Students in Thomasville, Ga. present their own inventions as a part of Georgia Tech’s expanding K-12 InVenture Prize competition program. 

Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) is at the center of a new statewide initiative combining artificial intelligence and manufacturing innovations with transformational workforce development and K-12 outreach. The Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Corridor project (Georgia AIM) is supported by a record-shattering $65 million grant Georgia Tech received in September 2022 from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

Georgia AIM will support a total of nine inter-related projects throughout the state and is designed to increase job and wage opportunities in distressed and rural communities and among historically underrepresented and underserved people. Georgia AIM targets rural residents, women, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), those living with disabilities, and veterans — groups historically underrepresented in manufacturing. Through innovation, collaboration, education, and participation, Georgia AIM will provide the tools and knowledge to empower these communities to participate fully in a diverse AI manufacturing workforce.

“Many people have preconceived notions about manufacturing and may not be able to see how they could possibly connect to it," said Roxanne Moore, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering’s senior research engineer and director of CEISMC’s K-12 InVenture Prize program. “What they may not realize is that manufacturing is what brings new ideas to life. AI is rapidly reshaping the manufacturing industry and changing the landscape for job opportunities. The work that we are doing will position Georgia to lead the nation into the future of AI and manufacturing.”

Moore explains that through Georgia AIM, CEISMC will expand its K-12 InVenture Prize invention and entrepreneurship program to collaborate with school districts and businesses in Southwest Georgia, Southeast Georgia and Northeast Georgia. The initiative will expand on existing partnerships Georgia Tech has established with technical colleges and minority-serving institutions.

The project will reach at least 1,000 K-12 students and 100 teachers from underserved areas, with a focus on rural communities via existing programs at Georgia Tech, other nonprofits, the Technical College System of Georgia, the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission, local manufacturers, and K-12 school leaders, Moore said.

“We need to illustrate the powerful relationships between innovation, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing so that students can see how ideas come to life and how they can improve their communities,” said Moore. “It is my hope that these regional ecosystems become a role model for how educational institutions can support each other in expanding access to high-quality STEM experiences for diverse students who typically are not empowered to create their futures.”

As part of Georgia AIM, CEISMC will also expand its offerings through partnerships with the institute’s GoSTEM program to better serve Latino populations. GoSTEM is a collaborative partnership at Georgia Tech between CEISMC and Institute Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (IDEI). Its mission is to promote STEM academic achievement and college attendance among Latino and other cultural and linguistic minority K-12 students. Plans include translating existing invention and entrepreneurship curriculum into Spanish, adding lessons to the curriculum on AI and manufacturing, assisting with the development of regionally focused curricula, and expanding training and events to make them more inclusive.

“Our goal is to make invention education accessible to everyone in the state, especially those who may have been previously left out of the conversation,” said Danyelle Larkin, educational outreach manager with CEISMC. “By going into more rural areas of the state and working to develop multi-lingual curricula that is focused on the needs of the region, we hope to serve as a national model for how to accelerate the transition to automation in manufacturing while diversifying the next generation of AI leadership.

Additional Georgia AIM expansion plans for CEISMC and K-12 InVenture Prize include supporting an existing high school entrepreneurship program in Fitzgerald and working with Albany State University to host teacher workshops, support local schools, and host regional competitions with a focus on inventiveness and the entrepreneurial mindset.

"The overall goal of Georgia AIM is to establish the United States as a leader in AI manufacturing while making sure that these systems complement rather than replace existing workers,” Larkin said. “The work that we are doing in CEISMC plays an integral role in Georgia AIM with our specific expertise in weaving invention education and entrepreneurship into K-12 classrooms and connecting with diverse communities. This huge grant gives us a chance to amplify our work and bring even more people into the AI conversation. It’s about building a better, more equitable future for the people of Georgia.”

Randy Trammell, CEISMC Communications

Students in Thomasville, Ga. present their own inventions as a part of Georgia Tech’s expanding K-12 InVenture Prize competition program.