Cantwell Introduces Bill to Boost AI Education

Bill would create student scholarships, fellowships for professional development, AI guidance for K-12 teachers & new AI education hubs at community colleges

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a senior member of the Commerce Committee, today introduced the bipartisan NSF AI Education Act of 2024 to expand scholarship and professional development opportunities to study artificial intelligence and quantum with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The emerging tech jobs of tomorrow are here today. Seattle has one of the nation’s highest growth rates for AI jobs, AgAID in Pullman is helping our farmers feed the world with AI solutions that overcome crop productivity challenges and the entire Pacific Northwest is on the way to becoming America’s 'Quantum Valley.’ Demand for AI expertise is already high and will continue to grow. This bill will open doors to AI for students at all levels, and upskill our workforce to drive American tech innovation, entrepreneurship and progress in solving the toughest global challenges,” Sen. Cantwell said.

The NSF AI Education Act would authorize the agency to award undergraduate and graduate scholarships in AI, quantum hybrid, and quantum, including scholarships focused on the use of AI in agriculture, education and advanced manufacturing. It would create fellowships for professional development for those already in the STEM and education workforce. It would require NSF to work with educators and academics to create guidance to into introduce AI skills and education in K-12 classrooms, and create Centers of Excellence at community colleges. It would also create grants for AI research, development and training in agriculture through Land-Grant Universities and the Cooperative Extension Service.

The Bipartisan NSF AI Education Act:

  • Boosts Educational and Professional Development Opportunities to Create AI and Quantum Leaders of Tomorrow: This bill authorizes NSF to award undergraduate and graduate scholarships for students to study every aspect of AI – its development, deployment, integration or application. It establishes scholarships for future educators, farmers and growers, and those in advanced manufacturing to study AI. It also provides professional development opportunities for current educators and STEM workers. The bill leverages financial support from the private sector to support the NSF scholarships and fellowships authorized by this bill.
  • Supports Quantum Education: In addition to supporting AI education, the bill will provide fellowships and scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students for quantum information science, engineering and technology. AI can help lead to breakthroughs in quantum and this bill works to support research, development and education for the technology.
  • Advances AI Technology to Support Agriculture: This bill propels AI research in agriculture to equip farmers with advanced farming tools for better crop production. It authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture in collaboration with the NSF to make grants for AI research, development and training in agriculture through Land-Grant Universities and the Cooperative Extension Service to reach rural communities.
  • Supports Community Colleges to Lead AI Education: In coordination with the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Program from the CHIPS & Science Act, this bill calls for creating at least five community college and vocational school “Centers of AI Excellence” across the country. These centers will focus building upon the best practices for teaching and researching AI and disseminating those practices across the country. These Centers will focus on topics like AI education and training, manufacturing, agriculture and more.
  • Spurs Innovation to Educate Workforce: This bill establishes NSF Grand Challenges to help find strategies to educate 1 million or more workers on AI in the United States by 2028. The bill also supports the creation of an AI education and training framework that does not displace existing workers, including teachers and helps more underrepresented populations such as women and rural residents to receive and benefit from artificial intelligence education and training.
  • Supports AI Resources for Classrooms: As AI rapidly develops, this bill instructs the NSF to collaborate with educators and academics and lead research on AI in the classroom. NSF would be tasked with researching teaching tools and creating publicly available education guidance for using AI in classrooms, with a focus on tools for K-12, low-income, rural and tribal students.

Read the bill text HERE and the summary HERE.

“Artificial intelligence is booming in every industry and career in America, from education and agribusiness to advanced manufacturing and communications. Senator Cantwell’s proposed NSF AI Education Act of 2024 will help Washingtonians stay on top of the latest AI developments and land well-paying jobs while building a strong and diverse workforce for our state’s high-tech industries. Along with the CHIPS and Science Act, this proposal will help families, communities, and employers thrive with the latest technological innovations,” said Paul Francis, Executive Director, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

"Microsoft is pleased to support the NSF AI Education Act of 2024, which is an important first step that will help support students, professionals, and institutions, including community colleges, prepare for and leverage the opportunities brought about by AI. We look forward to working with the Senate on future legislation as we continue to see the impact of AI across our nation’s education and workforce systems," said Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft.

“The United States needs a skilled workforce to harness the potential of AI for a more prosperous future. Investing in AI education is crucial for nurturing homegrown talent and ensuring our nation remains competitive as this transformative technology continues to advance. This legislation is an important step forward in strengthening the STEM talent pipeline and empowering the next generation of AI pioneers to keep the United States at the frontiers of this technology,” said Daniel Castro, Vice President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

“This legislation provides a tremendous opportunity to strengthen efforts to educate and train the next generation of Washington students to become global leaders in AI and quantum hybrid computing. We are grateful to Senator Cantwell and the Senate Commerce Committee for introducing this critical legislation,” said Kirk Schulz, President, Washington State University.

As Chair of the Commerce Committee, Sen. Cantwell will oversee legislation affecting the AI industry. Recently, Sen. Cantwell introduced the bipartisan Future of AI Innovation Act, which lays the foundation to maintain U.S. leadership in the global race to develop artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies, and builds off her original legislation that created the National AI Advisory Committee (NAIAC). Last summer, Sen. Cantwell hosted an AI Summit in Seattle where two NAIAC members participated on the panel about the future of AI. Her summit also showcased AI ventures from nearly a dozen regional small businesses and university programs that demonstrated how AI is currently being used to better their industries. Earlier this year, Sen. Cantwell held a roundtable with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and tech and science leaders to discuss how the government and private sector can partner to safely drive AI Innovation. Last year, Sen. Cantwell was a lead architect and spearheaded the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, which also directs the DOE and NSF to identify and invest in ten key technology focus areas, including artificial intelligence.