Image: Happy Valley Launchbox

A recent National Science Foundation grant is setting the groundwork for a new institute at Penn State. The $500,000 grant will help interdisciplinary researchers found the AI-Enabled Materials Discovery, Design, and Synthesis (AIMS) Institute. The hope is that the institute will further accelerate Penn State’s materials work, using AI to speed up design processes that might take years or decades otherwise.

“AI offers researchers a powerful suite of tools for scientists that can help drive science by dramatically accelerating scientific discovery, in a number of domains, including materials discovery,” said Adri van Duin, professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering at Penn State.

“The focus of this project is to advance AI methods and tools that can dramatically accelerate scientific discovery, by augmenting, amplifying and extending human intellect and abilities,” added Vasant Honavar, professor, Edward Frymoyer Chair of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State and an Institute for Computational and Data Sciences associate director and co-hire.

Beyond this, the new institute is planned as a place of collaborations, bringing together expertise from multiple institutions and organizations, as well as the next generation of AI researchers and developers. The institute will place a large emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the AI field, while bringing in students who plan to pursue AI-related careers.

The institute is still in the planning phase, which includes a seminar series, workshops and idea lab to further develop the vision for the institute and identify needs. In addition to researchers from Penn State, researchers from other world-renowned institutions are also involved, including experts from MIT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Members of the Penn State community are invited to sit in on the planning phases’ virtual seminar series; the next upcoming lecture in the series is on advances and remaining challenges in AI and materials design, Feb. 12.