OCTOBER 16, 2023 — The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $2.8 million to researchers from MATRIX: The UTSA AI Consortium for Human Well-Being to bolster research capacity in the field of neuro-inspired artificial intelligence. Neuro-inspired AI stands as a strategic research area at UTSA, with researchers leveraging insights from the human brain to inform and advance artificial intelligence.
The funding will establish the ExpandAI Partner Institute, which is a collaboration between UTSA and the AI Institute for Edge Computing Leveraging Next-generation Networks (ATHENA). ATHENA is a multi-university and transdisciplinary center led by Duke University and funded by the NSF to amplify ongoing research, educational programs, and partnerships with minority-serving institutions like UTSA.
“This partner AI Institute will be the basis of a mutually beneficial collaboration between MATRIX and ATHENA,” said Dhireesha Kudithipudi, UTSA Robert McDermott Endowed Chair in Engineering and the founding director of MATRIX AI Consortium.
This graphic depicts the collaboration between UTSA and the AI Institute for Edge Computing Leveraging Next-generation Networks.
“Our shared goal is to produce resilient AI algorithms and hardware while nurturing the development of talented students through multiple forms of mentoring,” added Kudithipudi, who is the lead on the project.
The project is supported by a team of MATRIX thrust leads and UTSA faculty, including Amina Qutub, Gabriela Ciocarlie, Panagiotis Markopolous, Murtuza Jadliwala, Fidel Santamaria, and Itamar Lerner.
In this collaboration between MATRIX and ATHENA, researchers will develop AI technologies that prioritize societal impact and the cultivation of the next generation of AI educators and workforce talent. Rooted in inspiration drawn from the human brain, researchers will craft computational models and engineer AI systems for edge devices.
Over the course of four years, the project will provide support for approximately 28 graduate fellows and 10 faculty members from both organizations. Additionally, around 100 students will be able to participate in various research and educational activities.
Yiran Chen, director of the NSF AI Institute ATHENA, expressed enthusiasm about the mutually beneficial collaboration with UTSA.
“This ExpandAI partnership is a transformative endeavor that addresses critical educational and research needs in AI, particularly in underserved communities. The ATHENA team members at Duke are enthusiastic about dedicating their expertise to this remarkable project and eagerly anticipate a productive and mutually beneficial collaboration with the colleagues at UTSA,” Chen said.
James Donlon, program director at NSF, highlighted the significance of the ExpandAI Program within the AI Institutes Program, which expands the nationwide network of AI Research Institutes focusing on new methods for strengthening AI. He emphasized NSF's commitment to fostering a diverse interdisciplinary research community for the advancement of AI and AI-powered innovation.
“We are proud of this new partnership for exemplifying the potential for AI Institutes to broaden their impact as nexus points for collaborative efforts and for the whole research community to join in advancing collaboration in AI research, education, and workforce development through new partnerships,” Donlon said.
The research effort comprises four key thrusts:
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