Penn State's industryXchange explores collaborations in artificial intelligence

Tessa M. Pick
December 21, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Engineering hosted the fourth annual industryXchange on Dec. 7-8. The virtual event brought together members of industry, Penn State faculty and students, and government agencies to explore collaboration opportunities on this year’s focus, “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.”

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning are altering the way every industry operates — from health care to manufacturing to transportation and beyond,” said Priya Baboo, interim senior director of corporate and industry engagement in the college and organizer of industryXchange. “IndustryXchange 2020 focused on this topic to provide industry perspective, trends and research to faculty, and to showcase Penn State’s expertise to industry.”

With representatives from 50 companies and five government agencies attending, more than 400 attendees had opportunities to discuss artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in many application areas, including cybersecurity, energy, health care, manufacturing and transportation. The event — with Chris Rahn, J. Lee Everett Professor and associate dean for innovation in the College of Engineering, as the master of ceremonies — kicked off with welcome remarks from Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research at Penn State.

“We have genuine partnerships between our deans and our institute directors here at Penn State,” Weiss said, noting the interdisciplinary nature of AI research at the University. “We have a shared vision and shared expectations, which fosters innovations and creative collaborations across disciplines and positions us to tackle exceptionally challenging research advances.”

After Weiss concluded her remarks, Andrew Fairbanks, general manager of federal services for IBM Americas, provided the first keynote on the history and current state of AI at IBM and examples of AI in government. His keynote included a discussion on AI ethics and future opportunities for growth. Fairbanks’s remarks were followed by a research spotlight session where recipients of the industryXchange Multi-Disciplinary Seed Grant presented their progress in AI development. 

“Penn State is known for our inter- and multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving. Innovation lives where disciplines — and collaboration — meet,” said Justin Schwartz, the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering, who offered opening remarks on the second day of the event. “IndustryXchange provides the platform for our industry partners and federal program directors to witness and participate in our research efforts.”

Schwartz introduced Igor Jablokov, chief executive officer of Pryon, who spoke about his engineering journey at Penn State and his industry work with AI. He explained how each sector of a collaboration — academia, industry, big tech companies, government agencies and others — is vital to progressing AI technology for everyday human use. Schwartz and Jablokov then hosted a “Virtual Fireside Chat” titled, “AI for All: Breaking Barriers with Private-Public Partnerships,” where they discussed the future of AI and how collaborative relationships between private and public partners can help advance the field. 

Following this discussion, attendees split for separate breakout sessions that were each focused on one of five areas of AI — cybersecurity, energy, health care, manufacturing and transportation. Each session allocated time for industry-focused discussions as well as faculty-focused conversations. 

“This helped identify synergies between our industry partners and our faculty, thus opening doors for follow-up conversations. We have already received requests from industry partners to connect with our faculty,” Baboo said. 

The 2020 industryXchange concluded with a keynote from Jennifer Hill, chief operating officer and general counsel for Remedy Analytics Inc. Hill focused on law, policy and engineering in AI. She spoke about the current state of AI, specifically focusing on AI applications in health care and identified some of the challenges that surround AI in the health care industry — including algorithm biases that can affect women and underrepresented groups. She discussed how developing an ethical framework for AI technology can help address these challenges. 

For more information on AI and machine learning industry-faculty collaborations, email Baboo at

Below are the winners of the student poster contest that took place on Dec. 7 during the Graduate Student Networking Reception, sponsored by Altran:

1. Best Poster: 3D printed absorber for capturing chemotherapy drugs before they spread through the body, Liang-Kai Chu, graduate student in chemical engineering, advised by Hee Jeung Oh, assistant professor of chemical engineering.

2. First Runner-up: Development of low-cost photoacoustic diagnostic systems powered by artificial intelligence, Sumit Agrawal, graduate student in biomedical engineering, advised by Sri-Rajasekhar Kothapalli, assistant professor of biomedical engineering.

3. Second Runner-up: Feature biomarker discovery of Alzheimer’s disease using graphene-optimized Raman spectroscopy and machine learning, Ziyang Wang, graduate student in electrical engineering, advised by Shengxi Huang, assistant professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 21, 2020