News Article

Tempe startup Fireline Science awarded competitive grant to improve online learning
Date: Jun 15, 2021
Author: Abby Sharpe
Source: AZ Tech Beat ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Fireline Science LLC of Tempe, AZ

New Tempe-based startup Fireline Science has been awarded a competitive National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant.

Every year, America's Seed Fund, powered by NSF, awards $200 million to startups and small businesses that work to create products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups in science and technology can receive up to $2 million to support research and development.

The grant provides Fireline Science with seed funding for research and development on a new technical framework for an edge-based learning management system (LMS) that will work in completely offline or suboptimal online student environments. Fireline Science uses data science to enable product management and development, with a special focus on Edtech.

The digital divide and lack of access to high-speed Internet came under the spotlight during the Covid-19 pandemic, when schools across the country moved to online learning. Students and their families in rural areas experienced the weight of the digital divide when students were unable to participate fully in digital learning. And, as many schools ready to resume in-person learning come fall, some want to continue to use digital learning at home to provide enhanced learning opportunities and continuity of learning when students can't be physically present.

The culmination of these issues gave way to Fireline Science, which focuses on educational technology products and using AI and data science to drive innovation. Collin Sellman, CEO of Fireline Science, said the company started as a result of first-hand experience with the digital divide.

"We began this project based on my father's experience as a principal of a Native American K-6 boarding school," Sellman said in a statement. "When the Covid-19 crisis began, he had no viable digital learning solutions for his students and had to rely on bus drivers delivering paper packets to provide continuity of learning."

"We are confident that our deep experience in data science, AI and building next-generation, large-scale learning management systems will allow us to develop a fundamentally new approach for offline student learning to help the students currently being left behind," Sellman continued.

Fireline Science will use the NSF grant to develop a fundamentally new engineering approach that relies on intelligent agents at the edge, a cloud-based management system, and new web capabilities enabled by Chromium's Project Fugu.

Fireline Science is working to provide a near-term solution to digital learning at home as high-speed internet infrastructure reaches rural areas, as well as a solution for students who don't have internet access due to a number of other circumstances.