A ribbon cutting ceremony held Friday marked the grand opening of a new data science and information technology building on the University of Florida campus across from the Reitz Union.
The $150 million building, named the Malachowsky Hall for Data Science & Information Technology, will serve as a space for medicine, pharmacy and engineering. Its seven stories will act as a hub for advancing computing, communication and cyber technologies to further support the integration of AI across UF’s curriculum.
The university said the 263,440-square-foot hall is designed to set the standard for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) buildings across national and international university campuses and aims to transform the artificial intelligence (AI) and data science workforce.
“This building will not only advance the future of science, it is a symbol of what is possible when universities relentlessly focus on a future that is brighter,” said UF Board of Trustees chair Mori Hosseini in a news release. “This building will propel AI education and research that will improve lives, bolster industry and create economic growth across the state and around the world.”
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The building is named in honor of Chris Malachowsky, a UF alumnus and co-founder of NVIDIA, an AI and accelerated computing company based in Silicon Valley. He collaborated with architects to design the new hall’s façade.
“The fields of AI and data science are of central importance in building a better world,” said Malachowsky in a press release. “I’m honored to further UF’s world-class capabilities in these areas by supporting the talent and interdisciplinary collaboration that will allow the university to lead during this time of unprecedented opportunity.”
Malachowsky Hall was funded with $110 million from the state along with additional private and college funds. It contains workspaces, called maker spaces, for innovation in the fields of virtual reality, internet of things and robotics as well as labs for AI, robotics and cybersecurity
Additionally, the hall has units for multiple entities of UF, including the OneFlorida+ Clinical Research Network, coordinated by the College of Medicine; the Biomedical AI Collaborative, and the College of Pharmacy’s Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research. The engineering spaces will serve as the headquarters for the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering, the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity Research, the Florida Semiconductor Institute, and the Warren B. Nelms Institute for the Connected World.
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UF and AI
UF said it is the first and only university in the country to allow every student to learn about AI and how it applies to their fields of study. The endeavor has been supported by Malachowsky and NVIDIA, who gave the university around $60 million in 2020 towards HiPerGator, an AI supercomputer powered by NVIDIA technology.
UF also works with universities, colleges and K-12 schools on effectively integrating AI into teaching and is nationally recognized as a model for how the U.S. can build a competitive AI workforce. The university has around 300 faculty members engaged in AI teaching and research, and recently gained support from the state to add over 110 more.
Any undergraduate and graduate student at UF will have access to data science courses through data analytics certificate programs, which build on data and software courses that facilitate interaction across colleges, at UF’s Informatics Institute, the release said.
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“UF is giving students and faculty more tools and opportunities to move the needle than we’ve seen in a generation,” said UF President Ben Sasse. “In a space designed to fuel breakthroughs and boost multidisciplinary collaboration, this building is a critical component of UF’s push to build one of the most forward-thinking and comprehensive research and teaching institutions of our time.”
To coincide with the opening of the hall, Sasse participated in a conversation about AI with NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang Friday morning. The event was moderated by Forrest Masters, engineering interim dean, and live-streamed.