NSF Artificial Intelligence Grant


LA JOLLA, CALIF. (August 2, 2021) — As part of an initiative to establish a series of artificial intelligence research institutes nationwide, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $20 million grant to a partnership of prestigious universities led by University of California, San Diego, and including National University, Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Working together, the universities will form The Institute for Learning-enabled Optimization at Scale (TILOS). The five-year research partnership will focus on the optimization of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. They will work closely with industry leaders to develop optimization tools that will enable real-world improvements in key industries, including chip design, robotics, and communications networks.

National University faculty will work with TILOS partners in workforce development and education to update and create career-relevant courses and modules in AI aimed at the growing population of adult learners served by the San Diego-based nonprofit institution, including career professionals, members of the military community, and underserved students in STEM).

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with such incredible institutions on an initiative that directly serves our greater mission as an organization to prepare students today for the jobs of tomorrow,” said National University System Chancellor and Interim President of National University Dr. Michael R. Cunningham.

National University, San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, that boasts a 50-year history of serving working adult learners, educators, and Veterans, will receive $100,000 a year for five years to support faculty members working on the project, students, and equipment/software. NU is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and is a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with some of the most prestigious universities in the world to create state-of-the-art curriculum and bring AI and optimization to National University’s students,” said NU Associate Dean for the College of Law and Public Service, Dr. Jodi Reeves. She will serve as the Associate Director for Education and Workforce for TILOS.

With the rapid advance of technology, the existing workforce must update skills more and more frequently. Veterans, people seeking career changes, and underserved populations need opportunities to learn these new skills. National University, a designated Hispanic Serving Institution and member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, as well as the rest of the TILOS partnership intend to build an openly accessible program of continuing education with long-term, lifelong learning and skills renewal as its central tenet. New courses will focus on computing, AI optimization, robotics, networking and chip design. The program also will feature a community outreach element to raise awareness and encourage interest in AI-related careers among non-traditional and underserved learners.

“Being chosen to be part of an institute sponsored by the NSF is a lifetime goal. As professors we are honored and humbled,” said Dr. Esmaeil Atashpaz-Gargari, one of two Principal Investigators from the Department of Engineering and Computing at NU.

In an announcement on July 29, the NSF awarded a total of $220 million to 11 different partnerships as part of the National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes Program. Each institute will receive approximately $20 million to pursue research around the practical application of AI and machine intelligence in a wide range of fields and industries, including engineering, education, agriculture and cyber security. TILOS also will be partially supported by Intel Corporation.

“Our mission at National University is to serve the public good. To take this initiative nationwide with such esteemed partners is an incredible opportunity” said Dr. Shatha Jawad, the second Principal Investigator at NU.

About National University

National University(NU), a Veteran-founded nonprofit, has been dedicated to meeting the needs of hard-working adults by providing accessible, affordable, achievable higher education opportunities since 1971. As San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, NU offers over 75 online and on-campus programs and flexible four-week courses designed to help students reach their goals while balancing busy lives. Since its founding, the NU community has grown to over 25,000 students and 230,000 alumni alumni around the globe, many of whom serve in helping industries such as business, education, health care, cybersecurity, and law and criminal justice. Learn more at NU.edu.

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