Education and Outreach

To bring current scientists, engineers, farmers, and industries into a data-driven reality requires access to new ideas, skills, and tools. AIIRA's education and workforce development efforts are designed as a pathway that targets learners across academic levels.

These are organized as three Signature Educational Activities:

  1. Urban AI Robotany
  2. Undergraduate Certificate in CyberAg
  3. Graduate Minor in AI+Ag

K-12 Urban AI Robotany

The Urban AI Robotany curriculum combines plant biology and AI basics with hands-on activities in gardening, robot assembly, data collection, and modeling. The goal? Demonstrate how these sorts of measurements can be used to improve plant growth and performance.

The Urban AI Robotany activity aims to reach middle school learners. It's a pilot program at CMU with local partners and run it at the Obama Academy middle school. Down the road, we'll transfer the curriculum to Iowa State University and other partnering institutions, then work with Big Green to deliver the program on a national scale. The activity will be connect Carnegie Mellon University's Girls of Steel Robotics and the new Ag women in AI program we are working to create at Iowa State University. Our goal is to reach at least 400 students per year with the Urban AI Robotany activity by the end of five years.

Undergraduate Certificate: CyberAg

The second signature activity is a new undergraduate certificate program in CyberAg Systems. This brings together the AI strengths at Carnegie Mellon University, which is the top-rated AI undergraduate program in the world, and the Ag systems expertise at Iowa State University, which has strongest connection to ag and agtech companies in the US. We will train students from ag and AI backgrounds together to be experts in the fundamentally new discipline of CyberAg Systems. The certificate consists of a four-course series culminating in a capstone project. Industry partners bring topical problems and expert mentoring to a capstone projects that span across institutions. Ag and AI students will work side-by-side on these projects to learn how to solve the problems of the future.

The CyberAg Systems Certificate will start at Iowa State University then roll out to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Arizona, and other interested participating colleges starting in Year 3. We have already identified 17 community colleges that are interested in participating in this certificate program down the road.

Graduate Minor: AI+Ag

Through the Graduate Minor in AI+Ag, we expand the CyberAg Systems pathway to advanced learners. The goal is to bring together graduate students in agriculture as well as those in Engineering, Computer Science, and Statistics to create the researchers and ag industry innovators of the future.

Carnegie Mellon University and Iowa State University are working together now to develop a sequence of four courses that includes extensive hands-on programming in technical topics such as sensing, modeling and AI as well as agronomic topics such as crop models, crop management, and plant physiology and pathology.

The growing ecosystem of ag AI companies and tech providers will offer class projects and deliver guest lectures to create the agile workforce that they themselves are looking to hire.