DeepMind Gift Will Give a Boost to Machine Learning Graduate Students and Diversity Efforts at UC San Diego CSE 

Sep 24, 2020
CSE alumnus Oriol Vinyals (left), and students, faculty and staff celebrating diversity at CSE

By Katie E. Ismael 

UC San Diego Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) graduate students who are studying machine learning will receive additional support thanks to a generous gift from DeepMind, a London-based company leading artificial intelligence research and how it’s applied in the real world. UC San Diego alumnus Oriol Vinyals (M.A. ’09) is a principal scientist for the company. The gift, which contributes to the Campaign for UC San Diego, will also be used to enhance the department’s efforts to increase diversity. 

CSE alumnus Oriol Vinyals (M.A. ’09) is a principal scientist for DeepMind and is the brain behind some of the most important papers and ideas that have happened in artificial intelligence (AI)

DeepMind will establish three fellowships for master’s students; those from cultural, racial, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds and genders that are currently underrepresented in graduate education in the field of machine learning will be encouraged to apply. The DeepMind Fellows will receive two-year fellowships that cover tuition along with a stipend, a travel grant and a DeepMind mentor. A one-time gift will be given to the CSE Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative.

DeepMind’s support will help strengthen the already notable reputation of CSE, currently ranked sixth in the world by (a metrics-based ranking for computer science institutions), and will further boost the upward trajectory of UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering, now the ninth-ranked engineering school in the nation, according to the US News and World Report Ranking of Best Engineering Schools published in March 2020.

“To change the workforce, we must look not only at our exceptional student population but at prospective students who dream of being in the field of machine learning. DeepMind’s gift will help us to attract those students and launch them into successful careers,” said CSE Department Chair Sorin Lerner. 

“Beyond that goal, DeepMind’s philanthropic support enhances our department’s collective efforts to increase diversity in the field of computing,” Lerner said. “While always important, diversity, equity and inclusion has become a top priority for us over the last few years.” 

Obum Ekeke, education and university partnerships lead at DeepMind, said, “We’re delighted to strengthen our relationship with UC San Diego by establishing DeepMind fellowships at the university. We hope this scholarship gift will support graduate students—and we encourage those from groups currently underrepresented in AI and machine learning to apply—through not only through financial means but by providing mentors and networks to help them thrive.” 

“DeepMind’s generous gift is an investment in our most precious resource-- our students-- and a testament to their understanding that our current students are the engineers on whom we will depend in the future,” said Christine Alvarado, the associate dean of students for the Jacobs School. “It is in everyone’s best interest to see that all of our students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.” 

CSE’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative works to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the department and beyond. Here, students, staff and faculty participate in the inaugural “Celebration of Diversity” day last year.

CSE and DeepMind have another connection with alumnus Vinyals– he is the brain behind some of the most important papers and ideas that have happened in artificial intelligence (AI), including being a key contributor to machine translation that drives Google Translate and to the AlphaStar project where an AI defeated human professionals in a game of StarCraft. (Read more about Vinyals and his time at CSE in this story in the V6 issue of the CSE Alumni Magazine.) 

Vinyals said, “The time spent at UC San Diego was of great importance as I started doing research on natural language processing (NLP) during that time. I'm happy and glad that DeepMind is supporting the university, its students and diversity in our field."

Philanthropic gifts, like the gift from DeepMind, contribute to the Campaign for UC San Diego—a university-wide comprehensive fundraising effort concluding in 2022. Alongside UC San Diego’s philanthropic partners, the university is continuing its nontraditional path toward revolutionary ideas, unexpected answers, lifesaving discoveries and planet-changing impact. To support Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering, visitGive Now.