Amazon and University of Washington announce new Science Hub fellows and research awards
Ongoing collaboration includes Amazon joining the UW Center for the Future of Cloud Infrastructure.
Amazon and the University of Washington (UW) have collaborated for decades, ranging from learning opportunities for students to support for faculty and capital support. In 2022, Amazon and UW founded the UW-Amazon Science Hub.
The Science Hub today announced the second cohort of Amazon Fellows. Fellowships are awarded annually to PhD students enrolled in the UW College of Engineering, with the students receiving funding to pursue independent research projects in robotics and adjacent areas in AI. The awardees are
- Taewan Kim, a third-year PhD student in the William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, advised by Behçet Açikmeşe, professor of aerospace optimization and control and adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering. Kim’s current research lies at the intersection of control theory, optimization, and machine learning, where he focuses on developing a closed-loop framework leveraging both control and learning theory to guarantee safety and stability for robots operating in uncertain environments.
- Chuning Zhu, a PhD student and member of the Washington Embodied Intelligence and Robotics Development (WEIRD) lab, advised by Abhishek Gupta, an assistant professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. Zhu uses deep reinforcement learning to build robots that autonomously acquire perception and manipulation skills by interacting with the physical world.
The UW-Amazon Science Hub today has also awarded gift research funding to five UW professors. Each gift funds a year-long project addressing a cutting-edge challenge in the field of robotics and AI innovation. Below are this year’s recipients and their research projects, which were reviewed by the UW Advisory Group and Amazon:
- Ashis G. Banerjee, associate professor, Industrial & Systems Engineering and Mechanical Engineering: “Decentralized visual mapping of cluttered scenes using a team of low-cost mobile robots”
- Mehmet Kurt, director of Kurtlab and assistant professor, Mechanical Engineering: “Damage level assessment in packages through transformer-based neural networks and sensitivity analysis”
- Nadya Peek, assistant professor, Human Centered Design & Engineering: “Robot pack-a-thon: Packing arbitrary objects with fabricatable flexural manipulators”
- Lillian Ratliff, associate professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and adjunct associate professor, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and Aeronautics & Astronautics: “Hierarchical framework for scalable multi-agent autonomous mobility”
- Simon Shaolei Du, assistant professor, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering: “Theoretically principled representation learning for multi-task reinforcement learning”
“I’m delighted by how the Science Hub has provided a vehicle to broaden and deepen the long-standing collaboration between UW and Amazon,” said UW president Ana Mari Cauce. “That collaboration continues to grow as we make progress toward solving fundamental problems in science and engineering for the benefit of people and communities in Washington and beyond, which aligns perfectly with UW’s public mission.”
“With the launch of the Amazon University Hubs program in 2020, we charted a course that would broaden access to emerging technologies by strengthening partnerships across academia and industry and provide demonstrable value to all constituents,” said Anu Datta, director of Strategic Recruiting and Academic Partnerships, Amazon. “We’re delighted by the momentum we’ve been able to generate together with UW in achieving this goal and look forward to seeing how the latest research projects and faculty awards help to solve complex, real-world problems.”
Amazon joins UW’s FOCI
At the launch of the Science Hub, Amazon and UW outlined how the scope of the collaboration would expand over time to represent additional research topic areas, with funding to support a broad set of programs.
As part of the ongoing collaboration, Amazon has joined the UW Center for the Future of Cloud Infrastructure (FOCI). Established in October 2022 and housed within the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, FOCI aims to foster a tight partnership between practitioners and researchers to define the next generation of cloud infrastructure. The center will cultivate stronger connections between academia and industry to enable cloud-based systems to reach new heights in security, reliability, performance, and sustainability.
Amazon will join the technical advisory board that informs and guides the center’s research toward real-world impact based on current trends, what problems they anticipate over a 5- to 10-year time horizon, and how solutions might be applied in practice.
“For nearly two decades, Amazon and UW have been at the epicenter of cloud computing innovation,” said Arvind Krishnamurthy, FOCI codirector and the Short-Dooley Professor in the Allen School. “Our evolving partnership will continue to leverage UW’s leadership in foundational computer systems research and Amazon’s expertise in building and deploying real-world applications on a global scale to define cloud computing for the next few decades.”
“Amazon Web Services has been at the forefront of cloud computing since 2006, and has continually accelerated innovation in hardware and software to support virtually any workload and unique customer use case,” said Rahul Pathak, vice president, Relational Database Engines, AWS. “With the potential of new, fast-moving technologies like generative AI, things will continue to change rapidly for academia, industry, and customers alike. We’re pleased to join FOCI and further collaborate with UW to help accelerate research and its applications into the next generation of cloud infrastructure and databases, analytics, and ML systems.”