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AI Hackathon Spurs Innovation and Inspires Future Applications

On May 24, the Office of Information Technology sponsored a two-day AI (Artificial Intelligence) Hackathon event. The Hackathon brought together OIT staff members from diverse backgrounds and skill sets with the common goal of leveraging ChatGPT to drive innovation and improve efficiencies in technology.

The purpose of this event was “to provide an environment for teams to collaborate and learn how to use ChatGPT to advance the University’s strategic goals,” says Max Davis-Johnson, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

The Hackathon created an environment that encouraged collaboration and learning among OIT staff. As AI becomes increasingly accessible, this Hackathon emphasized the importance of embracing AI tools like ChatGPT to unlock new possibilities.

Participants were empowered to solve IT system problems, enhance efficiencies, and explore innovative applications of ChatGPT. Regardless of prior experience, the event aimed to provide valuable insights and a solid foundation for utilizing AI tools in various contexts.

The Hackathon was fortunate to have Casey Kennington, a Computer Science faculty member, share his expertise and provide valuable guidance to the participants. Kennington’s involvement not only enriched the event but he also empowered the OIT staff to dive into AI development and application.

Phil Merrell, Assistant Director of Innovation and Academic Systems, adds, “We were so grateful to have Casey Kennington speak to our staff. He was very generous to offer his time and prepare code and examples for our staff.”

Several teams participated in the Hackathon, demonstrating their creativity and technical skills by developing exciting prototypes. These prototypes showcased the diverse potential applications of ChatGPT within the University’s context.

Some of the prototypes included:

  • Multilingual Course Catalog Translation: A team focused on utilizing AI to translate Boise State’s course catalog into multiple languages. This project aimed to make the catalog more accessible to a broader audience, enhancing inclusivity and facilitating international student engagement.
  • Personalized Admissions Information: Using admissions data, a team worked on developing a system to provide tailored information to prospective students. By leveraging AI algorithms, this project aimed to deliver personalized insights and guidance, assisting prospective students in making informed decisions about their academic journey at Boise State.
  • Tier 1 Help Support Chat Bots: A team explored the implementation of chatbots to enhance the University’s tier 1 help support system. Leveraging AI technology, these chatbots aimed to provide efficient and personalized assistance to users, streamlining the support process and improving user satisfaction.
  • Neutralizing Negative Feedback on myBoiseState: Addressing the issue of negative feedback on the new myBoiseState platform, a team sought to develop an AI-powered solution that captures the salient points without the negative tone. This project aimed to extract valuable feedback while maintaining a constructive and respectful environment for users.
  • Prioritizing Printing Reports: A team focused on interpreting printing reports to identify and prioritize the highest-priority printing tasks. This project aimed to optimize resource allocation and streamline the printing process across the university.
  • Enhancing Learning Outcomes: Another project aimed to improve the wording, consistency, and measurability of learning outcomes. By using AI-based natural language processing, this team sought to enhance the clarity and effectiveness of learning outcomes, enabling better assessment and measurement of student progress.

“In the short term, our department has a good foundational knowledge of this technology that has captured the public’s attention in recent months. In the long term, we are well-poised to be resilient, responsive, and demonstrate leadership as generative AI continues to evolve,” comments Leif Nelson, Executive Director of Learning Technology Solutions.

The Hackathon served as a catalyst for OIT staff to develop a deeper understanding of AI’s potential in solving Boise State’s challenges. As the barriers to entry for AI continue to diminish, Boise State is well-positioned to incorporate AI in addressing its unique challenges. The Hackathon has set the stage for further exploration, empowering the university to look to AI as a transformative tool for enhancing its operations and providing valuable solutions in the future.

*ChatGPT aided in the writing of this post.