Mississippi AI Network kicks off with meeting at MSU

A group photo at the kickoff meeting for the Mississippi AI Network
Celebrating the launch of the Mississippi Artificial Intelligence Network during a Monday [Jan. 22] kickoff meeting at Mississippi State University are MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan, MSU Associate Vice President for Research and Economic Development Reuben Burch, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Executive Vice President Jonathan Woodward and MAIN Director Kollin Napier. (Photo by Jonah Holland)

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Representatives from educational institutions across the state gathered at Mississippi State University this week to launch the Mississippi Artificial Intelligence Network, or MAIN.

Funded by AccelerateMS and led by Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, MAIN brings together a network of education partners, non-profits, and industries to address multiple educational and economic development opportunities related to artificial intelligence. Monday’s [Jan. 22] kickoff meeting included presentations from community college representatives on how AI is being used both in the classroom and to support key business functions, how MSU and is using AI to grow its research and teaching mission, and how partners Intel and Dell are both using AI, building new technology, and supporting efforts like MAIN.

Jonathan Woodward, MGCCC executive vice president and principal investigator on the MAIN grant, noted that new technologies continue to have unexpected impacts at his institution. For example, MGCCC started using a chatbot to check in with students during their academic journey, which allowed for better timed interventions with students.

“Implementing a chatbot actually added a human element,” Woodward said. “Students voiced issues to the chatbot that they would not have shared otherwise.”

Monday’s meeting included a tour of MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, where researchers are using AI to develop stronger and lighter metallic materials, as well as software that can guide vehicles through offroad environments. Julie Jordan, MSU vice president for Research and Economic Development, emphasized that people are still at the center of AI development and usage, and ultimately the decision makers in the loop.

“AI represents a paradigm shift that is accelerating changes in how we do business and how we teach and learn,” Jordan said. “Companies need us to graduate students equipped to use AI in almost every career.”

The creation of MAIN is driven by the continued impacts of AI in everyday life, education, healthcare and nearly every economic sector, including key Mississippi industries such as manufacturing and agriculture. MAIN aims to develop a statewide collaboration for AI education, technical support and workforce training that is enhanced with industry partnerships and expertise.

“MAIN represents a great opportunity to chart a path forward that allows Mississippi to fully realize the potential private and public sector benefits of artificial intelligence,” said Courtney Taylor, deputy director for strategy and programs at AccelerateMS. “Initiatives like this will help us create a workforce that can adapt to the technological changes happening today, as well as the unknown changes that are still to come.”

Mississippi State University is taking care of what matters. Learn more at www.msstate.edu.