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Emory University to launch Center for AI Learning
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Ashlee Gardner
Instructor in front of class.

Cliff Carrubba, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor and chair in the Department of Quantitative Theory and Methods, Emory College of Arts and Sciences, speaks to a class during last summer's experiential learning DataThink project. The Center for AI Learning will begin offering research practicums this summer.

— Jenni Girtman

A new center focused on practical education and intellectual community in the rapidly developing era of artificial intelligence (AI) will soon launch at Emory University.

With full programming starting in fall 2023, the Center for Artificial Intelligence Learning will promote AI literacy across all units of the campus and provide co-curricular learning opportunities that equip the Emory community with the skills needed to thrive in a technology-focused future.

The Center is designed to be the locus of community for those interested in AI’s application to their area of interest, and to make AI learning ubiquitous on campus for all of Emory, no matter their area of study or status as a student, staff, alum or faculty member. To achieve this, the Center's offerings will fall under four pillars: skill-building, support services, experiential learning and community building.

Supported by the Office of the Provost, the Center is part of the university-wide AI.Humanity and Student Flourishing strategic initiatives. It will also partner with Emory Libraries to provide resources, expertise and programming collaborations.

“As we continue to hire new faculty and expand academic programs in the AI space, the Center for AI Learning will be essential to creating a tech-savvy community,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Emory University’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “It will be a nerve center that empowers our scholars and encourages collaboration in a new technological era. It’s not just for scientists and AI researchers — it’s for everyone. AI touches us all, so we all have a part to play in harnessing its power to improve the human condition.”

The Center's co-leaders, Cliff Carrubba, chair of the Department of Quantitative Theory and Methods in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Lance Waller, professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics in the Rollins School of Public Health, envision it as a connective tissue between curriculum and community.

By infusing AI throughout the university’s pedagogy and providing an environment in which all members of Emory University can collaborate on AI research and education, it will function as a home base for AI scholarship and training. The Center's programming supplements traditional academic programs and for-credit courses. It can serve staff members looking to use basic AI tools in university day-to-day operations, students wanting additional education in AI and faculty looking to enhance their courses and research.

“We see the Center for AI Learning as catalyzing existing academic programs and providing a multiplier effect to expand the impact of AI education at Emory,” says Carrubba. “The Center will also play an important role in creating a vibrant community of AI scholars while encouraging entry into AI curriculum for everyone, regardless of major, research focus or position.”

The Center’s core offerings will consist of year-round short courses and workshops available to the entire Emory community, beginning with research practicums for students this summer. A variety of topics will be covered from general AI literacy — including database basics, cloud computing and AI ethics — to more advanced topics such as data visualization and modeling, neural networks and bioinformatics. These shared training experiences will add to the growing interdisciplinary AI network across campus.

For those needing real-time support on AI-related projects, the Center will also provide help desk consulting staffed by undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to having AI experts available to answer questions and consult on projects, the Center will offer an online resource library, video tutorials and AI tools.

Experiential learning opportunities will be a cornerstone of the Center. Partnering with corporations, nonprofits, government organizations and research labs, students can apply the AI skills they learn in class to solve real-world challenges. These sponsored projects will allow students to explore the many and varied career paths that AI knowledge can open for them.

Finally, to build a robust community around AI and break down disciplinary barriers, the Center will host a named speaker series with AI experts from industry and partner institutions, individual school and department speakers and social activities that provide occasions for networking and collaboration.

While the Center for AI Learning will eventually have a physical space where students, faculty and staff can network and learn, much of the programming in 2023 will be available online, making it accessible to Emory audiences outside of the Atlanta campus. There are also plans to hire a permanent staff consisting of a director and a coordinator, and to launch a website, which will act as a central hub for programming information.

“By facilitating education, research and community, the Center for AI Learning will make Emory University a destination for students looking to use AI to solve problems and answer questions in service of humanity,” says Waller. “It will enhance the ability of Emory faculty to do work at the leading edge of AI and provide a venue for an intellectual community that crosses departments, schools, and beyond to the professional world.”

Meet the Center for AI Learning Advisory Board

The Center for AI Learning’s advisory board brings together a diverse group from the Emory community that includes members of the administration, faculty from a variety of schools, and student representatives. The board comprises:

Matthew Sag
Professor of Law, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Science, Emory University Law School

John Banja
Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and medical ethicist at the Center for Ethics

Anita Corbett
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor in the Department of Biology, Emory College of Arts and Sciences

David Benkeser
Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Rollins School of Public Health

Anant Madabhushi
Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University

Richard (Bo) Manly Adams, Jr.
Director of Pitts Theology Library and Margaret A. Pitts Assistant Professor in the Practice of Theological Bibliography, Candler School of Theology

Ting Li
Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, Oxford College

Kim Collins
Associate University Librarian, Research, Engagement, & Scholarly Communications Division, Emory University Libraries

Anandhi Bharadwaj
Vice Dean for Faculty and Research; Goizueta Endowed Chair in Electronic Commerce and Professor of Information Systems & Operations Management, Goizueta Business School

Sangmi Kim
Assistant Professor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Ex Officio Chairs:

Vaidy Sunderam
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor and chair in the Department of Computer Science, Emory College of Arts and Sciences

Robert Krafty
Rollins Professor and chair in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Rollins School of Public Health

Gari Clifford
Professor and chair in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, Emory University School of Medicine

Cliff Carrubba
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor and chair in the Department of Quantitative Theory and Methods, Emory College of Arts and Sciences

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