Campus & Community

How Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence Plans to Push the Boundaries of Technology

SIAI unites experts from different disciplines to solve complex social problems—and advance technology as they go

SIAI founding director K.P. Subbalakshmi speaking at the SIAI launch event
SIAI founding director K.P. Subbalakshmi shares her vision for the institute. CREDIT: Jeff Vock

On the heels of its successful launch, the Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) is excited to get down to business: applying artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to create solutions that make the world—and humanity—better.

SIAI is an interdisciplinary, tech-driven collaboration of more than 50 engineering, business, systems and design faculty members at Stevens working toward solving pressing global problems in industry and the world. It is an AI-focused incubator, drawing on the best faculty experts and resources Stevens has to offer to find collaborative solutions to big problems.

SIAI’s research focuses on nine key areas: art and music; cognitive computing and communications; cybersecurity; energy and environment; fintech; foundation of AI and machine learning; health and biomed; robotics, perception and human machine interaction, and; societal impact.

"I think we all grow when we learn to talk to people that are very different from us," says professor and SIAI founding director K.P. Subbalakshmi, "and that leads to interesting, positive, powerful things."

Those powerful things include out-of-the-box solutions to early detection of neurological and cardiac diseases, helping stroke patients recover from paralysis, monitoring underwater infrastructure, identifying rumors and fake news on social media, and even new mathematical models to train smarter AI—and those projects are only the beginning of what SIAI hopes to do.

Brendan Englot demonstrating his AI-driven underwater mapping robotics system at the SIAI launch.
ME assistant professor Brendan Englot demonstrating his AI-driven underwater mapping robotics system at the SIAI launch. CREDIT: Jeff Vock

"At Stevens we are very multidisciplinary and collaborative, and that is where the power in the Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence lies," says Subbalakshmi. "We have the agility to make collaborations happen faster, for whatever we need, whenever we need to."

Aside from that expertise and agility, SIAI is aided in its quest by Stevens’ deep commitment to advancing AI. Stevens is developing critical partnerships in AI as well as educational programs—including creating three new master’s programs beginning in spring 2019 and hiring more than a dozen new faculty members across Stevens’ four schools. The backing and support of the entire Stevens community provides SIAI with a strong foundation to spark change and make significant technological advancements.

Subbalakshmi’s goal for SIAI is to make it the place where academic researchers and industry partners in the region will go to solve complex problems that are much bigger than those that any single engineering discipline would be able to solve. To that end, the institute is building an industry affiliates program, forming partnerships between Stevens and foundations, and creating educational training programs including an upcoming doctorate in AI.

"Foundational concepts like artificial intelligence and machine learning gain from application because suddenly you have data to verify your theories that you didn’t have before because you’re now talking to these domain experts," she says. "It’s not about taking the same tool and putting it in a new application; it’s about learning what a tool can’t do and finding ways to restructure our thinking about its foundations so we can create newer, better tools."

"I hope that SIAI showcases not only what we can do, but how we can work together with students, alumni and industry and government leaders to dream up new ideas for what AI can do."

Provost Christophe Pierre using AI for facial recognition
Provost Christophe Pierre using AI for facial recognition. CREDIT: Jeff Vock.