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Wichita State Named to Federal AI Research Group

Wichita State is taking part in a $100 million, five-year federal initiative to advance artificial intelligence research and workforce development supported by the National Science Foundation.

by Michael Stavola, The Wichita Eagle / August 28, 2020

(TNS) — Artificial intelligence is playing an increasing role in people’s lives — helping diagnose illnesses and drive automated cars.

Now, Wichita State University could play a big role in how that technology evolves.

This week, WSU announced it would take part in a $100 million, five-year federal initiative to advance artificial intelligence research and workforce development. The National Science Foundation funds helped form five organizations, with each receiving $20 million, that will tackle different facets of AI. WSU will take part in the newly formed organization called the AI Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning, which will be based at University of Texas -Austin and also include the University of Washington and Microsoft Research.

Machine learning technology allows computers to learn and make predictions in complex environments.

WSU’s portion of the federal grant will be $700,000. Wichita State’s part will be mostly spearheaded by Dr. Kaushik Sinha, an associate professor at WSU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

“The primary focus of the AI Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning is to solve some of these fundamental questions over the next five years to ensure continued success of Machine Learning and AI over the next decade,” Sinha said in a statement.

Sinha will be one of 25 members on the machine learning team. He was invited to join because of his expertise in theoretical machine learning, which includes research in “next-generation algorithms for deep learning, neural architecture optimization and efficient robust statistics,” according to the release.

The five groups that formed from the science foundation dollars are each made up of people from different organizations.

“In effect, over the next five years, some of the best minds in the country will be tackling some of the grandest challenges that we face, both in terms of new AI techniques as well as breakthroughs in fields of science and engineering and sectors of our economy,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said in the release. “And along the way, they will nurture the future American workforce in AI research and practice.”

In Wichita, the grant will help fund opportunities for college students and area high schoolers to learn about AI.

“The National Science Foundation’s investment in artificial intelligence programs in universities will have a profound impact on our nation’s workforce and ensure the United States’ leadership in this field,” U.S. Rep. Ron Estes said in a statement. “Wichita State University has a proven track record of excellence in research and development of new technology. This investment will further expand learning opportunities and career choices for our students and increase and diversify talent in Kansas’ workforce.”

©2020 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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