World first role for technology expert

La Trobe University and Cisco are jointly appointing the world’s first Cisco Chair in Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things.

The appointment highlights La Trobe’s growing reputation as a leader in new technology and industry engagement, while continuing to demonstrate Cisco’s global leadership in the use and application of emerging technologies.

Esteemed technology expert, Professor Wei Xiang will take a leadership role in consolidating La Trobe’s existing research strengths in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) across a range of disciplines, including Information Technology, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said Professor Xiang’s appointment as Chair is an exciting step for the University.

“Now more than ever, we need innovative technologies to help us be more flexible and creative in addressing our shared challenges as a global community,” Professor Dewar said.

“I’m therefore delighted that, as part of our highly valued, strategic partnership with Cisco, we have appointed such an eminent technology expert into this new role – the first of its kind in the world.”

Professor Dewar said Professor Xiang will be pivotal in undertaking new and exciting research at the cutting edge of the new technologies required for the knowledge economy.

“His appointment will help ensure our students are industry-ready, with the knowledge, skills and flexibility they need in this rapidly changing global environment,” Professor Dewar said.

Ken Boal, Vice President of Cisco Australia & New Zealand said the appointment of the Cisco Chair in AI and IoT would help to further enhance world leading research with industry.

“As we move into the era of connected intelligence, by working with La Trobe University we’re supporting the development of industry ready skills that are required, today. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things presents new research and innovation opportunities and are transforming industries right across the globe,” Mr Boal said.

The partnership with La Trobe builds on Cisco’s ongoing commitment to innovation and research in Australia and is part of Cisco’s three-year Country Digital Acceleration program, to invest and advance digital capability.

"Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration program is helping to support Australia’s transformation into a digitally enabled nation, with education underpinning the acceleration and advancement. At Cisco we believe that industry has a key role in collaborating with the education sector to ensure the latest thinking and insights are shared and developed into the curriculum, as well as furthering research. Cisco is actively leading this effort by increasing investment in the education sector.

The Cisco Chair of AI and IoT combined with the world class co-innovation capability, further our collaborative approach to innovative teaching and learning and open up the door for world leading research,” Mr Boal said.

Professor Xiang said he was both thrilled and privileged to take up the appointment as the world’s first Cisco Chair in AI and IoT, and to join a small and elite group of Cisco Chairs in Australia, Canada and USA.

“I am excited about embarking on a new career journey at La Trobe University to conduct both world-class and impactful research that aims to deliver tangible benefits to the University, industry and the wider community.”

Before his La Trobe appointment, Professor Xiang was Founding Chair and Head of the Discipline of Electronic Systems and Internet of Things Engineering at James Cook University in Queensland, where he led the establishment of Australia’s first Engineers Australia accredited Bachelor of Engineering in IoT course. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia and the Institute for Engineering and Technology.

As the new Cisco Chair in AI and IoT, Professor Xiang will work at both La Trobe’s Melbourne campus in Bundoora, and at the Bendigo campus where the Master of Internet of Things program is based.

Professor Xiang will create a network of academics at La Trobe working with Cisco, its partners and customer ecosystem. He will lead research, co-innovation and teaching and learning in AI, IoT, data analytics, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship.

In addition to leading the development of a new AI and IoT Research Centre, Professor Wei Xiang will also help strengthen the University’s interactive learning and teaching technologies. This will include advising on curriculum development and industry-integrated learning for information technology courses, and working closely with the Cisco Networking Academy program.

Other initiatives being developed through the La Trobe – Cisco partnership include the establishment of a Cisco Co-Innovation Hub as part of a program that works with regional and global partners to create new technology solutions that solve industry pain points and positively impact business, society, and the planet.

Background information

Internet of Things - 500 billion devices are expected to be connected to the Internet by 2030. Each device includes sensors that collect data, interact with the environment, and communicate over a network. The IoT is the network of these connected devices. These smart, connected devices generate data that IoT applications use to aggregate, analyse, and deliver insight, which helps drive more informed decisions and actions

Artificial Intelligence - AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in smart machines capable of performing tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. AI is inherently interdisciplinary. Technological advancements in machine learning and deep learning are creating a paradigm shift in virtually every industry that can benefit from AI technology.

Master of Internet of Things - This year, La Trobe became Australia’s first university to offer a Master of Internet of Things.  The degree is part of a suite of teaching and research initiatives that address innovative, future-focused technologies, including cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

AI and IoT Research Centre - This centre will be the first of its kind in Australia and will aim to exploit the synergy between AI and IoT. The Centre will work closely with existing La Trobe research strengths, particularly in health and agriculture, by applying AI-empowered IoT technologies to these strategic sectors. The Centre will also work closely with industry partners to deliver real-world industry solutions in areas such as smart cities, smart manufacturing and smart transportation.

La Trobe enquiries | Kathryn Powley | k.powley@latrobe.edu.au | 0456 764 371

Cisco enquiries | Cori Drogemuller | cdrogemu@cisco.com

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