The Nittany Watson Challenge Demo Day showcased products that tackled problems Penn State students face on a daily basis using the power of IBM Watson. After ten prototypes were presented in April, five teams were awarded another round of grant money to build their minimum viable product (MVP). Over the course of seven months of development, interspersed amongst other responsibilities, the top five MVP’s were presented to a select group of Penn State faculty, staff, and students.
“The Nittany Watson Challenge was just an idea a year and a half ago and today, we witnessed the capability of Watson through these innovative solutions,” said EdTech Network director, Daren Coudriet. “When each team originally presented their idea, they didn’t know where they’d end up. We are pleased to see the results, from a business startup idea, to solutions that can benefit Penn State and Higher Ed, the teams exceeded our expectations.”
Each team’s MVP was operational and functional during the Demo Day and allowed for users to test out each interface in real-time. The teams used various capabilities of IBM Watson to build their products which included a collaborative note-taking platform, academic advisor bots, student connection dashboard, and a pre-evaluation tool of transfer credits. Each product proved the potential for artificial intelligence to improve student success both within and outside the classroom at Penn State.
“From an IBM standpoint, we think each team did a great job over the course of the Nittany Watson Challenge,” said on-campus IBMer, Rich Prewitt. “AI is a benefit to us all, not a replacement to what we do every day. Each team harnessed the capability of Watson to create solutions that are guaranteed to impact the student experience in a positive way.”
After analyzing the inaugural Nittany Watson Challenge event, the Penn State EdTech Network is focused on enhancing and expanding the competition for future years. With an increased focus on the intersection of AI and higher education, the EdTech Network will act a facilitator to help the teams navigate where they want to go next.
“We are providing uncommon opportunities for our community,” said EdTech Network innovation strategist, Brad Zdenek. “As opportunities are emerging across the University and with EdTech Network partners, it is always top of mind for us to find those connections and bring them together for an entrepreneurial students’ benefit.”