Faculty gift supports creation of program that will teach how to connect classroom lessons and real-life issues

July 25, 2019

Cordelia Candelaria, Regents Professor Emeritus in the School of Transborder Studies, wants to bridge the past with the present by making Arizona State University classroom concepts and theories applicable to real-life situations. She may not teach in a classroom regularly, but she still educates everyone she meets who will listen.

Recently, the former literature and Latino studies professor developed a program called People-Power Undergoing Life Sustaining Education — PULSE — that provides workshops for ASU faculty and students to integrate fact-based reasoning into their analysis and decision-making in areas such as diversity, law and civics.   Regents Professor Emeritus Cordelia Candelaria speaks to a group of international students studying at ASU in 2017. Photo provided by Cordelia Candelaria Download Full Image

“Years ago when I taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, our students were complaining about tenured professors who were in the dark ages when it came to gender and social equality,” Candelaria said. “This has happened here at ASU, too. We want to show how things are related, make the connection between what they’re learning and real life.”

The PULSE program is funded by a $40,000 gift by Candelaria to the School of Transborder Studies to provide an overview presentation and three PULSE workshops for part-time and full-time faculty and students. The donation will be used to provide 25 grant-in-aids in the amount of $500 for faculty and five $800 scholarships for students.

“Faculty giving is an important component to Campaign ASU 2020 and we are grateful for their generosity and support,” said Gretchen Buhlig, chief executive officer of the ASU Foundation. “The faculty are core to this institution. They engage with our students on a daily basis.”

Candelaria served as an ASU professor from 1992–2008 for the Department of English and what is now the School of Transborder Studies. In 2007, she became the founding associate dean for strategic initiatives in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to advance transdisciplinary diversity programs. Embracing diversity and helping others understand differences is part of Candelaria’s life work. The PULSE program is just the next step in her journey to help faculty and students understand how the past affects current life.

“I can envision PULSE getting faculty and students motivated to consider issues that they have not in the past,” said Lisa Magaña, associate director and professor in the School of Transborder Studies. “Cordelia wants scholars and students to think outside of their traditional frameworks and consider broader impacts of their research on others and the community. The School of Transborder Studies has always been community-focused so a proposal that encourages research in these areas fits nicely with our mission.”

PULSE workshops will be held after the school years starts and there will be optional seminars available with various community groups.

Applicants to the program must complete a two-page application that highlights their interests and goals. The form is available at the School of Transborder Studies. Faculty will need to modify their syllabus and show how they plan to incorporate what they learned from the workshops into their teaching using real-life examples.

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners


Artificial intelligence goes to camp

High school students from across the nation converged on ASU's West campus for a one-of-kind summer camp

July 26, 2019

Eduardo Hinojosa has a passion for the field of artificial intelligence. But the 16-year-old was at a dead end trying to pursue his digital passion in his hometown of Redwood City, California.

“My school doesn’t offer any computer science classes, so I was just looking for something to teach me and guide me in the right direction.” 2 students working on classroom computer Anushka Mukhopadyay and Divya Kalanee were two of the underrepresented students who spent three weeks on ASU's West campus getting a head start in the growing field of artificial intelligence. Photo by Amber Orquiz/New College Download Full Image

That something turned out to be a summer camp on Arizona State University’s West campus. “I felt inspired to come to this camp because I want to keep up with the industry, and I haven’t found many options to help me in this field,” Eduardo said.

He was among the dozens of high school students from across the nation who converged for the inaugural ASU AI4ALL camp. Over three weeks in June and July, campers collaborated to develop a firm grasp of the growing field of artificial intelligence. But, this was no woodsy hiking and canoeing summer camp. These high school students tackled real-world problems, such as heart disease prediction, flu prediction, disaster relief, Twitter bot detection and fake news detection using state-of-the-art AI and machine learning methods. 

“Exposing students to AI in high school is important,” said Kuai Xu, ASU cloud computing and network security professor and ASU AI4ALL director. “Because understanding AI, a powerful tool and technology rapidly changing the world, will empower high school students to solve many current societal problems from innovative and unique perspectives and will inspire them to become future AI researchers, engineers, scientists and leaders.” 

The AI4ALL camp took place on ASU’s West campus in collaboration with ON Semiconductor and AI4ALL. This partnership was built upon the aligning belief that AI instruction should be available and offered to all students regardless of gender or ethnicity.

“This camp ensures that underrepresented and female students understand what they can offer to this male-dominated field to make AI stronger and to help influence the technology,” said Gail Ricketts of ON Semiconductor.

“AI4ALL is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in artificial intelligence, and right now, we know that there are many folks who have been historically underrepresented in this space,” said Wells Lucas Santo, education manager at AI4ALL. “The people who are creating this technology are not representative of the people who are using this technology.”

Tiffany Shumate, AI4ALL’s director of university programs, said that AI4ALL’s goal is to reach these underrepresented students to create equity and diversity in the field, while preparing them for careers in AI.

“When we think about diversity, we think about socio-economic status, race, sexual orientation and gender, but we also think about geographical location. Many students with access to AI education in the U.S. are concentrated in coastal cities,” Shumate said. “We are excited to work with ASU to reach students in Arizona and the Southwest with approachable and inclusive AI education.”

ASU joins 10 other participating universities who host AI4ALL summer programs across the U.S. and Canada.

AI4ALL partners with universities that are committed to expanding access for underrepresented students in high school in an effort to reach them as they are considering their future.

“We want to show these students that this is a field they can excel in, even if they’ve never done this before,” Santo said. “We want to spark passion and enthusiasm with students early on.”

Additionally, targeting high school students builds a necessary pipeline of students into the university and out into the workforce in AI. AI4ALL strategically partnered with ASU and Phoenix-based ON Semiconductor to reach these students in the Southwest region of the country. The support of these organizations allowed ASU to provide scholarships to many students attending the camp.

As a three-week residential program, campers had the opportunity to go on a variety of weekend excursions including a water park, Fourth of July celebration and the Grand Canyon. Additionally, they had the opportunity to tour ON Semiconductor to ­see AI in action. In the evenings, they took part in team building, summer movies and a pool bash.

“All the students worked hard during their class time learning AI, and then played hard in the evening being campers!” said Carolyn Starr, SummerUP camp director.

Vishal Sachdev of Champaign, Illinois, enrolled his daughter, Shreya, in AI4ALL. “As a parent, you want to give your kid awareness of different career options, and artificial intelligence is certainly one that is influencing virtually every field," he said. "So even if your child is not going into computer engineering, the techniques learned here are relevant across all domains.”

AI4ALL’s Shumate agrees that even if students don’t pursue a career in AI, it is important for them to understand the impact AI will have on every career. She added, “AI literacy is at the heart of access in this program.”

ASU will host AI4ALL again next summer as part of the SummerUP series of camps to provide even more students access to explore the growing field of AI.

For more information or to be a part of the program through company field trips, providing guest lecturers or sponsorship, please reach out to camp director Carolyn Starr at Carolyn.Starr@asu.edu.

Program Coordinator, Cybersecurity Education Consortium, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences