Hampton University to Develop a New Robotics Program With Funding From Amazon

Amazon Robotics is funding the establishment of a robotics degree program at historically Black Hampton University in Virginia.

Amazon funding will assist with establishing a new research laboratory in an existing space; a one-year faculty position dedicated to artificial intelligence and machine learning; a senior capstone course where students will receive side-by-side mentorship from leading researchers, software developers, and engineers at Amazon; and the expansion of K through 12 programming, including an annual drone camp aimed at encouraging high school and middle school students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to pursue degrees in STEM and robotics.

Hampton students will also receive free Amazon Web Services (AWS) credits, allowing them to utilize AWS tools and computational power for robotics projects. Hampton officials say they hope to eventually create a master’s degree in robotics for their students and they noted that the nature of Amazon’s support makes that much more achievable.

“Amazon had a unique approach. They asked, ‘What do you want and what do you need?’ Then they said, ‘Put something together that’s going to benefit you and let us see how we can help you achieve that,’” notes Jean Muhammad, chair of the Hampton computer science department. “We have a lot of industries that approach us in engineering and computer science. It’s not often that we get someone that comes in with that approach.”

“We are very thankful Amazon Robotics has invested in Hampton University and its students for this project which will enable the growth and development of the next generation of diverse STEM scholars,” says William R. Harvey, president of Hampton University. “Amazon Robotics recognizes the stellar talent that comprises Hampton University’s faculty, staff, and students to launch this program. I look forward to seeing what innovations will blossom from this cutting-edge partnership.”

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