Success Story

HackPSU Challenges Students to Innovate with New Tech

College of Information Sciences and Technology students (L to R) Austin Gongora, Nitya Govind, Rommel Silva (front), Mukesh Kandamaran and Marshall Malino earned first place in two 2018 HackPSU challenges for their product AIODA, a chat bot that automatically answers students' frequently asked questions for advisers.

Held twice annually, HackPSU provides students with the opportunity to complete unique challenges for different companies in attendance. Students can opt to tackle several of the challenges or focus on one. The competition, a 24-hour social coding hackathon, brought 85 teams of Penn State students together to conceptualize, develop and present a product. Teams competed for various prizes through several challenges that focused on using different types of software or solving real-world company problems.

College of IST seniors Nitya Govind (IST), Austin Gongora (data sciences), and Mukesh Kandamaran (IST), and juniors Marshall Malino (data sciences) and Rommel Silva (IST) won first place in Google’s challenge for the best use of a Google Cloud platform and in the Nittany AI Alliance’s AI challenge, which encourages teams to develop an AI-based solution to a real-world problem at Penn State.

The group’s product, AIODA, which stands for Artificial Intelligence on Demand Advising, features a chat bot that automatically answers students’ frequently asked questions for advisers.

“We’ve all had trouble scheduling advising appointments,” said Govind. “But this isn’t just from the students’ point of view.”

She explained that while students complain that it’s sometimes hard to meet with advisers, advisers also want to focus on solving bigger problems and…

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