Cantwell, Moran Introduce Bill to Boost AI Education

May 23, 2024

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


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, 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,” said Senator Cantwell. “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.”

“Artificial Intelligence has tremendous potential, but it will require a skilled and capable workforce to unlock its capabilities,” said Senator Moran. “If we want to fully understand AI and remain globally competitive, we must invest in the future workforce today. This legislation takes an all-of-the-above approach, investing in STEM education, fellowships and hands-on-learning from kindergarten to college for students in rural areas, at community colleges and from low-income homes. Inspiration to explore and the resources to learn will help make certain the U.S. is an AI leader in the next century.”

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 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 on 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.

Today’s introduction follows the April 18, 2024, introduction of Sen. Cantwell’s bipartisan Future of AI Innovation Act that lays the foundation to maintain U.S. leadership in the global race to develop AI and other emerging technologies. Both bills build on her 2020 legislation with Sen. Todd Young that created the National AI Advisory Committee (NAIAC) and become law as part of the 2021 NDAA.

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 and quantum.

Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
“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.” Paul Francis, Executive Director, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.


Washington State University
“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.” Kirk Schulz, President, Washington State University.


Garden City Community College
“The future of business and industry are reliant upon AI technology. It is critical, now more than ever, that higher education institutions embrace programs, training, and workforce development that embeds AI into curriculum and professional development. It is incumbent on higher education to build collaborative industry partnerships and training which best prepare individuals for this changing workplace. STEM education and grant opportunities included in the NSF AI Education Act will further provide opportunities to expand AI training and create access across higher education.”  Dr. Ryan Ruda, President, Garden City Community College.


"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."  Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft.


Information Technology Industry Council
“Strategic, robust investments in AI education and research and development are crucial to safeguard the United States’ global competitive edge. U.S. Senators Cantwell and Moran’s bipartisan NSF AI Education Act of 2024 will help the U.S. achieve this important goal by bolstering education resources and science-driven research. Importantly, the legislation will also ensure the U.S. advances a skilled workforce equipped to leverage AI’s transformative potential and address the constantly evolving and fast-moving technology ecosystem.”  Jason Oxman President and CEO, ITI.


Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
“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.”  Daniel Castro, Vice President, ITIF.


“Government investments that encourage careers in STEM are essential for maintaining U.S leadership in developing spaces like quantum computing and AI. We are encouraged by and support the proposed Cantwell-Moran AI Education Bill, as it extends the original goals of the CHIPS and Science Act and creates new entry points for students and researchers wanting to pursue careers in the cutting-edge technical fields via scholarships and grants.”  Peter Chapman, CEO and President, IonQ.


QED-C The Quantum Economic Development Consortium
“QED-C and its members support growing the AI and quantum workforce, through programs that are broadly available and that educate technicians and teachers as well as scientists and engineers with advanced degrees. NSF will be a key agency in achieving that outcome.”  Celia Merzbacher, Executive Director, QED-C The Quantum Economic Development Consortium.