The NSF AI Institutes awards will enable all AI-related academic programs to scale and further differentiate Georgia Tech as a leader in AI education.
Additionally, the awards will expand and complement ongoing AI research efforts at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). In the last fiscal year, GTRI received millions of dollars in research awards from the Department of Defense and other sponsors for AI-affiliated research, and currently, many GTRI researchers are focused on AI-affiliated projects.
“As part of Georgia Tech, GTRI will greatly benefit from the advances in AI that will be achieved as a result of these NSF-funded Institutes, helping us further excel in our aim to deliver leading-edge AI research that benefits national security,” said Mark Whorton, GTRI’s chief technology officer. “GTRI is one of the nation’s leading institutes of applied research for national security specifically because of our deep engagement and close affiliation with the academic units of Georgia Tech. AI is a tool we use in conducting larger research objectives, and we believe strongly that these AI Institutes will enable GTRI to put more research into practice.”
“Georgia Tech has for decades now been pursuing new AI technologies, and now leads the way in AI that is responsible to the needs of the humans who use it,” Isbell said. “We have also worked hard to expand access to AI, especially for underrepresented groups. These Institutes will build on that history, expanding both our ability to create new technologies and to train the next generation of innovators. I look forward to watching them grow and develop.”
About the Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is a top 10 public research university developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its nearly 40,000 students, representing 50 states and 149 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.
About the National Science Foundation
The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments, and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities, and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.
About the Georgia Research Alliance
The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) helps Georgia’s university scientists do more research and start more companies. By expanding research and entrepreneurship capacity at public and private universities, GRA grows the Georgia economy by driving more investment in the state, developing a high-tech workforce, and strengthening Georgia’s reputation for innovation. For 30 years, GRA has worked in partnership with the University System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Economic Development to create the companies and jobs of Georgia’s future. Visit GRA.org for more information.
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Ashok Goel, executive director of ALOE
Map of the United States reflecting the location of the Artificial Intelligence National Research Institutes led by the U.S. National Science Foundation, including lead and principal organizations, and funded and unfunded partners and collaborators. Credit: U.S. National Science Foundation.