Amazon and Virginia Tech launch AI and ML research initiative
Initiative will be led by the Virginia Tech College of Engineering and directed by Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering Naren Ramakrishnan.
Amazon and Virginia Tech today announced the establishment of the Amazon – Virginia Tech Initiative for Efficient and Robust Machine Learning.
The initiative will provide an opportunity for doctoral students in the College of Engineering who are conducting AI and ML research to apply for Amazon fellowships, and it will support research efforts led by Virginia Tech faculty members. Under the initiative, Virginia Tech will host an annual public research symposium to share knowledge with the machine learning and related research communities. And in collaboration with Amazon, Virginia Tech will co-host two annual workshops, and training and recruiting events for Virginia Tech students.
“This initiative’s emphasis will be on efficient and robust machine learning, such as ensuring algorithms and models are resistant to errors and adversaries,” said Naren Ramakrishnan, the director of the Sanghani Center and the Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering. “We’re pleased to continue our work with Amazon and expand machine learning research capabilities that could address worldwide industry-focused problems.”
“Virginia Tech is growing research and graduate programs in critical disciplines to meet the needs of industry and fuel the tech sector economy across the commonwealth and beyond,” said Julia Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering. “This new partnership with Amazon will fuel ongoing and future investment in research and education in AI-centric fields, and will provide important support for graduate students in these areas. We’re also excited to have engineering faculty and students working alongside industry leaders on these important technological advances and discoveries.”
“We are delighted to collaborate with Virginia Tech in launching this new initiative which brings together the top talent in our two organizations in a joint mission to achieve ground-breaking advances in robust machine learning,” said Prem Natarajan, Alexa AI vice president of natural understanding. “The proximity of this initiative to Amazon’s HQ2 will catalyze research efforts that leverage the depth of talent in the Northern Virginia area to address some of the most pressing challenges in AI.”
The two organizations have existing ties. Chandan Reddy, a Virginia Tech computer science professor, has worked as an Amazon Scholar since September 2020, and a student team from Virginia Tech — KnowledgeBot, led by faculty advisor Lifu Huang — is competing in the current Alexa Prize SimBot challenge.
Amazon in Virginia
Amazon’s 2018 decision to locate its HQ2 in Arlington, Va., created a natural opportunity for a collaboration with Virginia Tech as the school’s Innovation Campus is located in nearby Alexandria, Va.
In addition to HQ2, and the projected 25,000 jobs it will add, Amazon has invested more than $34 billion in the commonwealth since 2010. The company has also committed to power HQ2 with 100% renewable energy and has opened 14 solar farms across Virginia. The company worked with Arlington County officials to secure more affordable housing, committing $160 million to support lower income families.