Annual CPP AI 48-hour Hackathon concludes its fierce competition

By Scotty Ninh, April 16, 2024

The Artificial Intelligence for a Better Future 48-hour Hackathon concluded Wednesday, April 10 where several student teams were challenged to find new ways to use AI in various industries such as hospitality, education and architecture.

The AI Hackathon has been an ongoing annual competition, one of which is unique to Cal Poly Pomona. The competition was held virtually where students from various departments and academic backgrounds were able to meet via Zoom and create a presentation in which they would pitch solutions utilizing AI to fix certain issues within specific industries.

“I think it sets us apart from the other schools,” said Nate Poremba, a marketing management student and team networking manager. “Our dean of the College of Business Administration is very forward thinking about how AI is going to impact universities.”

One of the biggest aspects of this competition is how it prepares students to apply such new and emerging technology for real world situations.

Competitors who did not have a computer science background or technical expertise in AI also acknowledged that participating in this event has improved their understanding on how AI can potentially enhance workflows and bring changes to various industries.

Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Ph.D., singelyn family dean of the College of Business Administration presenting at the AI Hackathon kickoff event. | Christopher C. Neprasch

“I don’t have the technical background that a lot of people do, but I found that there are lots of different ways that you can use AI,” said Poremba.

In addition to utilizing AI, the Hackathon challenges required students to work in group settings pitch solution to industries to real world issues that industries face, which are skills that could attract employers.

“I feel like even if you aren’t directly working with AI during the event, I think participating in an event like this looks amazing on your resume just because employers really like when you can work with a diverse group of people,” said Kayla Tang, a computer science student and kickoff event spokesperson.

According to Stephanie Pocci, a computer science student and the Hackathon’s outreach intern, the event sponsor, Avanade, is also scoping out potential additions to its teams within the sea of competitors, giving students even more motivation to secure first place and potentially a job right out of college.

Avanade, following the AI Hackathon’s scoring criteria, granted bonus points to teams consisting of students from diverse departments. This incentivized students to explore unconventional AI approaches they might not have considered previously.

“I would say this event provides more diversity within STEM,” Pocci said. “You don’t get a lot of creative ideas to go around, so I think this event, especially with incorporating other majors provides a lot of different diverse ideas, backgrounds and viewpoints, and I’m really excited to see what everyone comes up with.”

The Hackathon’s finalists will be presenting their pitches in person April 17 at the AI Fair and will go through a second panel of judges who will determine the victor.

Feature image courtesy of Christopher C. Neprasch.

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