Campus News

10th annual Computer Science Day focuses on AI-enabled learning

Students at UGA share their research during the poster session of Franklin College’s 10th annual CS Day. (Photo by Katie Cowart)

Faculty members, students and visitors gathered for the 10th annual Computer Science Day hosted by the University of Georgia’s computer science department and Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

The program began with a keynote speech followed by a trivia competition, panel discussion and poster session for students.

“CS Day offers a unique opportunity for computer science students to learn about visionary research ideas from the leaders at the keynote and panel sessions and also discuss their current research with peers, faculty and the wider campus community to get valuable face-to-face feedback at the poster session,” said Ismailcem Arpinar, associate professor of computer science at UGA.

Ashok Goel, professor of computer science and cognitive science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, gave the keynote speech on AI-enabled learning. Goel conducts research into artificial intelligence and cognitive science with a focus on computational design and, more recently, AI-powered learning and education. He has helped develop a completely online master’s program in computer science at Georgia Tech that uses AI tutors and teaching assistants to facilitate learning for anyone anywhere.

“We found that students learned best when someone was responding to their questions before they lost interest or moved onto a new problem,” said Goel. “We developed Jill Watson, an AI teaching assistant, to automatically answer questions.”

Goel’s team used the three measurements of coverage, correctness and authenticity to judge Watson’s effectiveness.

“At first, she was clunky and gave some incorrect answers, but she learned from the other real TA’s answers and the students,” said Goel. “We had students nominate Jill for TA of the Year at the end of their courses. They were surprised when we told them she was an AI.”

Goel and his team at Georgia Tech are now working on expanding their AI programs to facilitate other learning ecosystems. Agent Smith is a new AI agent built just to make clones of Watson for other teachers. They have also developed virtual labs where Watson acts as a research assistant by asking questions back to help researchers develop their ideas.

The panel discussion focused on distinguishing between the hype and the reality of AI and Big Data. In addition to Goel, panelists included Chao Zhang, assistant professor of computer science at Georgia Tech; Amit Sheth, founding director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute and professor of computer science at the University of South Carolina; and Manchon U,  vice president of engineering, data strategy & transformation at American Express.

The panel focused on topics such as the AI revolution that began in the past couple of years; the biggest challenges of AI and data science; the impact of AI technologies on society; and whether AI zombies could ever be a widely embraced phenomenon. Panelists addressed these topics and opened the floor to questions afterward.

Students at UGA prepared posters for the perusal of faculty and visitors. Posters covered a variety of topics from new algorithms to address traffic congestion to salt marsh plant identification and segmentation.

“The poster session enables our students to establish valuable social connections with peers, faculty and leaders in a broad cross-section of industries, which could lead to internships, future long-term employment and other opportunities for the students,” said Arpinar.