Accelerating the Pipeline of Trailblazing STEM Students: Achieving Diversity and Inclusion in the AI Talent Pipeline

Workshop at the Thirty-Fifth AAAI Conference (AAAI-21)
February 5, 2021
11:30–1:30 PM PST
Workshop Organizer: Dr. William Gray-Roncal

In this workshop, we will discuss needs related to, best practices for, and research aimed at helping trailblazing students pursue careers in AI. We define trailblazers as high-potential students from under-resourced backgrounds (e.g., first generation, low income), from underrepresented STEM backgrounds (e.g., African American, Latinx, Native American, women), or with limited exposure to research opportunities or mentoring. These learners represent a highly capable, underutilized resource.

We will highlight a successful pilot program at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory—“Cohort-based Integrated Research Community for Undergraduate Innovation and Trailblazing” (CIRCUIT)—that aims to establish and apply a framework to create a new talent pipeline facilitating the transition of trailblazing undergraduate students into advanced STEM degrees and careers. Our work integrates interdisciplinary efforts in artificial intelligence and education to achieve mission impact while simultaneously developing improved methods for recruitment (diversity, inclusion, and equity).

Our workshop will provide an avenue for discussion and highlight potential solutions, including opportunities related to virtual education and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the conference. Feel free to submit questions or comments to


2:30–2:55 p.m. EST

Building AI Talent – A Strategic Imperative
Christine Fox, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

3:00–3:15 p.m. EST

CIRCUIT: Empowering Trailblazing Students to Become Leaders in the AI Workforce through Precision Learning
Will Gray-Roncal, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

3:15–3:30 p.m. EST

Meyerhoff Scholars Program
Mitsue Wiggs, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

3:35–3:55 p.m. EST

The CIRCUIT Program Experience – A Student’s Perspective
Martha Cervantes, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

3:55–4:10 p.m. EST

Educational Technologies for Leveling the Playing Field
James Diamond, Johns Hopkins University School of Education

4:10–4:20 p.m. EST

Assessing Interventions and Accelerating DEI in STEM Pipelines
Marisel Villafane-Delgado, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

4:20–4:30 p.m. EST

CIRCUIT Program -- A Mentor’s Perspective
Jeff Chavis, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

About the Conference

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s (AAAI’s) Thirty-Fifth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-21) will be held virtually February 2–9, 2021. The purpose of the conference is to promote research in artificial intelligence (AI) and scientific exchange among AI researchers, practitioners, scientists, and engineers in affiliated disciplines. AAAI-21 will have a diverse technical track, student abstracts, poster sessions, invited speakers, tutorials, workshops, and exhibit and competition programs, all selected according to the highest reviewing standards. AAAI-21 welcomes submissions on mainstream AI topics as well as novel crosscutting work in related areas.