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Inaugural Generative AI Hackathon Launches Imaginations

The event was organized by an enthusiastic group of students organized by Reifschneider along with Vivek Rao, executive director of Duke Engineering’s new Design & Technology Innovation Master of Engineering Program. The group also received support from global AI leaders OpenAI and Microsoft in the form of generous AI compute credits for hackathon participants and larger amounts as prizes for the top teams. This allowed participants in the Hackathon to engage with, for example, OpenAI’s GPT-4 API, which would typically be difficult for students to access. The organizers also led a series of technical tutorials and hosted office hours throughout the weekend to help students build and code their ideas.

“The Hackathon was special as it gave me access to use the latest AI tools, at no cost, in a creative way for a special learning and building experience,” said Devin Shah, a senior in biomedical engineering.

Leaders of the GenAI Hackathon go over some basic information about the underlying technology before the hacking begins.

When dreaming up potential projects to pursue, however, the competition’s prompt wasn’t simply open-ended. Teams were encouraged to come up with uses for generative AI that would serve some sort of social or community service—a directive that students and sponsors alike could get behind.

“Encouraging the next generation to engage with AI technology in a hands-on way aligns perfectly with OpenAI’s mission to ensure AI benefits all of humanity,” said Shyamal Anadkat, MEng of AI ’22 graduate who is now an applied AI leader at OpenAI and supporter of the Hackathon.

“Events like the GenAI Hackathon really take what we learn in the classroom and push us to translate that into experiences and events for the community,” added Archit Kaila, a student in the MEng of AI program and one of the event’s organizers. “That’s something really special about being at Duke.”

Nearly 150 students from colleges across eastern North Carolina showed up to the inaugural GenAI Hackathon.

During the Hackathon, participants formed interdisciplinary teams to develop projects in one of five tracks: Health & Wellness, Education & Knowledge Management, Enterprise & Finance, Entertainment, Arts & Travel, and Social Impact, Sustainability & Environment, ultimately resulting in 32 completed projects by the end of the weekend. Eight judges representing Duke faculty and alumni worked in pairs to systematically evaluate them all and name finalists for each track, who presented their work to the entire audience.

“I was blown away by the creativity and execution behind all of the projects I saw,” said Andy Chan, GenAI Hackathon judge, Duke Fuqua MBA alum and CEO/Founder of ScriptScouts, a technology startup focusing on the pharmaceuticals space. “I love that while AI technology keeps advancing, students keep learning and building, and the Hackathon really shows that.”

Originally Appeared Here

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