Amazon and Howard University Collaborate to Advance Machine Learning Research

The collaboration between the tech giant and the HBCU's College of Engineering and Architecture will focus on machine learning and natural-language processing.
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  • Amazon and Howard will be in regular communication through liaisons who will report on project progress.
  • Amazon first collaborated with the university for the Howard Entertainment Program and a 10-week technology internship program.
  • Two research projects are live: one studying patient clinical records, and the other focusing on consumer experience.

Howard University students' research into new uses for machine learning will get a big boost by Amazon.

The historically Black college and university (HBCU) in Washington, D.C., last week announced an academic collaboration with Amazon that will support research into machine learning and natural-language processing.

Amazon will fund faculty research projects in Howard's College of Engineering and Architecture.

Supported research projects will focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural-language processing, e-commerce, and robotics, John M. M. Anderson, dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture, said in an Amazon report.

"Importantly, the underrepresented-minority students who are trained at Howard in these fields will become future innovators who create technology-driven businesses and diversify the engineering and computer science workforce," Anderson said. "Amazon's continued support of our faculty and students has furthered our research and educational activities and resulted in an exchange of mutually beneficial technological expertise."

Amazon research liaisons are also assigned to Howard to communicate regularly with faculty and serve as technical subject matter experts.

Amazon representatives visited Howard in October to host an information session on internships for graduate students, according to Amazon. They also hosted a community engagement dinner for the college of engineering faculty, research liaisons, and Amazon scientists.

"As soon as the opportunity arose to engage with Howard on an effort that my team could be a part of, I was all in," said Maureen Stewart Nordberg, principal product manager at Amazon Benchmarking. "Having worked with alumni from Howard and with some of the fellows in the program, I am excited to watch the engagement and to see what additional efforts and innovation are to come."

Here's a glimpse of two projects Howard researchers will expand through the new Amazon collaboration.

Detection and Prediction of Adverse Drug Effects With Deep Learning

The project, run by Saurav Keshari Aryal and Legand L. Burge III, seeks to incorporate traditional natural-language processing with deep sequential learning to use patients' clinical notes to predict adverse drug effects.

Developing a Hybrid Recommendation System by Modeling Household-Level Online Shopping Demand

The study, run by Md Sami Hasnine, will develop a machine learning model to estimate household-level online shopping demand. The study aims to save consumers time while shopping for habitually purchased items by having the model learn individual behavior and increase recommendation accuracy.