Artificial Intelligence

Penn State Students Compete to Improve the Student Experience with AI Tools

woman using smart phone with artificial intelligence icons overlaid

Ten student teams at Pennsylvania State University are competing to develop artificial intelligence solutions as part of the institution's Nittany AI Challenge, a program offering a total of $50,000 in prizes for "developing AI–based solutions that improve the Penn State student experience and/or university operations." Each team, having passed through an idea phase and prototype phase of the competition, will now receive $1,500 from the Nittany AI Alliance to create a minimum viable product (MVP) that addresses "real-world problems facing students at the university."

The teams moving into the MVP phase are:

  • Revu, an AI tool that generates multiple-choice quizzes to help students stay focused on reading assignments and test their comprehension of key concepts;
  • AIODA (AI On-Demand Advising), a chatbot that "utilizes machine learning to help students answer on-demand academic questions and serves as a pre-screening tool for advisors";
  • CourseCat, a "smart" course catalog that "uses natural language processing to make course recommendations and help students explore courses based on their content";
  • LionPad, a tool for navigating the student housing process that helps connect users with living situations to suit their needs;
  • Deep Sign, "designed to tackle communication issues for the aurally challenged, with the goal of enhancing the quality and clarity of interaction with others through the assistance of AI";
  • uApplication, an "online marketplace to search for counselors and mentors who can help with admissions consulting" based on a student's profile, interests, personality, etc.;
  • Resilient Resumes, an application that uses AI to guide students through the process of creating an effective resume;
  • EngagePSU, "designed to make it easier to navigate different aspects of campus life like joining a club, doing field research, or attending a campus event, by providing up-to-date information in one location";
  • NSO QuickAdvisor, a virtual assistant for answering common advising questions; and
  • AleMS (AI Energy Management System), an app for Penn State building managers to "gather insights with a goal of creating sustainable campuses."

During the Challenge, companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle will offer hands-on workshops to help students with AI development. Select teams from the MVP phase will be awarded additional funding for the future advancement of their projects.

"Students working on solutions using AI technology are getting experience in applying their skills, passion and drive to problems that have real meaning to Penn State," said Brad Zdenek, innovation strategist for the Nittany AI Alliance, in a statement. "Whether through taking on the enormous task of managing energy use or leveraging AI to build a better course material reading experience, our top 10 teams exemplify the innovative spirit of our community and the potential power of AI to improve our lives."

More information is available on the Nittany AI Challenge site.

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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