Carnegie Mellon University Creates New AI Division, Names Director


June 28, 2021

Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) has announced a new research division dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) engineering, and named Matthew Gaston as its director. The new division will focus on research in applied AI and the engineering questions related to the practical design and implementation of AI technologies and systems.

A federally funded research and development center, the SEI helps government and industry organizations develop and operate software systems that are secure and reliable. It is leading a national initiative to advance the professional discipline of AI engineering through partnerships with industry, governments, and universities.

AI engineering is an emerging field of research that combines the principles of systems engineering, software engineering, computer science, and human-centered design to create AI systems in accordance with human needs for mission outcomes, CMU said. This discipline will help the Department of Defense and other government agencies meet mission goals by developing and deploying AI systems that are scalable, robust and secure, and human-centered.

Gaston, who joined the SEI in 2011, is currently director of the SEI’s Emerging Technology Center (ETC), which applies new software technologies for the DoD and other government agencies. Gaston also holds an appointment as adjunct associate professor in the CMU Institute for Software Research.

“Carnegie Mellon University recognized early on the promise of AI to enable better, faster decisions at scale,” said CMU Vice President for Research J. Michael McQuade. “Researchers at CMU created the first  AI computer program in 1956 and since then have conducted pioneering work in self-driving vehicles, facial recognition, and natural language processing. CMU was also the first U.S. university to offer an undergraduate degree in AI. It is critical for the U.S. government to bring engineering discipline to AI as a key enabler for national security, and it is particularly fitting for the Software Engineering Institute to contribute to this discipline because of the university’s long history of leadership in this area.”

Gaston has published in the fields of complex networks, machine learning, multi-agent systems, and operations research. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame, and his master’s and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

“I am very excited to lead the new SEI AI Division and to scale the SEI’s AI engineering capabilities in support of defense and national security,” said Gaston. “Using our initial work in the Emerging Technology Center and across the SEI as a foundation, we plan to build on the strong legacy of software engineering research at the SEI, initiate exciting new projects, work closely with world-class AI researchers across CMU, and build a community of collaborators throughout government, industry, and academia.”

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