Cal State San Bernardino has been awarded $100,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to promote artificial intelligence (AI) education for undergraduate students.  

The funding is part of a team grant, along with San Jose State, Cal Poly Pomona, Long Beach State and the California State University Chancellor’s Office.

Yunfei Hou, an associate professor in CSUSB’s School of Computer Science and Engineering, is the university’s principal investigator for the grant.

“Simply put, we hope to promote AI education for non-computer science majors,” he said. “We will develop new learning modules focusing on the applied aspect of AI.”

He said the research will not focus on the technical details, but rather look at how AI tools can solve practical problems and their social implications.

The use of artificial intelligence is anticipated to grow in areas such as transportation, education and healthcare, for example. Preparing the nation’s students to gain strong AI skills will be necessary to enable them to be future leaders and innovators. Therefore, Hou said, it is in the national interest to improve college-level education in artificial intelligence.

The grant aims to address the lack of broad multidisciplinary participation and diversity in current AI education by widening access beyond students enrolled in computer science programs, where AI training is most found.

The project team’s goal is to develop material to help students identify social problems and then teach those students how to apply AI concepts and methods to analyze these problems and seek potential fixes.

 “The students will learn how to propose AI-powered solutions to address social issues considering both benefits and risks,” Hou said. The researchers have named this interdisciplinary teaching process “AI for Social Good” or AI4SG.

“We will implement AI4SG in the programs of management information systems, geography and computer sciences on the three CSU campuses involved in the grant,” said Hou. “Our multi-campus team will then host an annual workshop to showcase student projects and disseminate the best practices of an AI4SG education.”

“The support of the NSF in this area is key,” said Sastry Pantula, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “And support from both the NSF IUSE (Improving Undergraduate SSTEM Education): EHR (Education and Human Resources) Program, along with the NSF IUSE: HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institutions) Program, expands its reach and impact.”

NSF IUSE’s EHR Program focuses on research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for all students. Through its Engaged Student Learning track, EHR supports the creation, exploration and implementation of promising practices and tools. NSF IUSE’s HSI Program seeks to enhance undergraduate STEM education and broaden STEM participation at Hispanic-Serving Institutions or HSIs, along with building capacity. 

CSUSB is both an HSI as well as a Minority-Serving Institution or MSI.