The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $20 million, five-year grant to the University at Buffalo to create an artificial intelligence (AI) institute that will focus on the speech-language pathology needs of young children.
the new AI Institute for Excellence Education It will aim to develop advanced AI technologies that lead to new assessments, interventions, and services in speech and language pathology. The scholarship comes from NSF and the Institute of Educational Sciences of the Ministry of Education.
President of the University at Buffalo Satish K said: Tripathi Of the award, “The selection of the National Science Foundation to lead this impactful initiative underscores the pivotal role our world-class researchers play in addressing society’s most pressing challenges, including creating equitable and inclusive environments that enable young learners to thrive.”
Tripathi also acknowledged support for the university and for federally funded research by Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Congressman Brian Higgins.
The institute has more than 30 researchers from nine universities including the University at Buffalo; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Stanford University; University of Washington; Cornell University; University of Nevada, Reno; the University of Texas at El Paso; Penn State University; and the University of Oregon. Venu Govindaraju, Vice President for Economic Research and Development at the University at Buffalo, serves as principal investigator for the grant.
Participating researchers bring their expertise in the fields of artificial intelligence, natural language processing, social robotics, communication disorders, diversity and inclusion, learning sciences, communication and other fields.
The institute has been tasked with developing two new AI solutions:
- AI Checker to enable comprehensive early detection of speech and language problems. The screener will be used in early childhood classrooms to analyze video and audio streams of children’s natural interactions, derive measurements of their speech, facial expressions and other gestures and automatically evaluate new, hard-to-obtain aspects of speech.
- an Orchestrator, an app that helps speech-language pathologists create evidence-based interventions designed to be most effective for each child. It will also monitor students’ progress and adjust their lesson plans in response to the data collected.
“The AI Institute for Exceptional Education follows 18 AI institutes led by NSF, an ecosystem of AI research and education in pursuit of transformative advances in AI research and AI-powered innovation development,” said James Donlon, NSF Program Director. NSF ad of the prize. “We are excited to welcome this new team to the AI Institutes Program.”
The grant award is the largest currently available from the National Institute of Artificial Intelligence, initiated by NSF in 2019 to support long-term, rewarding AI research in a range of economic sectors, and fields of science and engineering.
“The University of Buffalo leads New York and our nation in advancing major innovations in education technology, and now the University of Buffalo will host New York’s first National Institute of Artificial Intelligence to transform education for children who struggle to communicate,” Senator Schumer. “This significant federal investment will help bring technology into the classroom to ensure all children get the help they need with speech and language processing challenges — all thanks to the research of University at Buffalo scientists.”
According to the US National Science Foundation, there are more than 3.4 million children in America who need speech and language-related services, yet there are fewer than 61,000 speech-language pathologists to serve them. This gap and associated learning problems have recently been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, making it very difficult for children to receive the individualized speech and language services they need.
“We are eager to see how this team advances AI research to develop better solutions for children with speech and language disabilities, as well as for their families and the US schools that serve them. This project is a great example of how we can harness the opportunities that AI technologies can present to enhance the services that can be To be offered by our nation to the American people,” said Fengfeng Ke, NSF Program Director.