WASHINGTON — Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (Georgia AIM) co-director Donna Ennis spoke at a White House event on Wednesday, Feb. 14, announcing new equity plans unveiled by federal agencies.
Georgia AIM, part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, works to drive AI adoption to lead the next revolution in U.S. manufacturing across all sectors, geographies, communities, and across underrepresented constituencies.
In addition to Ennis, Aaron Stebner, an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, serves as Georgia AIM co-director and lead at the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute‘s Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility.
Georgia AIM’s mission is to serve all Georgians, including rural residents, women, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), those living with disabilities, and veterans. Historically, these groups have been underrepresented in manufacturing.
The White House selected Georgia AIM among the many Build Back Better-funded projects to highlight the importance of community-based work in achieving equity. Below are Ennis’ prepared remarks for the event. With Ennis was Don Graves, deputy secretary of commerce, and former Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden.
Thank you, Secretary Raimondo and Mr. Benjamin, for this opportunity to discuss how critical the Build Back Better funding has been to our efforts in Georgia in promoting equity.
The Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing project (or Georgia AIM) is dedicated to fostering the equitable development and deployment of innovation and talent in AI for manufacturing. Through new innovative approach to funding, that is a coalition model, EDA has provided a pathway for us to develop a network of over 40 partners across the state, including educational institutions, community organizations, and local agencies, to establish an ecosystem unlike any other focused on workforce development, technology innovation, and resilience in manufacturing.
Georgia AIM’s projects are strategically different in communities across Georgia, because they are tailored to those communities’ specific needs. From boosting robotics competitions in K-12 education to enhancing hurricane resilience and aiding local manufacturers, our grassroots approach ensures meaningful outcomes. This has all been enabled through the Build Back Better funding.
Our customized approach means these innovations can significantly impact lives in Georgia’s rural areas, as well as in communities that are historically underrepresented in manufacturing—in particular, women, people of color, veterans, and members of the workforce without a college degree.
For example, just a few weeks ago, we welcomed our first 18 graduates of a Georgia AIM-sponsored AI robotics training program at the Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource Center. Graduates transition to jobs with Robins Air Force Base, internships with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility, or private industry around the state.
And because of this funding, mobile labs developed by the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Georgia, and HBCU Fort Valley State University will extend our reach to rural communities and communities of color, introducing them to smart technologies. These labs are equipped with examples of virtual reality, sensors, robotics, and 3-D printing, with instructors and custom curricula to introduce residents to these new technologies.
Among manufacturers, Georgia AIM has reached nearly 150 small and medium manufacturers including, rural, women-, veteran- and minority-owned companies to help them understand smart technologies.
Funding for Georgia AIM is allowing Georgia Tech’s Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility to nearly double its footprint and incorporate a new suite of smart tools and demonstration projects. Already, this facility has partnered with dozens of manufacturers, offering internships and apprenticeships, and guidance to manufacturers of all sizes. In the past year alone, more than 140 companies have learned about AI integration through tours of the facility.
While I could go on and on about how the Build Back Better funding is helping Georgia, I want to emphasize that Georgia AIM’s focus is strategic. We are building a foundation for an innovation economy in a part of the country that historically has not experienced this level of investment from the Federal government. Because of this investment, our AI-based solutions for manufacturers and STEM education efforts are customized for communities, creating a framework that can be replicated across the country. But underlying all of this is equity. We are building an ecosystem that uses AI to solve problems and create innovations for all communities—and, over time, create a template that can then be used to lift up communities across the country. Please visit Georgiaaim.org for more details about our project.