Opening the Door to AI Innovation

Left to right, Reid Simmons, Director, JPMC AI Maker Space and Research Professor, Robotics Institute, CMU; Guy Halamish Co-Head of D&PS; Martial Herbert, Dean and Professor of Robotics, CMU; Farnam Jahanian, President, CMU; Manuela Veloso, Head of AIR; David Hudson, Co-Head of D&PS; Andrea Stefanucci AIR Executive Director; Sameena Shah, AIR Research Executive and Samik Chandarana, CIB Chief Data & Analytics Officer. Front: Fetch the robot. Photo credit: Carnegie Mellon University

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has opened its AI Maker Space at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) with a robot-assisted ribbon cutting and hackathon event hosted by AI Research.

Inspired by the "maker spaces" in engineering departments where students, researchers and entrepreneurs experiment with different materials and technologies, the AI Maker Space at CMU, equipped with robots, drones and smart appliances, is the first of its kind on a college campus.

The opening of the 2,000-square-foot facility will give students in all fields an opportunity for hands-on experience with AI projects involving a range of technology including robotics, machine learning, speech recognition and computer vision.

The novel idea of creating of an AI Maker Space came from Manuela Veloso, now head of AI Research at the firm and CMU Professor Emeritus. In 2018, while she was faculty at CMU, researching and teaching AI, ML, and robotics, she learned how successful and popular the Engineering Maker Spaces were, where students work on hands-on projects that use the latest technologies. Manuela Veloso, who was helping design a new AI major at CMU, thought that it would be great to have an AI Maker Space for bringing AI to use of all the CMU students. She brainstormed the idea with her colleague Reid Simmons, Research Director of the CMU Robotics Institute, who got equally enthusiastic about the idea.

After joining JPMC in 2018, Veloso led the collaboration between JPMC and CMU to support the new AI Maker Space. In 2019. The partnership was formalized, enabling AI research and development opportunities and making way for the JPMorgan Chase & Co. AI Maker Space, where Simmons, who secured the space and carried the implementation, is now its director.

"Financial institutions are waking up to the promise of AI," said David Hudson, global co-head for Digital and Platform Services (DPS). "We really believe that AI will be the most transformative technology to our industry over the coming decade. We're hoping this environment will help students find innovative ways to really start pushing the boundaries of what we know and what we think is possible."

"Let their imaginations run wild"

Located on the ground floor in a bright, central area of the Tepper School of Business, the JPMorgan Chase & Co. AI Maker Space is available to students across all disciplines. "We want students from all over the university — from engineering, business and fine arts — to come and use their creativity to make interesting things happen, said Reid Simmons, Director, JPMC AI Maker Space and Research Professor, Robotics Institute. "Giving students the freedom to let their imaginations run wild is really what this space is all about."

The technology in the space also includes virtual and augmented-reality devices, high-end computers, and a "Smart Home Area" where students can incorporate AI into smart devices.

"We are very excited for this maker space and the opportunity it will provide students to acquire hands-on learning for projects to address complex real problems," added Guy Halamish, global co-head of DPS. To support that learning, earlier this year, the AI Research team made its synthetic datasets available to CMU Faculty Research Awardees to help train machine learning algorithms.

Next generation of AI talent

The firm's investment in the space will also help to nurture the next generation of tech talent, said Veloso. "We are looking forward to JPMorgan Chase & Co. AI Maker Space playing a role in the effort as talented students pursue their ideas and interest in AI and we can't wait to see the work that comes out of the space."

The opening of the AI maker space builds on the collaboration activities with CMU, which has included twelve Faculty Research Awards, four PhD Fellowships, presentations at the firm by two CMU Distinguished Lecturers, and three undergraduates named as JPMorgan Chase Undergraduate Research Scholars. 

To learn more about AI Research initiatives, capabilities and implementations, visit JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s AI Research webpage.

Watch Video:  JPMorgan Chase & Co. AI Maker Space