Top leaders from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) visited the Silicon Valley headquarters of C3.ai for an engaging discussion on the next frontier of AI, data science, and design thinking. The event drew participation from the entire C3.ai staff and focused on the joint initiatives of UIUC, peer universities, and industry leaders like Tom Siebel in defining the future of digital technologies.
C3.ai Chairman and CEO Tom Siebel kicked off the program. As a distinguished alum of UIUC and an influential thought leader, he shared his insights on how AI and data science will influence the future of business and society in general. Tom explained the important role that educational institutes have to play in exploring the technical, ethical, societal, legal, and other dimensions of AI’s impact on our world.
UIUC leaders described the various initiatives being taken to infuse data science and design thinking into the core of the learning experience and academic research at the university.
Siebel Center for Computer Science
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Andreas Cangellaris reflected on the significance of computer science in driving revolutionary change and how the Siebel Center for Computer Science is helping define the next 150 years of computer science. With his observation, “ No matter how powerful the computers are, the real power comes from the people behind them”, Dr. Cangellaris explained the significance of its CS + X degree that integrates the humanities with computer science. Dedicated in 2004, the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science is a 225,000 square feet, world-class facility to advance education, research, and innovation in the field of computer science.
Siebel Center for Design
Director of the Siebel Center for Design, Rachel Switzky took the stage next to describe its envisioned role as a catalyst for the adoption of design thinking in teaching and research across all fields of study at UIUC. She explained the role of this uniquely designed facility, at the heart of the university campus, in opening the horizons for young minds and encouraging an inter-disciplinary approach in connecting-the-dots for innovative solutions to pressing issues. This uniquely designed 60,000 square feet facility is expected to be competed in Spring 2020.
Siebel Digital Transformation Institute
In explaining the vision for the recently announced Siebel Digital Transformation Institute, Dr. Cangellaris recalled Victor Hugo’s famous quote, “The brutalities of progress are called revolutions. When they are over we realize this: that the human race has been roughly handled, but that it has advanced.” He explained the role of this newly created institute in exploring the tremendous promise of digital transformation while recognizing its revolutionary impact, and potential for unintended consequences. He described the intended role of the institute in catalyzing cooperative research across peer universities such as UC Berkeley, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and University of Chicago, to effect digital transformation in diverse industries and critical infrastructure. The Siebel Digital Transformation Institute will fund foundational research through 50 grants a year amounting to $5 million in cash, $7.5 million in elastic cloud resources and unlimited use of the C3 AI Suite. All research will be published and made publicly available to advance the progress of digital transformation.
To conclude the event, Tom moderated a panel led by Chancellor Robert J. Jones and including Nancy Amato, Head of the Computer Science department; Rashid Bashir, Dean of Engineering; William Gropp, Director and Chief Scientist NCSA; Vice Chancellor Andreas Cangellaris; and Rachel Switzky, Director Siebel Institute for Design. Topics ranged from the role of the Siebel Digital Transformation Institute in creating curricula, accelerating multi-disciplinary learning, and the role for UIUC in driving innovation and change.