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$100,000 Nittany Watson Challenge

Established in 2017, the Nittany Watson Challenge was the original incarnation of the Nittany AI Challenge. Teams of students, faculty, and staff competed for awards totaling $100,000 in grant money by utilizing IBM Watson to improve the student experience at Penn State.

The Challenge progressed through several phases – starting with idea generation, moving to prototype development, and ending with the creation of Minimum Viable Products (MVPs).

The 2017 Nittany Watson Challenge included representation, participation, and support from:

  • 6 Campuses
  • 8 Colleges
  • 30+ Departments
  • 12 Faculty
  • 24 Staff
  • 72 Students
  • 9 IBM Mentors

Our 2017 Minimum Viable Products

Collanote: Making Note-Taking Great Again 
Learning is a collaborative effort not only between students and professors, but between students themselves. Collanote provides a central hub for note-taking in each class, offering collaborative notes, full search capabilities, dynamic Q&A, and lecture transcription for students in real time on one shared document.

Intelligent Academic Advisor
The Intelligent Academic Advisor provides a question answering system able to help students with all their advising needs, using corpus-based knowledge dynamically collected and curated from the public data and documents of Penn State.

Penn State Student Connection
Penn State Student Connection will help new and existing students more fully engage in their campus and relevant activities by tailoring news and events to their preferences. It will serve as a central location for students to find or get to know people in their major and to keep them up to date with events tailored to their interests.

TransferMatch: Your best match for college credit.
This tool will provide intelligent pre-evaluation of transfer credits to prospective students, improving their experience and helping recruitment and retention efforts by providing vital information that prospects expect from an institution like Penn State.

Virtual Advisor
The Virtual Advisor offers an AI—powered assistant focused on alleviating student frustrations by providing timely advisement and augmenting Penn State's human advisors so they can focus on students facing unique challenges.

Email us for additional information on the 2017 MVPs. 

“The Nittany Watson Challenge was the highlight of my semester and had an overwhelmingly positive impact on my education. The Challenge gave me the opportunity to augment my theoretical experience with real-world team management, software engineering, technical writing, and product pitching. The knowledge and experience I’ve acquired has helped me to stand out to recruiters and hiring managers.”

– Adam Niederer, Penn State student
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