Colleges Race to Hire and Build for AI
Inside Higher Ed’s Susan D’Agostino’s recent article, Colleges Race to Hire and Build Amid AI ‘Gold Rush’, was as thoroughly researched and thought provoking as any of her previous publications. In fact, I decided to paraphrase the article and use the facts she presented as a baseline for tracking and updating college and university initiatives to keep up with or get ahead of the AI trend. What that means is that I will update this piece periodically when I hear of additional initiatives worth noting.
Ms. D’Agostino notes that computer scientists willing to teach are in “short supply” and “innovation’s trajectory is rarely predictable.” She quotes ed tech analyst Phil Hill as stating “’it’s a gold rush where you don’t know where the gold mine is or how to get the gold.’” While that may be true, Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL) has been a center of excellence for AI research since 1963, a contrast to the new institutes that are being funded.
- The University of Albany will hire 27 new faculty members, all specializing in AI, the largest cluster hire in the institution’s history. The 27 hires will span 20 departments in eight schools and colleges. Twelve will hail from computer science, data science and related areas. The remainder will draw from fields not typically associated with AI.
- Purdue University will recruit 50 new AI faculty for its physical AI initiative.
- Emory University will hire between 60 and 75 new faculty including an endowed chair for its AI Humanity Initiative. No more than 20 percent of the anticipated new faculty members will be computer scientists. The institution plans to embed artificial intelligence in areas such as health, social justice, business and law, and the arts and sciences.
- The University of Southern California will hire 90 new faculty members for its $1 billion Frontiers of Computing initiative focusing on AI.
New Schools and/or New Buildings
- University of Southern California will build a new seven-story building and establish a new School of Advanced Computing.
- University of Florida will establish a new Artificial Intelligence Academic Initiative Center as a focal point for all things AI on campus.
- Oregon State University will build a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence research center with a supercomputer and a cyberphysical playground.
- Georgia Tech will lead a statewide AI initiative (backed with $65 million) that includes transforming one of its facilities into the Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Pilot Facility.
- National Science Foundation has provided $140 million to start seven new national artificial intelligence research institutes at U.S. colleges and universities. Each institute has a specific agenda:
- Trustworthy AI at the University of Maryland
- Intelligent agents for next-generation cybersecurity at the University of California, Santa Barbara
- Climate-smart agriculture and forestry at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
- Neural and cognitive foundations of artificial intelligence at Columbia University
- AI for societal decision-making at Carnegie Mellon University
- AI-augmented learning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Universal speech and language screening for children at the University of Buffalo
- University of Tennessee at Knoxville created the AI Tennessee Initiative, a multidisciplinary approach that extends beyond academe to include industry partners, community organizations, and other stakeholders.
- University of Albany announced a $200 million Albany Artificial Intelligence Supercomputing Initiative or Albany AI. The state of New York committed $75 million in funding for this initiative.
- Purdue University launches nation’s first Institute for Physical AI.
New AI academic programs
- Houston Community College will offer four-year degree programs, both focused on AI – in applied technology in artificial intelligence and robotics and in applied science in health care management.
- Rochester Institute of Technology will offer a new interdisciplinary graduate degree that aims to prepare well-rounded AI professionals.
- The New Jersey Institute of Technology will launch two new AI graduate programs to address the increasing demand for qualified AI engineers and analysts.
- Palm Beach State College will launch a new AI program – and hopes to open a graduate school that includes AI courses.
- University of Texas at Austin will offer an online master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence through edX.
At the time that I wrote about the UT Austin AI degree, I noted that Study Portals listed 126 online master’s degrees in artificial intelligence. I don’t plan to track degrees in artificial intelligence as much I hope to track initiatives to teach (and train, perhaps) students how to use AI in their professions. From my perspective, initiatives like those at the University of Albany, Georgia Tech, Emory, Purdue, and the University of Southern California are more notable for their goal of incorporating AI into wide curricular changes as well as the workforce. While skeptics have a right to share their concerns about whether the AI trend is hyped up too much, in my opinion, it’s too important to ignore.
As I wrote earlier, I’ll use the initiatives mentioned by Ms. D’Agostino as a baseline and update them from time to time.