Amazon's Alexa Fellowship expands to 14 more universities

The program aims to help students innovate in conversational AI.

Amazon is eager to get more bright minds working on voice technology, so it's expanding the Alexa Fellowship program to 14 more universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Texas A&M and Cambridge. The fellowships are financed through Amazon's $200 million Alexa Fund.

Other schools joining the roster include University of Texas at Austin, Dartmouth, Arizona State and the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad, India. The latest additions take the number of schools in the program to 18, joining the previous quartet of Carnegie Mellon, University of Southern California, Johns Hopkins and Waterloo.

The program comprises two different fellowships: Alexa Graduate Fellowship and Alexa Innovation Fellowship. The former will back post-doctoral and PhD students who are focusing on conversational AI, working on matters like natural language understanding, text-to-speech and automatic speech recognition. They'll receive a stipend and funding to take care of their tuition costs, and they'll receive guidance from Alexa mentors.

The Innovation Fellowship, meanwhile, supports faculty members as expert resources for voice technology on each campus. Along with funding, Amazon is providing Alexa devices, training and hardware kits to support the fellows in helping student startups integrate voice technology into their products.

The fellowships are part of Amazon's broader efforts to support developers in building products with Alexa. The company is gradually opening up Alexa development to more markets, and recently let developers add purchasing options directly within skills.