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New centre for AI launched at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington

Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington was proud to launch Te Whiri Kawe – the Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence on 13 June 2023 at the Kelburn campus.

The Centre brings together expertise and innovation in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning from Faculties across the University.

The Centre has areas of expertise across several technology themes, including modelling and statistical learning, evolutionary and multi-objective learning, deep learning and transfer learning, image, text, signal, and language processing, scheduling and combinational optimisation, and interpretable artificial intelligence/machine learning.

Director of Te Whiri Kawe, Professor Mengjie Zhang says,

“The Centre’s vision is to achieve sustainable research excellence and innovation in data science and AI by developing advanced fundamental research, innovative methods and techniques for key applications, and leading knowledge advancement with significant impacts to the economy, environment, health, and social aspects.

“We would like to see the Centre become the international hub of data science and AI research, and a national hub for research collaboration, industry engagement, and commercialisation with Crown Research Institutes, companies, universities, and government agencies.”

Scholarships and internships for Māori Students In addition to traditional research, the Centre has established a pipeline of scholarships and internships for Māori students and provides training for early career researchers.

The Centre currently has over 30 core academics, 8 postdoctoral researchers, and over 50 postgraduate researchers in data science and AI. Among them, there are 2 Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2 Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and 3 Fellows of Engineering New Zealand.

Launch event

The Centre was opened with speeches from Vice-Chancellor Professor Nic Smith, Minister of Research, Science, and Innovation Dr Ayesha Verrall, President-elect of IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS) Professor Yaochu Jin, from Bielefeld University, Germany, and Centre Director Professor Mengjie Zhang, and ended with a traditional Chinese lion dance.

More than 200 attendees from New Zealand universities, Crown Research Institutes, Regional Research Institutes, private companies, and government agencies including MBIE, Marsden, SfTI, MPI, MSD, and FEAT at the Centre’s participated in a full-day workshop. These focused on the cutting-edge research areas, capability, and infrastructures of the Centre, as well as key applications of data science and AI in primary industry, climate change, health outcomes and high-value manufacturing, society and social impacts, and Māori/Vision Matauranga, and a panel discussion on the future of data science and artificial intelligence.

Professor Zhang thanked all those involved in establishing the Centre, “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all those who played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Centre, and I eagerly await the future work and accomplishments that will emanate from it.”

More details can be seen here.

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