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AI accelerator focuses on education

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christine Del Aguila
  • DAF-MIT AI Accelerator

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The Department of the Air Force-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Accelerator recently held a prototype capstone AI course at the MIT open learning space in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Autonomous Cognitive Assistance, or CogWorks, course is part of the AIA’s efforts to lead the way in supporting critical DAF AI education needs. Sixteen DAF employees from the Air Mobility Command, the Air Combat Command, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the 557th Weather Wing, the 618th Air Operations Center, the 837th Cyber Operations Squadron, and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center participated in the five-day inaugural course.

“Here at MIT we are surrounded by some of the best AI minds in the world,” said Capt. Lindsey McEvoy, DAF-MIT AIA Operations research analyst. “It only makes sense that we leverage their knowledge to make an AI course available to the DAF.”

The AIA education efforts are in line with the DOD’s AI education strategy, which aims to cultivate an AI-ready force to accelerate adoption. The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center identified six archetypes based on AI learning needs: Lead AI, Drive AI, Create AI, Employ AI, Facilitate AI and Embed AI.

The JAIC coordinates with training and education institutions like the AIA to upskill current personnel and develop a long-term AI talent pipeline for the DOD and beyond. The CogWorks course focuses on the “creating” and “embedding” AI archetypes.

“One of our goals at the AIA is to prototype how to educate, cultivate, and grow an AI ready workforce, from senior leaders all the way to AI developers and acquisition professionals, to the users of these AI-enabled capabilities at scale,” said Capt. Vicente Pamparo, a U.S. Space Force program manager and current Phantom stationed at Los Angeles Garrison, California.

The course taught students how to develop algorithms to create AI capabilities, and armed them with the skills and confidence needed to use the algorithms within their respective units.

“An AI-ready workforce is key to an AI-ready DOD,” said Maj. Kyle McAlpin, acting DAF-MIT AIA director of Operations. "For our Air and Space Forces to take the first steps towards an AI-enabled future, our workforce must first understand AI deeply and meaningfully."

Other AI educational efforts carried out through the DAF-MIT AIA include: a piloted 500-person foundational AI course for the DAF in partnership with MIT Lincoln Laboratory; a three-month AI course on behalf of JAIC; a nine-month AI expert course; an AI course for national security leaders; and various informal, introductory AI classes for DOD organizations and joint participants.

The AIA has also compiled a list of AI educational resources for DOD employees, which are accessible via commercial internet and with a Common Access Card.