2018 Nittany AI Challenge winners provide EdTech solutions, receive $50,000

October 19, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Nittany AI Challenge offers teams of students, faculty and staff the chance to compete for grants by developing and presenting AI-based solutions that solve real-world problems and improve the student experience and/or University operations at Penn State. The winners of the 2018 Nittany AI Challenge, presented by the Nittany AI Alliance, have been selected from a pool of teams representing 10 Commonwealth Campuses, 16 colleges and more than 35 departments. Each of these teams already won $7,500 through the first two rounds of the competition.

$30,000 Winner: LionPlanner

LionPlanner is a web application that simplifies academic planning by providing students with full, modifiable plans for all their semesters and consolidating all the resources and requirements they need for the process.

Team members are Benjamin Proto, engineering; Matthew Mancini, engineering; Michael Roos, team lead, engineering; Dylan Shoemaker, engineering; Thanh Tran, engineering; Quinn Verbeke, engineering; Christina Warren, arts and architecture; and faculty adviser Wang-Chien Lee, engineering.

Team members (pictured from left to right): Shaurya Rohatgi (team lead, Information Sciences & Technology), Mukund Srinath (Information Sciences & Technology), and Neisarg Dave (Information Sciences & Technology). Not pictured: Dr. C Lee Giles (Faculty Advisor, Information Sciences & Technology).

ProFound team members (left to right) include team lead Shaurya Rohatgi, Mukund Srinath and Neisarg Dave. Not pictured is C Lee Giles, faculty adviser.

IMAGE: Penn State

$10,000 Winner: ProFound – A Professor Search Engine

ProFound is a solution that retrieves all publicly available information about a professor and intelligently categorizes and populates it into a portal that students can access to search for a professor by name and/or research area.

Team members include Neisarg Dave, team lead Shaurya Rohatgi, Mukund Srinath, and faculty adviser C. Lee Giles, all of information sciences and technology.

Team members (pictured from left to right): Tyler Spagnolo (team lead, Engineering), Isabelle Biase (Engineering), and Shane Hepner (Engineering). Not pictured: Dr. Montgomery Alger (Faculty Advisor, Engineering)

Aspire team members (left to right) include Tyler Spagnolo, Isabelle Biase and Shane Hepner. Not pictured is faculty adviser Montgomery Alger.

IMAGE: Penn State

$10,000 Winner: Aspire

Aspire is an application to help students map out their college careers by providing recommendations on experiences and skills needed to achieve their dream jobs post-graduation.

Team members include Isabelle Biase, Shane Hepner, team lead Tyler Spagnolo, and faculty adviser Montgomery Alger, all of engineering.

"The challenge has provided me with an incredible real-world experience that you don’t usually get in a classroom,” said Penn State student and Aspire team member Isabelle Biase. “Developing an idea into a functioning prototype taught me first-hand about the development process, working with a team, and pitching to investors as if our team was a startup company. In addition to technical skills, the challenge required creative thinking, problem solving, communication and leadership — all of which are necessary skills for the future job market."

The challenge is composed of three distinct phases. The 2019 Ideation Phase begins with a workshop Nov. 12 at Happy Valley LaunchBox. Experience with development and artificial intelligence is not required, only the willingness to think creatively coupled with the ambition to solve problems.

The challenge is open to Penn State students, faculty and staff and culminates in Sept. 2019, with the aim of accelerating adoption of AI technologies, and sparking creative, innovative ideas. Idea submissions for the Challenge are due Jan. 29, 2019. This is one of two Ideation Workshops being offered. Please note that registration is required for this event challenge.

Key deadlines for the 2019 competition are highlighted below:

Idea phase deadline – Jan. 29, 2019

Participants submit a short proposal describing the challenge they’re addressing and how they’ll use AI to develop their solution. Up to 20 proposals are selected to receive $500 grants to assist in the development of prototypes for the next phase.

Prototype Phase Deadline – April 2, 2019

This phase requires the submission of a prototype. Up to 10 prototype submissions are awarded $1,500 grants to further develop a minimum viable product (MVP) for the third phase of the challenge.

MVP Phase Deadline – Aug. 2, 2019

The third phase includes the development and submission of a minimum viable product (MVP) based on the original proposed solution. Grants from a pool of $25,000 will be distributed during a pitch competition with the potential for future development and application.

For more information about the Nittany AI Challenge please visit challenge.nittanyai.psu.edu. The Nittany AI Alliance, a Penn State Outreach initiative, provides students with meaningful engagement opportunities to prepare them to lead in a world shaped by artificial intelligence.

Last Updated November 10, 2018