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DoD Launches Center of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at Howard University

On January 28, 2021, the Department of Defense (DoD), through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), launched a $7.5 million Center of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (COE-AI/ML) at Howard University. The COE-AI/ML will focus on developing and evaluating trustworthy, reliable, and robust ML algorithms and AI systems for mission critical applications.

A competition conducted through the DoD Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions (HBCUs/MSIs) Research and Education Program and administered by the Army Research Laboratory selected Howard University, an HBCU, to lead the research in developing AI/ML applications for multi-domain operations.

In support of the National Defense Strategy priorities, the COE-AI/ML will address current and future research and engineering challenges for safe, robust and trustworthy, AI for DoD’s modernization applications. By focusing on techniques for real-time response to rapid data changes, the Center will conduct five-year research projects examining AI/ML for Internet of Battlefield Things, electronic warfare, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, machine vision, and biotechnology. The COE-AI/ML includes a research collaboration with Old Dominion University that will enable the development of a computational model for trustworthy AI and further the exploration of deep learning for machine vision for multi-agent cooperative systems.

“The Department maintains a continued focus on enabling and accelerating the development of key AI/ML applications to support the DoD’s technology priorities,” said Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati, acting Deputy Director of the Office of Research, Technology, and Laboratories in OUSD(R&E). “Leveraging AI/ML research to explore deep neural networks and adversarial learning to combat cyber attacks allows the Department to address science and technology challenges unique to the Department while meeting our warfighter needs.”

In addition to the Center’s research objectives, the COE-AI/ML is dedicated to increasing the presence of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). “Alongside prioritizing AI/ML infrastructure for research, experimentation, and validation, STEM scholars and early-career faculty will receive integrated training by way of curriculum enhancements, summer outreach programs, and internships at defense laboratories to cultivate the next generation of STEM talent”, said Ms. Evelyn Kent, Director of HBCU/MSI Program in OUSD(R&E).

Centers of Excellence provide a unique opportunity to sharpen fundamental research while also primarily focusing on promoting a new generation of STEM leaders. These collaborative partnerships encourage scholars to conduct research in scientific disciplines critical to national security and aids the Department in achieving our STEM workforce goals.

The DoD officially announced the COE-AI/ML award to Howard University on October 1, 2020, along with three other COEs under the HBCU/MSI Program, including at Tuskegee University, Delaware State University, and University of California, Riverside.

Click the link for more information on the DoD HBCU/MSI Program.

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