Waterloo Engineering is continuing its relationship with Amazon through the Alexa Fellowship, a growing program to support research, education and entrepreneurship around conversational artificial intelligence (AI).
Waterloo was one of just four universities – along with Carnegie Melon University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Southern California - to participate in the program when it launched last year.
Now it remains the only Canadian participant after an expansion announced this week to 18 universities from around the world in the Amazon Alexa Fellowship.
At the core of the program is Alexa, the cloud-based voice service that powers devices such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap and more.
“Just as we engage developers to build with Alexa, it is important for us to support the academic community that continues to tackle the hardest of challenges that can advance voice technology,” Amazon said in a blog post detailing the expanded program.
Waterloo Engineering is a participant in one part of the overall program called the Alexa Graduate Fellowship, which fosters research and education by supporting PhD and post-doctoral students specializing in conversational AI.
The program provides funding to cover tuition, a competitive stipend and mentoring from an Alexa scientist.
Amazon also provides Alexa devices for use in several undergraduate and graduate courses so students can learn about voice technology through hands-on projects and labs.
In its second year, the Waterloo program features three Alexa Ambassadors as facilitators. They are professor Alexander Wong, lecturer Igor Ivkovic and adjunct assistant professor Shelley Wang.