— Numbers of note on the 7,665-strong new class of UI freshmen: they hail from 40 countries, 43 states and 92 of 102 Illinois counties and averaged a 1348 on the SAT and 29 on the ACT. A quarter of them are first-generation students; 23.2 percent come from underrepresented backgrounds.
— Four ambitious Urbana campus-based projects — fronted by faculty from the Grainger College of Engineering and the College of ACES — will receive $125,000 in R&D funding from the Discovery Partners Institute, the new statewide innovative network:
The Center for Research on Autonomous Farming Technologies. The project, led by Girish Chowdhary, calls for developing and testing autonomous robots that will weed and spray corn and soybean crops, work in urban food gardens and care for berry and nut orchards.
The Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Construction. With 40-plus partners from the architecture, engineering and construction industries, the plan of a project led by Mani Golparvar Fard is to identify key areas for the highest impact of AI in the industry and bring new AI tools to market.
The Center for Autonomous Construction, Agriculture and Manufacturing at Scale. The goal of the project, led by Bob Norris: To commercialize new technology that helps companies operate construction and industrial equipment remotely or without human intervention at all.
Trustworthy and ethical artificial intelligence systems. The mission: To train people on how to build safe and unbiased algorithms, guaranteeing “broader trust and fairness in decisions,” says project leader Madhusudan Parthasarathy.
— For his “tireless” advocacy on behalf of immigrants, UI Professor Emeritus Nils Jacobsen will be honored with the Distinguished Leadership Service Award via Zoom at Saturday’s Immigrant Welcome Awards Celebration. Other honorees: the Chinese American Association of Central Illinois (Community Impact), Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine by Nina Wang (Business Leadership), Ibrahim Bourema Ouedraogo (Leadership) and Jacopo Demarinis (Student Leadership).