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New Meta AI Mentorship Program enables Allen School Ph.D. students to collaborate with industry while advancing open research

Image of Meta Seattle office exterior with patio, path and vegetation under a wooden lanai against a backdrop of downtown Seattle skyline
Ph.D. students participating in the Meta AI Mentorship Program will spend part of their time working alongside researchers in Meta’s Seattle office. Credit: Netta Conyers-Haynes

The University of Washington and Meta are launching a new partnership today that will support graduate student research while providing opportunities to collaborate with industry-leading scientists and engineers. The Meta AI Mentorship Program is designed to enable Allen School Ph.D. students who are interested in artificial intelligence, machine learning or natural language processing to advance their dissertation research under the guidance of both their faculty advisor and researchers in Meta’s Seattle office by collaborating on projects of mutual interest.

“The Meta AI Mentorship Program encourages students to tackle ambitious research projects that will enable them to make progress toward their degree while enjoying the opportunity to work side by side with industry researchers,” said Luke Zettlemoyer, a professor in the Allen School’s Natural Language Processing group and a research director at Meta AI. “I think this program will yield exciting results and new lines of inquiry in our field. I’m thrilled to be able to bring this program to our students and colleagues.”

There are a variety of potential synergies between UW and Meta research that students and their mentors might choose to explore, including but not limited to representation learning, natural language generation, machine translation, question answering, semantic parsing and large-scale optimization. In keeping with the principles of academic freedom and open research, participating students will not only be permitted, but encouraged to publish the results of their work with their advisors and Meta mentors — and to incorporate that work into their dissertation research.

“Our goal is to encourage students to think big and to make progress on important research questions, so we intentionally designed the mentorship program with open research in mind,” Zettlemoyer explained. “We want to ensure that students not only have a great experience, but also come away with results they can build off of to advance their careers.”

The program is currently open to Allen School Ph.D. students who are in their second year or later, with the potential to expand to students in other units on campus in subsequent years. Participants in the inaugural cohort, which will number up to five students, will receive sponsored research support that will cover their tuition along with a stipend. In addition, the students will spend eight paid hours per week working with researchers at Meta’s Seattle office during the academic year, and 40 hours per week paid during the summer. The expected duration of each student’s participation will be one year, with the option to extend it for up to an additional year.

“This program offers students the best of both worlds: the excitement of discovery under the guidance of their faculty advisor, and the opportunity to work alongside industry leaders — all of whom are at the forefront of their respective fields,” said Magdalena Balazinska, professor and director of the Allen School. “Our school has already enjoyed the benefits of multiple collaborations with Meta. I look forward to seeing how this latest partnership drives innovation and enriches our students’ early research careers.”

The Allen School and Meta have enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership leading up to today’s announcement, including Meta researchers who are affiliate professors in the Allen School, Allen School professors who have deep engagement with Meta, student fellowships and internships, and Meta’s support for the UW Reality Lab focused on another area of mutual interest: augmented and virtual reality.

The UW–Meta AI Mentorship program is part of a portfolio of employment-based, collaborative, open research programs the company has launched around the country since 2020. The others are with Carnegie Mellon University and New York University.

Interested students have until June 17 to apply to be part of the first cohort of the Meta AIM Program at the UW, which will get underway in October.