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The College of Engineering, Technology, and Physical Sciences at Alabama A&M University has received another boost of confidence from the Army Research Office (ARO).

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According to AAMU, the top-notch equipment made possible by an additional ARO award of $384,605 will enable students and researchers to keep cranking out new insights in the developing Laboratory for Deep Learning.

A prior ARO award of over $100,000 was utilized to purchase a hyperspectral camera that covered the visible spectrum and was the initial equipment in the Laboratory for Deep Learning.

Back in 2020, Dr. Kaveh Heidary and Dr. R. Barry Johnson set up the Laboratory for Deep Learning to enhance the engineering college’s capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). A year later, ARO awarded the duo’s lab the first award of $206,782 to purchase a much-needed high-performance data processing and computing platform and a special hyperspectral camera capable of taking pictures in 165 color bands at the same time.

In addition, equipment is being purchased to provide the capability for faculty and students to design and fabricate Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) devices that enable the development of custom logic for rapid prototyping.

FPGAs are perfectly suited for custom computing, AI, system security, factory automation, and robotics. This year, Dr. Raziq Yaqub joined the team.

A suite of high-performance, high-definition cameras covering the ultraviolet (UV) to the long-wave infrared (LWIR) have been purchased, along with gimbals and an industrial-grade drone to transport them.

The ability to fly this suite of cameras will provide AAMU with a unique capability that already government and industry desire to utilize to create databases of imagery of a wide variety of things.

“This one-of-a-kind laboratory will enable faculty to develop new education and research programs in imaging, autonomy, data science, and deep learning,” explained Dr. Heidary. The clincher, though, is the lab’s increasing ability to attract and educate students in programs of “strategic importance to our nation’s economic and technological advantage and military preparedness.”

Heidary and his team realized early on that AI and machine learning (ML) research was postured for growing importance in such areas as health care, automobile manufacturing, agriculture, spacecraft systems, border control, and national security.

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