Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Bri Connelly, student, The University of Texas at Austin

Bri Connelly, student, The University of Texas at Austin

By Bri Connelly

I just got back to Austin from a whirlwind trip to New York City where my classmates from The University of Texas at Austin and I stayed in an Airbnb on the Lower East Side, visited the September 11 Memorial and ate meals at as many different restaurants as we could pack into a short stay. The centerpiece of the trip, though, was the day we spent at IBM Watson Group headquarters at 51 Astor Place competing in the first-ever IBM Watson University Competition.

Last Friday, we were among teams from eight notable universities who showcased prototype apps we had built using Watson, IBM’s cognitive computing technology.  It was like being on an episode of Shark Tank – the judging was really tough. And our app won!

I was really stunned when we were chosen as the winners. Not that I had doubts about the quality of our idea; but it was incredible to compete in the final round against really smart people from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Toronto who also had great ideas.

Our business idea and app, “CallScout”, enables people in need of help to download an app to a smartphone, use it to conduct a typed conversation with Watson, and get information about social services in their community. (Eventually, people will be able to interact via texting, as well.) Topics might include health care, food pantries, temporary housing and other government and non-profit services. We’re hoping to launch a pilot of the app with the United Way of Austin by the end of summer.

YouTube Preview Image

As a senior computer science major, I got involved in this project because I’m interested in cognitive computing. Last semester, I took the course Automated Questioning and Answering, which is all about  IBM Watson technology. A key element of the course was to learn by doing, not just by hearing or reading. Our class actually got to work with our own private cloud instance of Watson. The competition became a really important aspect of our learning. We worked in teams to identify and create real-world use cases for how cognitive technologies can be put into practice to solve a societal need.

This experience taught me an important lesson about the potential of technology to have an impact on people’s lives. So many smart, young people are working in companies on apps or services that are designed for people like them–young, well-educated, relatively affluent people. That’s all well and good, but we can do so much more and reach a far more diverse group of individuals that can benefit from these important technologies. We’ve shown with our project in this class that we really can change the world.

A little bit of background on me: I grew up in privilege in Portland, Oregon, and Austin, TX. My dad’s a tech guy. When I was a kid I was aware that many people were less well-off, but last September the potential of technology to help society came into focus for me. It happened when I watched the documentary movie, American Winter, which profiles American families who are struggling day-to-day to pay for their heat, rent and food. Watching it was an emotionally wrenching experience.

I saw that helping to solve those families’ problems would be a good use for Watson, and I took that idea to the class. About half of my classmates formed a team to do it.

Now that the competition is over, I look at what  a great experience it was. We learned a lot about technology and how to work as a team. And in this day of start-ups, we also learned a great skill –  how to fund and launch a business.  And yes, we do plan on pushing the application forward, because unfortunately, we know that just about every town or city in America could use it.

To be honest, before we won we didn’t really think much about actually forming a business to commercialize CallScout. But last Sunday the 12 of us on the team had a meeting to discuss its future. We’re now thinking seriously about creating a startup.. As the winners, we will get access to a $100,000 investment seed fund sponsored by IBM Watson Group and The Entrepreneurs’ Fund to help launch it.  And we hope to join the Longhorn Startup Lab, a program at UT that helps foster entrepreneurship.

I don’t know what will come of all of this. But I’m sure of one thing: This is the first thing I have ever done in technology that’s really helping people. I won’t stop now.

Bookmark and Share

Previous post

Next post

16 Comments
 
April 30, 2016
9:35 pm

Haave you ever considered about including a little bit more than just you articles?
I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. But imagine if you added
sokme great photos or videos to give your posts more, “pop”!
Your content is excellent butt with images and video clips, thiss website could certainlpy
be one of the most beneficial in its niche. Very good
blog!


Posted by: Winter Sports online free betting
 
April 1, 2016
4:07 am

you are indeed tapped education students and use the right way how to take advantage of computer science that has been learned, because maybe not everyone can afford, may be immediately reached your destination with ease


Posted by: Jasa SEO
 
April 1, 2016
4:04 am

refinance your existing loans at a better rate, check out It’s the first ever search engine for loans that allows you to search, compare, and find the best loan in under 30 seconds — all for free


Posted by: biaya jasa seo
 
March 24, 2016
9:05 am

This is good tnxx


Posted by: العاب تلبيس بنات
 
February 15, 2016
9:22 pm

Wow This is great tnx
العاب بنات


Posted by: العاب الطبخ
 
February 11, 2016
4:09 pm

Ilove this l3ezz bik khay


Posted by: العاب تلبيس
 
January 20, 2016
8:18 am

thanks for sharing


Posted by: psiphon for pc
 
October 9, 2015
2:40 am

Learning Everyday!


Posted by: Bluefield.com.tw
 
August 13, 2015
7:40 am

Ich schätze die Art und Weise Sie den Gesamtgehalt geschrieben haben. bundesligalivestreams.org/ ist etwas , das ich in der gleichen Weise geschrieben.


Posted by: dip
 
July 12, 2015
9:31 am

you are indeed tapped education students and use the right way how to take advantage of computer science that has been learned, because maybe not everyone can afford, may be immediately reached your destination with ease


Posted by: new year 2016
 
June 22, 2015
11:49 pm

Thank you for taking the time to this information very useful!


Posted by: OutfitterJackets Harley Davidson Jacket
 
April 18, 2015
2:38 pm

Also, if you’re looking to find the best student loan for you or to refinance your existing loans at a better rate, check out http://www.AchieveLending.com. It’s the first ever search engine for loans that allows you to search, compare, and find the best loan in under 30 seconds — all for free.


Posted by: Allen Kors
 
March 25, 2015
5:35 am

Good post, Good Blog.


Posted by: David John
 
March 20, 2015
7:00 am

you are indeed tapped education students and use the right way how to take advantage of computer science that has been learned, because maybe not everyone can afford, may be immediately reached your destination with ease


Posted by: gamis model terbaru murah
 
March 20, 2015
1:22 am

nice o


Posted by: naseer 1
 
January 19, 2015
6:21 pm

Bri – thank you so much for the effort you and your team have put into this app to-date, and best wishes for your success in the future.

The issue you have addressed is one with which a number of countries are struggling – how to ensure that people are connected with the services they need, when they need them, in the most effective manner possible. The next step is how to ensure that the services are helping individuals long term to achieve the outcomes they desire – in most cases as much self-sufficiency as is possible. (The latter being an area in which IBM has solutions and expertise in the market now.)

I look forward to a time when we might put the best of our solutions together for the good of a constituency!


Posted by: Suzi Shaw Lyons
 
6 Trackbacks
 
January 3, 2016
11:08 am

[…] 기반 앱 개발 경진 대회 (영문) http://asmarterplanet.com/blog/2015/01/college-students-watson-can-help-change-world.html <내용 요약>: 텍사스대학교에 재학 중인 브리 코넬리(Bri Connelly)라는 […]


Posted by: » 인공지능, 어디까지 왔니? .. IBM 왓슨에게 묻다
 
June 11, 2015
7:29 am

[…] opened up for bright young brains with the implementation of the ‘Watson University programs’. Bri Connelly and her classmates from the University of Texas recently won the first competition held with their […]


Posted by: Elementary my dear robot Dr Watson | i-health
 
May 6, 2015
12:50 am

[…] 왓슨 웰포인트 및 메모리얼 슬론 케터링 암센터 협업 (영문) 08 Feb 2013: IBM Watson Hard At Work: New Breakthroughs Transform Quality Care for Patients 왓슨 기반 앱 개발 경진 대회 (영문) http://asmarterplanet.com/blog/2015/01/college-students-watson-can-help-change-world.html […]


Posted by: 인공지능, 어디까지 왔니? .. IBM 왓슨에게 묻다 - VentureSquare
 
March 26, 2015
11:26 am

[…] Read more […]


Posted by: The Watson University Competition | ibmwatsonweb
 
January 21, 2015
6:41 am

[…] Posted by Steve Hamm Written by Bri Connelly, student at The University of Texas Article was originally posted here […]


Posted by: How College Students and Watson Can Help Change the World | Education Insights
 
January 15, 2015
3:29 pm

[…] The students are the first winners of IBM’s Watson University Competition under which the company partnered with schools in an effort to spark fresh ideas around Watson cognitive computing technology. The students, who accessed Watson via their classrooms and the cloud, were challenged to create an app and business plan that exploited Watson’s superhuman ability to digest mounds of data and answer queries (see a blog post on IBM’s website written by one of the University of Texas at Austin students). […]


Posted by: Ceiba3D Studio | University of Texas Team Hooks $100K in IBM Watson App Contest
 
Post a Comment