Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly part of our daily lives, with applications from voice-activated assistants to self-driving cars — and its influence continues to grow. A new multidisciplinary research centre created at U of T Engineering will leverage the power of AI to address challenges in a wide range of fields, including human health, sustainability and advanced manufacturing.
The new Centre for Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Engineering (CARTE) was approved by Faculty Council earlier this month and will launch July 1, 2019. It brings together more than 30 professors with expertise in optimization, analytics and AI, as well as diverse domains such as energy, transportation and life sciences.
“Our focus will be applying analytics and AI to practical challenges,” said Professor Timothy Chan (MIE), who has been appointed the inaugural director of CARTE. “We are fostering collaborations between researchers who study analytics and AI directly and people in other areas where AI could be a useful tool.”
Chan points to examples such as a biomedical engineer who may wish to use AI to sift through large databases of information about drug molecules, or a civil engineer looking to optimize the design of a transit network. “We have experts on both sides of these issues,” he said.
CARTE capitalizes on Toronto’s unique position as a world-class research powerhouse and its close proximity to a diverse range of industry clusters. It is organized around three themes:
CARTE will begin by seeding new collaborations. It builds on the successful model of programs such as XSeed, which supports joint research between U of T Engineering and several other Faculties across the University.
The CARTE team is also considering a residency program by which faculty members and students would rotate through a dedicated space in the Myhal Centre. “Physically putting people together will get these collaborations off to a solid start,” said Chan.
Education and Training
The research and highly qualified personnel supported by CARTE will support curriculum development for any U of T Engineering department, program or course. Examples include the Engineering Science major in Machine Intelligence — the first undergraduate engineering program of its kind in Canada — as well as the undergraduate minor and certificate in Artificial Intelligence Engineering.
CARTE will also dedicate resources to strengthening experiential learning opportunities, including through the PEY Co-op program, and will look at applying analytics to challenges in the domain of education itself.
“We’re hearing lots of excitement from existing and potential industry partners,” said Chan. “The fact that we can connect them with both domain experts and analytics/AI experts is very appealing.” To catalyze partnerships, the Centre will organize networking events to bring together faculty members, students and cross-sector industry leaders.
“The seismic shifts being brought about by analytics and artificial intelligence have been referred to as the fourth industrial revolution,” said Ramin Farnood, vice-dean of research at U of T Engineering. “We are very proud of the talent and successful track record we have in these areas, and CARTE will further enhance our impact. I look forward to seeing the innovative partnerships, technologies and ventures it will spark.”
CARTE joins more than 25 multidisciplinary research institutes across U of T Engineering that catalyze research and engineering education in critical areas, including water, sustainable energy, robotics and global engineering.
“Through CARTE, we are developing the artificial intelligence technologies, products and industries of tomorrow, as well as the global engineering leaders who will translate them from the lab into the marketplace,” said Dean Cristina Amon. “Building on our pioneering analytics and machine intelligence education programs and our Faculty’s expertise in AI engineering, we will enhance experiential opportunities for our students and drive multidisciplinary research to generate innovations that will improve lives for people around the world.”