Vector Institute appoints new VP of AI engineering
August 26, 2020
TORONTO – The Vector Institute announced the establishment of a new AI engineering team that will translate Vector’s leading AI research into new industrial applications and healthcare initiatives. The engineering team will be led by Ron Bodkin (pictured) who will assume the role of VP of AI Engineering and CIO at the Vector Institute, and Engineering Lead at the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology in Society as of September 8, 2020.
After spending most of his professional life in the United States, Ron Bodkin is repatriating to Canada to take this role at the Vector Institute. In his most recent role as Technical Director on the Applied Artificial Intelligence team in Google’s Cloud CTO office, Ron led strategic initiatives working with Google Cloud’s customers and partners, and worked with product teams on explainable AI and fairness capabilities in Google Cloud products.
“I’m excited at the opportunity to build an engineering capability for Vector, working with some of the top researchers in AI and to lead with AI solutions that exemplify responsible uses of AI and its benefit to society,” said Bodkin. “I look forward to working with the institute’s deep and diverse public and private sector sponsors and partners.”
Ron is also a serial entrepreneur. He was founding CEO of Think Big Analytics, a company which developed corporate data strategies for clients, and provided integrated machine learning and data engineering services. In 2014, Think Big Analytics was acquired by Teradata, where Ron led Think Big as a business unit focused on analytic solutions, deep learning, and GPU compute. He later became Teradata’s Vice President & General Manager of Artificial Intelligence, leading a team with a charter to identify and commercialize machine learning products.
Ron received his Honors B.Sc., Math and Computer Science from McGill University in 1991, and obtained a Master’s in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992.
“The establishment of the engineering team marks a natural progression of our vision,” said Garth Gibson, president and CEO, Vector Institute. “The team will accelerate capabilities across multiple sectors and augment our position as a world-leading AI institute with a focus on responsible AI. Given Ron’s experience as an entrepreneur and leader in AI engineering and responsible AI, product development, and strategic partnerships, he is uniquely positioned to drive and advance application and lead the team. We are looking forward to welcoming him back to Canada.”
The AI engineering team will be charged with five key priorities:
Industry: Supporting the Vector Institute’s industry sponsor companies through knowledge transfer programs, giving these companies the know-how and hands-on experience to adapt and operationalize reference applications, tools, frameworks, and model templates within their organizations.
Responsible AI: Collaborating with the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society to develop technology and frameworks for operationalizing responsible AI, helping industry and health partners address common technical challenges related to AI governance, fairness, explainability, interpretability, privacy, and security.
Health: Supporting the operationalization of innovative AI tools and solutions in Canadian healthcare organizations with a focus on privacy, technology modernization, and collaboration with practitioners. This will complement and build on Vector’s commitment to modernizing health data governance for research by enhancing the impact of compute infrastructure provided for support the Ontario Health Data Platform for COVID-19 research, collaborations with Unity Health Toronto and TAHSN hospitals to derive COVID-19 insights from hospital data, and the Health AI Data Access Platform (HAIDAP) collaboration with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services (ICES), UHN, and HPC4Health at The Hospital for Sick Children.
Research: Accelerating our researchers’ ability to conduct and reproduce experiments and push forward the frontier of AI research by enhancing our AI infrastructure, fostering the most promising innovations, and seeking to demonstrate their implications for AI practice, including through open source publication and maintenance.
AI Infrastructure: Procuring and operating one of the world’s most significant non-profit machine learning computational infrastructures, including thousands of GPUs, petaflops of computation, large scale data management, modern training frameworks, experiment workflow tools, and prioritized fairshare scheduling.
“Canadian companies seeking to become and remain global competitors must be able to apply state-of-the-art AI,” said Ed Clark, chair, Vector Institute. “Vector’s knowledge transfer programs and projects, imbued with the expertise of AI technology leaders such as Ron Bodkin, will provide the foundation for the application of cutting-edge research and help Canadian companies advance their adoption of this technology.”
About the Vector Institute
The Vector Institute is an independent, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing AI, excelling in machine learning and deep learning. Our vision is to drive excellence and leadership in Canada’s knowledge, creation, and use of AI to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. The Vector Institute is funded by the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada through the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy administered by CIFAR, and industry sponsors from across the Canadian economy.