Accelerator names annual award winners

CAMBRIDGE, MASS – On Friday, June 11, 2021, the Department of the Air Force (DAF)-MIT Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (AIA) announced the AIA 2020 Awards for significant contributions and excellence. The recipients were selected from over 150 Airmen, MIT Lincoln Laboratory personnel, and MIT staff and students involved in this partnership.

The Department of Defense was given a White House directive in February 2019 to increase focus on artificial intelligence. The DAF-MIT AIA was formally established three months later to advance fundamental research in artificial intelligence to address broader societal needs and improve Department of the Air Force operations.

The DAF AIA Scientific Excellence Award was presented to Chris Rackauckas in recognition of the development of innovative computational processes to accelerate the simulation of nonlinear systems using neural networks.

Tech. Sgt. Allan Vanterpool received the MIT CSAIL AIA Distinguished Contribution Award for developing new processes to enhance AIA operations and visibility.

The AIA Directors’ Award, which highlights excellence and impact with a focus on collaboration across the AIA and with stakeholders, was presented to members of the Earth Intelligence Engine project. Allison Chang, Brandon Leshchinskiy, Björn Lütjens, Maj. John Radovan, Mark Veillette, and Esther Wolf were recognized for their cross-organizational collaboration, curation of novel data sets, visualization of forecasts, and delivery of an innovative challenge problem.

The DAF-MIT AIA Challenge Award was presented to members of the Puckboard team for the design and implementation of community “challenge” problems enabling optimal aircrew scheduling. The awardees included Amy Alexander, Kendrick Cancio, Capt. Ronisha Carter, Christopher Chin, Maj. David Jacobs, 2d Lt. Luke Kenworthy, Jeremy Kepner, 1st Lt. Matthew Koch, Jessamyn Liu, Capt. Kyle McAlpin, Maj. Travis Smith, Michael Snyder, and Tech. Sgt. Allan Vanterpool.

“The DAF-MIT AI Accelerator is about partnership. We have brought two institutions together to work on societally important needs,” said Col. Tucker Hamilton, Air Force director of the DAF-MIT AIA. “These awards recognize not only remarkable contributions from both individuals and teams, but also the resounding success and impact that MIT and the Department of the Air Force can make together.”

“The AI Accelerator has been making major advances in AI, aiming to address larger societal needs and improve Air Force operations,” says Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of CSAIL at MIT. “The research accomplishments and contributions behind these awards exemplify commitment and progress towards advancing the science of AI and facilitating societal applications across a wide range of fields.”