Master’s in AI at FAU becomes more accessible to low-income students

SOURCE: Robyn Beck / AFP
Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science have received a $1 million grant from the NSF to make the Master’s degree in AI accessible to high-achieving, low-income students.


By U2B Staff 

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a four-year, $1 million grant to researches from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science to fund a project that aims to improve student access to Master’s in AI.

The project will make FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science‘s master’s degree in AI programme more accessible to high-achieving, low-income students.

Through this initiative, the university will identify college juniors with strong academic records with GPAs of 3.4 or higher in all engineering fields.

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Master’s students who qualify for the award will receive financial support of up to $10,000 for the academic year.

These master’s programmes are designed to adapt curricular and co-curricular support to enable students to complete their degrees in AI, autonomous systems, or machine learning.

These areas were selected as they are critical for the advancement of America’s global competitiveness and national security.

“This new and innovative programme will offer an alternative pathway that is accessible to exceptional students and provides them with the ability to earn a master’s degree in a high-impact, highly-desirable and high-paying field,” said Javad Hashemi, associate dean for research in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.

This project addresses the need to develop a more diverse STEM research population and aims to increase the number of high-achieving, low-income students enrolled in engineering programmes.

Additionally, the project seeks to develop a framework for enhancing post-secondary infrastructure in terms of coordinating support services to improve the impact on diverse groups of students.

Dean of FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and a co-principal investigator of the grant, Stella Batalama, PhD., “Artificial intelligence is transforming every walk of life from business to healthcare and enabling us to rethink how we analyse data, integrate massive amounts of information and make informed decisions that impact society, the economy, and governance.”

Batalama added that the grant awarded by the NSF will allow the university to “recruit and train talented and diverse students who are economically disadvantaged and provide them with a unique opportunity to pursue graduate education in an exciting and burgeoning field.”

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According to the press release, the project team is spearheaded by Dimitris A. Pados, Ph.D., principal investigator, a professor in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a fellow of FAU’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems (I-SENSE), the Charles E. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in Engineering and director of the Center for Connected Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence.

Pados is nationally renowned in the areas of autonomous systems, machine learning, and AI applications to communication networks.

Commenting on the launch of this project, Pados said, “Students in our new programme will be organised in cohorts to promote a goal-oriented and supportive environment that results in persistence to complete a bachelor’s degree in science and pursue a graduate degree in artificial intelligence,”

“This multi-year experience will broaden their awareness of the many avenues available for support and provide a rich opportunity to work with and learn from a number of mentors comprised of graduate students and faculty throughout our college with expertise in various fields,” he added.