Cornell University and IBM have announced the winners of the second Watson Academic Case Competition.
Similar to the case competition hosted at The University of Rochester this past spring, the IBM/Cornell contest challenged students to submit proposals outlining how the Watson technology could be applied to solve complex challenges in professional fields including human resources, customer service and R&D. The 17 teams comprised a diverse range of skill sets, including students with backgrounds in marketing, computer science, engineering, economics and entrepreneurship, among other fields.
Three winning ideas were selected by a panel of judges comprised of faculty and IBM experts.
· First Place: Customer Service: Say Hello to Watson – Every day, consumers with urgent questions about their electronic devices, call, e-mail, post and chat with customer service representatives. The answers to their questions are often elusive and require long wait times with less than 50% of first calls being resolved. The first place team created a case for Watson to look at unstructured and structured information to help consumer electronics firms answer inquiries with greater accuracy and faster response times ultimately creating happy customers.
· Second Place: Watson Helps You Plan Your Next Beach Getaway Faster – Today’s traveler has access to an overwhelming amount of information for planning business trips and vacations, including websites that aggregate flight and hotel rates, tourism sites packed with things to do, and millions of online reviews from fellow travelers. The second place team developed a system that would help travelers make better, faster decisions, using Watson’s ability to analyze massive amounts of information and recommend the best options.
· Third Place: You’re Hired! Big Data Helping HR – The third place team developed an adaptive human capital management model that calls upon Watson’s ability to quickly comb through data and make informed recommendations, to help businesses match open jobs with the best candidates.
Watson Faculty Award Winners
IBM also announced the winners of its 2012 Watson Solutions Faculty Award Program, where ten university professors from across the country will each receive $10,000 grants to implement Watson based curriculums. The ten winning proposals include introductory-to-graduate level courses designed to apply cognitive computing technologies in areas as healthcare and environmental sustainability.
Andrew Rosenberg, City University of New York City (CUNY) – A new graduate course called Advanced Natural Language Processing introducing students to state-of-the-art NLP methods, while challenging them to present critiques and conduct practical experiments applying the techniques to problems.
Nitesh Chawla, University of Notre Dame – An inter-disciplinary course through which students learn to apply technical concepts to health care problems, while local healthcare providers, health exchanges and researchers provide real world perspective.
Wullianallur Raghupathi, Fordham University –A new capstone course to be launched as part of the university’s M.S. in Business Analytics Program, enabling group-based learning around specific industry/domain areas such as healthcare and finance, utilizing the Watson architecture/framework.
Heng Ji, University of New York City (CUNY) – A new course providing a knowledge foundation in Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Cognitive Computing, also providing skill development at the intersection of NLP and Machine Learning via cognitive computing.
Andrey Soares, Southern Illinois University –Carbondale – A new introductory course to help prepare healthcare and IT professionals to support the process of representing healthcare knowledge for use with cognitive systems.
Diego Klabjan, Northwestern University – As part of the emerging Master of Science in Analytics program, a new course focusing on big data analytics based on Hadoop, specifically devoted to Watson.
Girish Punj, University of Connecticut (UCONN) – A new experiential learning course through which students from a variety of academic disciplines work as a team on a semester-length project focusing on the potential business applications and capabilities of Watson.
Zsuzsanna Fluck, Michigan State University (MSU) – an interdisciplinary program introducing students from business, science, engineering and other fields to cutting-edge disruptive technologies, their business applications, and how new technologies can transform businesses, industries and lives.
Noushin Ashrafi, University of Massachusetts – Boston –Courses that incorporate the building blocks of the Watson framework, offered via the Information Architecture track within UMASS Boston’s Information Technology undergraduate program.
IBM is working with more than 200 academic organizations around the world specifically in the area of analytics, big data and cognitive computing.