Indiana University (IU) alumnus and information technology pioneer Fred Luddy has given $60 million to establish a multidisciplinary initiative in artificial intelligence at Indiana University based in the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering. The initial focus of this initiative will be on AI approaches to digital health.
The gift will fund the construction of a building, which will be the center of this initiative. It will also enable the creation of six endowed chairs, six endowed professorships and six endowed faculty fellowships, as well as graduate and undergraduate scholarships, including scholarships for high-achieving Hoosier students, to support the initiative. The overall goal of the gift is to accelerate the progress of the school as one of the best of its kind in the world.
The new Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence will feature state-of-the-art teaching and learning spaces dedicated to supporting IU faculty and students doing pioneering work in AI and machine learning, and to encouraging and enhancing interdisciplinary collaborations.
"Fred is an outstanding technology visionary and innovator who understands deeply the enormous impact that AI, machine learning and related areas are having and will have on society. We are also extremely grateful for his willingness to support a major initiative in this area at IU—one with a focus on digital health care, which will be of such importance in Indiana and around the world," says IU president Michael A. McRobbie.
As a pioneer in the field of programming, Luddy developed the concept of platform as a service in cloud computing, creating modular components that are easily customized. In 2004, Luddy founded ServiceNow, serving as the company's CEO until 2011 and as its chief product officer until 2016, when he stepped into an advisory role.
"I believe in the importance of people," Luddy said. "It is the imagination and determination of people that drive technology that makes an impact in real lives. My path has been shaped by the people who inspire me, who guide me to pursue the next innovation with the potential to transform everything.
"This gift will allow the next generation of researchers and students to bring together their knowledge, wisdom and ideas to create things that we never thought possible. I'm thrilled to be able to play a role in helping IU professors and students reach for what comes next."
The announcement of Luddy's gift to establish IU's AI initiative is the second major announcement in less than six months concerning IU’s investment in technology. In June it was announced that IU would be acquiring a new AI supercomputer, Big Red 200. Named for the IU Bicentennial, it will be the fastest university-owned supercomputer in the nation and will support its advanced research in AI, machine learning, data analytics, and scientific and medical research. This system will become fully operational on IU's bicentennial anniversary on Jan. 20, 2020.
As the school strategically focuses on the study of AI and machine learning and their impact on digital health, its researchers will collaborate with IU's extensive health and life science schools, departments and programs, both in Bloomington and Indianapolis.
IU established the original School of Informatics in 1999, the first school of its kind in the U.S. and, at that time, the first new school at IU Bloomington in 25 years. In the 20 years since its inception, the school has added IU's highly ranked programs in computer science, library and information sciences, and statistics. Then in 2016, it added a new program in intelligent systems engineering, IU's first engineering program. The school is now a major source of information technology graduates for the economy of the state of Indiana.
The school's achievements have included pioneering advances in programming languages. It offered the first Ph.D. in informatics and one of the first master's degrees in cybersecurity, and it has produced influential research in human computer interaction and complex systems.
The school also continues to provide talented graduates and professional expertise to a wide range of computing and information technology businesses and occupations. It places special emphasis on partnering with information technology businesses and addressing needs in Indiana.
The school now includes about 21,000 alumni, many of whom work for Indiana's leading technology employers.
"This is a transformative moment in the history of the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering,” says Raj Acharya, dean of the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering. “The generosity and dedication of Fred Luddy to the people of the school is inspiring, and his support will help us invest in tomorrow in ways that will truly allow the school to take the next step in so many areas.”