Penn State Faculty Receives Funding To Advance Public Good

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa .– As public benefit technology advances, more and more researchers in all disciplines strive to apply technology for the service of the public good, for example by advancing equity and justice. social justice through technology and by promoting the integration of scientific knowledge into policy making.

To further develop PIT’s efforts, New America announced 31 grants totaling $ 3.61 million to the Public Interest Technology University Network members of 24 colleges and universities in its PIT-ONU 2021 convocation Nov. 2, including support for two Penn State research teams. All funding will support education and professional development opportunities at PIT.

New America is an organization focused on combining research and analytical expertise in coding, data science and human-centered design to create innovative solutions to the challenges caused by technological change. and social fast.

Project “IA for Good, Experiential Learning & Innovation for PIT”

Led by Principal Investigator Sandra Allain, Director of the Penn State Law, Policy, and Engineering Initiative and Professor of Practice, the AI ​​(Artificial Intelligence) for Good, Experiential Learning & Innovation PIT project will establish two educational opportunities to advance PIT: a credit-free online microcredit course available for citizen innovators and a new track within a Penn State Nittany AI Alliance Program aimed at fostering experiential learning opportunities for students.

“Nonprofits and the communities they serve often lack the knowledge, resources or technical expertise to benefit from technologies such as artificial intelligence,” Allain said. “Thanks to a collaboration between LPE, SEDTAPP [School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs] and Penn State Outreach’s Nittany AI Alliance, we have the opportunity to expose students to real-world issues and the societal effects of emerging technologies. We can also develop online micro-accreditations to provide skills that will advance innovation and the use of AI for public benefit technology.

LPE and SEDTAPP will partner with the College of Engineering’s Office of Digital Learning to lead LEAP for PIT, a digital professional training opportunity focused on the four themes of Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Artificial Intelligence and policies. Community members will complete each thematic module at their own pace to receive a LEAP for PIT micro-accreditation badge.

Researchers will also develop a public interest internship track within the existing Nittany AI Alliance program.Advanced program. This new lead will bring together LPE, the Nittany AI Alliance, Forbes Funds, the City of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations with nonprofits and non-government organizations to provide students with internships focused on artificial intelligence. It will enable undergraduates to design solutions to overcome barriers to technology access in marginalized communities across Pennsylvania through internships with community organizations and stakeholders. Students will have the opportunity to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to interact with and improve nonprofits and the communities they serve.

“It’s important to involve students in projects that expose them to opportunities that serve and advance the public good,” said Daren Coudriet, project co-PI, executive director of innovation at Penn State Outreach and director of the Nittany AI Alliance. “We are grateful to the Public Interest Technology University Network for the opportunity to explore how artificial intelligence could help address the challenges nonprofits face in serving their communities. “

Project “Bridging the digital divide in the Indian country”

Ahead of over $ 2 billion in broadband support funding for the $ 1,000 billion bipartite infrastructure deal, Native American communities identified a need for additional support and training to ensure successful implementation. Through partnerships with leading Native American organizations, the X-Lab affiliated with Penn State Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications will use PIT-UN funding to support skills training and implementation, technical support and writing grants to fund and adequately meet needs. local communities through its project Bridging the digital divide in the Indian country.

“For more than a dozen years, my team’s research has documented the systematic under-provision of broadband services throughout the Indian country; today we have an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen the myriad efforts of indigenous people to bridge these digital divides, ”said Sascha Meinrath, Research Director, Director of the X-Lab and Palmer Chair in Telecommunications. “PIT-UN’s support will accelerate skill sharing, engineering and implementation capacity, and inter-tribal coordination to strengthen the indigenous-led efforts that are being developed across the country. “

Led by Meinrath, the project pairs X-Lab with Native American collaborators to create educational and training materials that focus on best practices and empowered decision-making and help provide hands-on and experiential work experience through the implementation. broadband. Meirnrath said these efforts are aimed at strengthening relationships within allied Native American communities and assisting federal policy interventions to further meet the needs of communities, including the development of training workshops, technology training materials. broadband and assistance in obtaining additional government funding in support of Native American-led broadband projects.

“Since the era of the dial-up modem, a key facet of the digital divide has grown dramatically: the successes of broadband provisioning have created a growing resource gap between those with connectivity and those with who don’t, ”Meinrath said. “This The growing digital divide is particularly acute among tribal communities – too many of which are among the least connected areas of the country – and requires immediate, bold and capital-intensive interventions to address it. X-Lab’s work is aimed at assisting Native American initiatives in their efforts to organize, deliver, manage and oversee the provision of tribal broadband services on their sovereign lands. “

For a full list of fellows, visit New American site.

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