IST faculty, students well represented in Nittany AI Challenge finals

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Three of the five teams competing in the $100,000 Nittany AI Challenge finals include members from the College of Information Sciences and Technology. The challenge will conclude Sept. 5, when the teams will present their minimal viable products for a chance to earn funding from the remaining pool of $50,000.

In the challenge, teams use artificial intelligence platforms to develop and present AI-based solutions that improve the Penn State student experience, solve University problems or generate innovative startup ideas. Seventy-one teams began this year’s challenge, which kicked off during the spring 2018 semester.

The three finalist teams that include College of IST members are:

— From Micro to Macro: Applying Machine Learning to Scale Up Competency Based Learning at PSU — This tool integrates human and algorithmic grading capabilities to provide instant student feedback and reduce grader workload with an emphasis on evaluating digital badges. Jeff Rimland, assistant teaching professor, and undergraduate students Angela Demarco and Arianna Scheidell from the College of IST join their fellow team members Emily Rimland, information literacy librarian and learning technologies coordinator at University Libraries and Victoria Raish.

— Pathfinder: Recommending Course Pathways — This application uses machine learning algorithms to recommend effective course pathways, learning from past course enrollment and the performance data of other students. Dongwon Lee, associate professor in IST, and IST graduate students Thai Le, Yiming Liao and Jason Zhang comprise the Pathfinder team.

— ProFound, A Professor Search Engine — This solution retrieves public information about a professor and categorizes and populates it into a searchable portal for students to access. College of IST graduate students Shaurya Rohatgi, Neisarg Dave, and Mukund Srinath, along with Lee Giles, David Reese Professor of Information Sciences and Technology, make up the ProFound team.

The Nittany AI Challenge is hosted by the Nittany AI Alliance, formerly known as the Penn State EdTech Network.

Brad Zdenek, innovation strategist for the Nittany AI Alliance, said the Nittany AI Challenge offers students, faculty and staff at Penn State a unique opportunity to apply their skills, passion and drive to develop AI-based solutions to real-world problems that companies face every day.

“This year we have a particularly strong showing from the College of IST, as it is represented in three of our top five teams,” Zdenek said. “In addition to their success in the Nittany AI Challenge, we are excited — though not surprised — that the From Micro to Macro team will also be recognized as an exemplar of innovation in the New Media Consortium 2018 Horizon Report, Higher Education Edition. This honor highlights the innovative spirit and amazing accomplishments present in all of our teams.”

Last Updated August 31, 2018