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UNB advancing artificial intelligence and data science with $2.5 million commitment

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Nov 24, 2022

Category: UNB Fredericton , UNB Saint John

University of New Brunswick (UNB) alumnus Dick Carpenter (BA ’72) and the McKenna Institute are pleased to announce a gift of $2.5 million to advance the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science at UNB.

AI and data science have become essential elements in the creation of effective digital products and services. AI depends on large data sets for developing reliable predictive models and data science relies on AI algorithms to extract meaningful features from data sets. This interdependence has resulted in AI and data science becoming increasingly intertwined and dependent upon advances in math, computer science and software engineering.

This gift will support the development of interdisciplinary AI and data science research across UNB’s faculties and campuses. It was secured through the ambassadorship of UNB alumnus and former New Brunswick premier The Hon. Frank McKenna, PC, OC, ONB, KC, F.ICD (LLB ‘74, LLD ‘88), and The McKenna Institute.

“We tend to think of AI in terms of social media algorithms,” said Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle, UNB’s president and vice-chancellor. “In fact, AI is now a fundamental feature of every large-scale human activity, from agriculture to health care and industrial manufacturing to designing the self-driving Zamboni.

“This gift from distinguished alumnus and community builder, Dick Carpenter, will give UNB an opportunity to better compete with much larger universities in AI and data science,” continued Mazerolle. “The advantage that this provides for businesses and public services in Atlantic Canada will be profound as UNB partners with the private and public sectors to deliver industry-leading research that advances the interests of our province and region.”

Richard S. “Dick” Carpenter graduated with a bachelor of arts from UNB in 1972 before becoming one of New Brunswick’s leading property developers. He is former president of Court Holdings and Heritage Management Inc., which has been involved in numerous heritage restoration projects in Moncton and around the province.

“When Frank McKenna approached me about supporting AI and data science at UNB, I could see the social and economic benefits that would flow from this gift,” said Carpenter. “Having strong, multidisciplinary AI research at UNB that is focused outward, on business and product development, will attract new employers, create new jobs and foster the growth our province needs.”

Dr. Dave MaGee, UNB’s vice-president (research), agreed.

“AI and data science research has the potential to deliver real life solutions in all sectors of the economy,” said MaGee. “We want the world to know that this vital, multidisciplinary research is being conducted at UNB and that our faculty researchers and graduate students are contributing to one of the greatest technological transformations in human history.”

“This investment represents a big step toward the digital transformation of New Brunswick,” said McKenna. “Developing AI research capacity not only helps attract new businesses, it will help existing businesses in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada remain competitive in an increasingly digital and data-reliant global economy.”

About the McKenna Institute

The McKenna Institute fuels economic growth and social progress by advancing the use of digital technologies in New Brunswick. The Institute collaborates to accelerate New Brunswick’s talent pipeline, nurture ideas and enable all New Brunswick communities to thrive in a digital world.