Dr. Xishuang Dong led the team of scientists from Prairie View A&M University and Alabama A&M University for $299,666 research grant from National Science Foundation.

Project Title: Collaborative Research: IUSE-EHR: Improving Programming Skills of Engineering Students at HBCUs Using AI-enhanced Online Personalized Adaptive Learning Tools [Sponsor’s site]

Principal Investigator: Xishuang Dong, Ph.D.

Project Summary: Future engineering education should be able to train students to master traditional engineering knowledge, as well as to provide high-quality training on advanced techniques, such as data analytics and complex simulations, to meet industrial requirements of interdisciplinary talents. Programming skills are imperative for various simulations in the process of engineering education and becoming more and more important to training students on innovative techniques in emerging areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data science to be competitive workforce for interdisciplinary technology development like Internet of Things (IoT). A team of faculty with complementary expertise from two HBCUs (Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) and Alabama A&M University (AAMU)) proposed to build online AI-enhanced personalized adaptive learning (PAL) tools to enhance engineering education on programming skills at HBCUs. To implement these tools, it needs to complete three tasks with advanced AI techniques: 1) basic online tools that implement sharing learning materials and managing assignments, quiz, projects, and examinations; 2) PAL path recommender via deep reinforcement learning that recommends PAL paths to learners for maximizing engagement in learning programming, as well as improving corresponding learning performance by selecting items of appropriate difficulty; 3) smart programming assistant (SPA) via deep learning-based language models (LMs) that can generate reference codes to assist learners for programming activities involved in assignments and projects. These tools would be extended for teaching other engineering courses by transfer reinforcement learning, which will not require substantial efforts on system implementation to improve other skills of engineering students.

Xishuang Dong

Dr. Xishuang Dong is a member of CRI Center for Computational Systems Biology and CREDIT, and Assistant Professor at Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU). He received B.S. degree in computer science and technique at Harbin University of Science and Technology, M.S. degree in computer software and theory at Harbin Engineering University, and Ph.D. in computer application at Harbin Institute of Technology. His research interests include: (1) machine learning based computational systems biology; (2) biomedical information processing; (3) deep learning for big data analysis; (4) natural language processing.