DAF-MIT AI Accelerator gears up for Cohort 8 of the Phantom Fellowship program

  • Published
  • By Kris Gault
  • Department of the Air Force AI Accelerator

The Department of the Air Force-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Accelerator announced today via MyPers the open call for applicants for the upcoming cohort of the Phantom fellowship that will take place from April 3 to August 25, 2023. The application window is open until February 2.

This will be the eighth cohort of the Phantom Fellowship program, a highly competitive, immersive program with the AI Accelerator that provides opportunities to learn from and contribute to leading-edge artificial intelligence. The AI Accelerator is a multidisciplinary team of embedded total-force Airmen and Guardians partnered with MIT faculty, researchers, and students to create state-of-the-art AI technology to address some of the most difficult challenges facing our nation and the Department of the Air Force.

Rotational fellows, known as Phantoms, supplement these efforts through the AI Accelerator Phantom Fellowship. Once selected, Phantom’s directly support AIA members who work alongside some of the top AI researchers in the world.

“The Phantoms are the best at what they do and we are proud to collaborate with them on front-line AI innovation,” said Capt. Ethan Sneider, DAF-MIT AIA Phantom program manager. “This is a unique opportunity to further develop high-performing Air and Space Force professionals who come to us with a history of strong performance and passion for digital transformation, and leave better prepared as future leaders and advocates of artificial intelligence.”

Over a five-month period, Phantoms gain exposure to novel AI research, training opportunities, and a one-of-a-kind career-broadening experience. In turn, Phantoms provide their subject matter expertise to various projects and generate new processes for transitioning AI from research to operational use.

The Phantom Fellowship is currently open to active duty, Guard, and Reserve Air and Space Force professionals and DAF civilian personnel for either the technical or non-technical Phantom path. Rank requirements for officer Phantoms are O-1 (minimum O-2 for public affairs Phantoms only) to O-4, E-3 to E-7 for enlisted Phantoms, and their civilian equivalent grades.

Technical Phantoms come from any career field and are chosen based on their specialized experience in AI, software programming, current area of AI Accelerator mission need, and technical acumen.

Non-technical fellows are DAF acquisition personnel, contracting officers, personnelists, space operators, and public affairs personnel. These Phantoms receive introductory training via an AI foundations course in addition to the opportunities available to the technical Phantoms. Additionally, public affairs phantoms support AI Accelerator leadership and its members with critical tactical and strategic communication efforts.

Phantoms who successfully complete the program, which requires AI project integration and individual AI research impactful to their home units, are eligible for various end-of-program recognition. Additionally, the “YSU” officer and “91P” enlisted special experience identifiers are attached to service members’ Air Force specialty codes upon completion of the program, allowing the DoD to harness the Phantom’s acquired AI knowledge and skill sets later in their careers.

"With every cohort we seem to break another record for number of applicants to our Phantom program, which is great because it means our Airmen and Guardians see AI's potential to impact operations” said Col. Garry Floyd, DAF-MIT AI Accelerator Director. "The AIA remains focused on guiding and supporting fundamental AI research at MIT against tough problems for the DAF...and given the diversity and quality of the applicants, I think we learn as much from the Phantoms as they do from us about what's needed to operationalize AI."

The application deadline to apply for the next Phantom Fellowship cohort is 9 a.m. EST on February 2, 2023.

For additional details on the Phantom program, to include how to apply, please visit the Phantom Program page here.