NRT Doctoral Fellowship Program

Designing Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence Systems

About the program

The George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science is excited to announce that applications are now open for the first cohort of National Science Foundation Research Trainee (NRT) fellowship in Designing Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence Systems (DTAIS). A few of the program benefits include:

· Solving problems that matter: This is a doctoral program that emphasizes impact, cross-disciplinarity, stakeholder engagement, and close collaboration with faculty experts spanning technical and application-specific aspects of trustworthy AI.

· Prestige and independence: The prestigious NRT fellowship provides full funding directly to the PhD student including full tuition coverage + $34,000/year stipends (only US persons are eligible for DTAIS funding, though there are many ways for international students to participate).

· Inclusive support and mentorship: DTAIS fellows are given space to identify research problems that are meaningful to them, and the faculty and staff support to execute that vision. 

Fellows will earn a PhD in either Computer Science or Systems Engineering. Fellows will focus their electives on an interdisciplinary core sequence building shared depth in trustworthy AI in systems. Courses include algorithm design, bias detection, system architecture, socio-technical and policy implications.

Outside of the core curriculum, research formulation will be supported by seminars and a summer bootcamp to provide broad exposure to relevant research problems and implementation context. Professional development will be supported by a strong mentorship program and access to experts in ethics and communication.

Why this program?

AI tools are being developed at a blistering pace, deployed into an environment where value maximization precedes regulation. Fellows will navigate a core tension between the opportunity for ubiquitous AI to transform work for good and the emergent risks that arise when AI is embedded in core decision-making functions.

This fellowship is designed to prepare future innovators and policy-makers to lead as society navigates that tension. For algorithm designers, this means understanding, and being sensitive to, the context in which their creations will operate and evolve in unplanned ways through interaction with users in socio-technical ecosystems; and for system designers, this means knowing enough about how AI tools are evolving to regulate better, and reimagine how tasks and processes can and should transform work in fundamental ways.


Application Requirements

  • Apply to either the Computer Science or Systems Engineering PhD Programs. In addition to standard application requirements for each degree we are also looking for:
    • Eagerness to engage in making an impact. This is showcased via a supplemental essay which will be requested after the submission of your PhD application.
      • Essay prompt: DTAIS is a community-oriented PhD program focused on solving interdisciplinary problems. In two pages, please speak to your interest in joining the NRT. Your essay should focus on identifying a DTAIS-aligned potential research direction you'd like to pursue, as well as the value you see in a community-based, collaborative, interdisciplinary environment.
    • We expect most students to enter with a relevant MS degree in fields including but not limited to: computer science, data science, engineering, mathematics, physics, statistics.  We will also review applications from candidates with only a Bachelor’s degree who also have substantial professional experience.


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