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NDSU faculty develops artificial intelligence technology to predict onset of diabetes

The project is a collaboration between six universities and several private-sector partners in North Dakota, Alabama and Arkansas.

NDSU faculty
Students and faculty work on a breath test to detect blood sugar levels for diabetics at North Dakota State University.
Image: Justin Eiler, courtesy of NDSU
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FARGO, N.D. • Danling Wang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, Jen Li, professor of computer science, and Kristine Steffen, professor of pharmaceutical sciences – all instructors at North Dakota State University – have been awarded more than $1.4 million from the National Science Foundation to develop cutting-edge health care technology using artificial intelligence and to improve the area’s workforce.

The school made the announcement in a news release on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

According to the release, the project is a collaboration between six universities and several private-sector partners in North Dakota, Alabama and Arkansas. The team’s goal is to integrate research expertise from several areas including sensor development, nanotechnology, 3-D printing and Edge AI to build a smart, wearable device to predict the onset of diabetes by monitoring a patient's own breath without the need for a doctor to interpret the results.

“This project will enable a transformational advancement in the capabilities of AI in edge devices by developing new algorithms, hardware, sensors and devices,” Wang said in a statement. “Multiple patents and intellectual property are expected from this effort and our team will work with existing industry partners or spin-off small businesses for commercialization.”

It also will provide hands-on opportunities for NDSU students, according to the school, allowing them to apply the knowledge they learn in the classroom to scientific research solving a real-world problem, and creating an education-to-workforce pipeline that can fuel North Dakota’s economy.

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“Local companies such as Sanford and John Deere have shown their support for this project,” Li said. “The workforce training program of this project will provide high-quality potential employees for the community and the proposed Edge AI technology can benefit local industries such as agriculture and manufacturing.”

Other workforce development efforts include training high-school teachers in lessons to improve high-school students’ knowledge and skills in AI-integrated curricula and establishing an online Edge AI certificate program designed for industry professionals.

The lead institution on the project is the University of South Alabama; the collaborating institutions are NDSU, the University of Arkansas, the University of North Dakota, Alabama A&M University and Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College.

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