University-Industry Engagement Week

Purdue launches Institute of Hard AI as it seeks industry partners and enhances workforce development


By David Schwartz
Published: June 21st, 2022

Purdue University’s College of Engineering has formed the Institute of Hard AI in a bid to position the school as a national leader in artificial intelligence at the interface of the virtual and physical worlds, while also attracting industry partnerships and building up AI-related workforce development efforts.

Guided by a top-tier alumni advisory board, the institute will combine research, teaching and commercialization in three areas:

AI hardware: Future AI applications will place huge demands on computing platforms, requiring advances in function-specific AI hardware. Autonomous and connected systems, energy generation/distribution, health care and smart agriculture are examples of systems that will require specially designed AI chips. The new institute will focus on a unique algorithm-to-hardware co-design approach, addressing challenges at all levels: algorithms, system architecture, circuits and devices.

AI of hard stuff: AI is increasingly dispersed through edge computing, where computation, communication and control all move closer to the end users and are dispersed in a distributed, variable, highly constrained and underorganized computing substrate. This brings new challenges to the design of AI systems, including hardware heterogeneity, robustness and the need for extreme energy efficiency – all areas where Purdue boasts some of the world’s leading experts.

AI for physical things: When AI is used for decisions at the interface of virtual-physical worlds, the criteria for success change — for example, responsiveness and safety matter no less than accuracy and throughput in areas like autonomous trucks, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and nuclear reactor operation.

The institute will conduct cutting-edge research; offer courses related to hard AI for both industry and academia, including a minor degree in AI for physical applications; present a distinguished lecture series; engage in industry partnerships; create pathways for student-industry networking and career development; and promote technology commercialization. 

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Kaushik Roy will serve as director of the institute. “From smart self-driving cars to smart homes, even smarter manufacturing to smart agriculture, AI systems will profoundly change the way we live by enabling transformative solutions to societal-scale challenges that we face,” Roy said. “To bring that future forward, the Institute of Hard AI will coalesce Purdue Engineering’s world-leading strength in hardware design, cognitive computing, learning algorithms and the Internet of Things, shaping bold advances in state-of-the-art AI systems. Our relentless focus will be on real-world impact driven by an aggressive and targeted research road map, unique workforce development and comprehensive partnerships with industry, federal and state government agencies to spur economic activity.”

Source: Purdue Research News

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week