The University of Sheffield has received funding to train the next generation of artificial intelligence scientists and engineers
In February 2019 the UK received a major boost to advance its position in the global AI race, thanks to a £100m investment to train the next generation of artificial intelligence leaders. The University is to open one of 16 new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) in Artificial Intelligence (AI) supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). An investment of £8 million pounds has been made for the CDT, which will be funded by the UKRI, the University and industry partners such as Google and Amazon.
Sheffield’s Centre will focus on speech and language technologies, addressing the current shortfall in demand for scientists and engineers with advanced training in this area
Professor Thomas Hain, Principal Investigator and Director of the CDT in Speech and Language Technologies and their Applications, said: “We are proud that the University of Sheffield has been chosen to host a centre for doctoral training that will combine our experience in training generations of inspired doctoral students with our track record of world-leading research. No SLT research training worldwide has the same breadth and depth, and exposure to real world problems that this centre will offer.”
A long-term goal of AI has been to create machines that can understand spoken and written human language, a capability that would enable spoken language interaction between humans and computers, and translation between all human languages.
The University of Sheffield has worked at the forefront of SLT for three decades and generated knowledge and defined best practise in automatic speech recognition, machine translation, text mining and social media analytics, speech perception and hearing research, and many other subject areas. The research groups have a very broad multidisciplinary expertise that is unique amongst UK researchers in this field.
The four-year training programme is designed to develop students’ professional skills and technical research experience, teaching them to foster interdisciplinary approaches, forge links with industry, and apply their learning to the real-world, developing their entrepreneurial skills. The CDT will pay particular attention to training students to be aware of ethical issues and concerns that arise in AI research in general and SLT research in particular.
A major part of the CDT involves close collaboration with industry, including multinationals such as Google, Amazon, Voicebase, Nuance, NHS Digital, Solvay and TechNation, as well as substantial UK SME support. They bring both insight and relevance to the students’ training and reduce the gap between academic theory and industrial practice. The industry partners will contribute through research projects, internships, teaching, advisory roles and outreach activities.
The Centre officially opened on the 1st April 2019 and will be welcoming its first cohort in September 2019.