Published: June 26, 2020 By

Collage with headshots of Dig, Chang and MishraClockwise from left: Dig, Chang and Mishra

CU Boulder has been selected to lead a new multi-university, industry-focused research Center on Pervasive Personalized Intelligence through the National Science Foundation.

The center already has support from several global corporations, and leaders say that the work done over the next five years will cement America’s strong position in computing and the Internet of Things.

The new center, created in partnership with Oregon State University, will operate under the Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers model. This setup is designed to help startups, large corporate partners and government agencies connect directly with university researchers to solve common research obstacles in a low-risk environment. The aim is to develop new technology faster and build out the U.S. workforce in critical areas.

The Internet of Things refers to the ever-growing and interconnected network of devices in our lives, such as smart thermostats, that are changing the way we live and interact with the world. The center specifically looks at pervasive personalized intelligence with a goal of enabling new technologies that are predictive to users’ needs instead of reactive by using machine learning and artificial intelligence. PPI touches on many industries including precision agriculture, energy, aerospace, manufacturing, personalized health, smart cities and homes, and transportation. The center will also explore questions around mobility, privacy, and context awareness.

Danny Dig is the executive director of the center and an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science. He said he is excited to see where the center will go over the next few years.

“The challenges around intelligent IoT systems are beyond what any industry or university can solve in isolation,” he said. “In the post-coronavirus world, industry and academia need each other more than ever before to leverage access to resources and expertise. It’s been said that if you want to go fast, you go alone, but if you want to go far, you go with others.”

The center officially starts in September, and many researchers within it come from the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Associate Professor Evan Chang and Professor Shiv Mishra will serve as co-site directors along with Dig. In all, more than 40 computer science graduate students at OSU and CU Boulder are expected to work on projects related to the center.

Dig said many of the groups interested in joining are global high-tech companies as well as medium-size companies and startups from Oregon, Colorado and Silicon Valley. So far, Intel, NEC Corporation and Dell Technologies have all pledged membership along with Itron, Trimble, Daimler Trucks North America and Galois. 

Interim Dean Keith Molenaar said the center will foster CU’s global leadership in the field.

“The award of this prestigious center is the culmination of our expert faculty working with industry leaders on meaningful collaborations over the years,” he said. “It will be a powerful tool to solve some of society’s most important technological challenges. This academic-industry combination solidifies CU Boulder as a global leader and a place where exciting discoveries are happening.” 

The center will host a formal opening and workshop virtually Sept. 14-18 with daily sessions lasting about two hours. 

“These are interesting times to launch an industry center, but we are committed to turning adversity into advantage for our industry members,” he said.