Rose-Hulman Students Win IBM Watson Competition

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A team of students from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has again taken home top honors at a national programming competition. The IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) Great Mind Challenge - Watson Technical Edition features teams creating software that turns complex data into a single answer. November 19, 2013

News Release

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - A team of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology computer science and software engineering students has once again showcased keen programming and problem-solving skills by winning IBM's The Great Mind Challenge (TGMC) - Watson Technical Edition. The national competition was created to better prepare students for the challenges of the professional high-tech world.

For the second straight year TGMC focused on writing software that provided a learning model for Watson, the IBM-created software that won a Jeopardy exhibition match against champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in 2011. Watson is an engineering marvel consisting of hundreds of components that gather information from many sources with various confidence factors.

Collegiate teams were asked to write software that distills a complex set of data into a single answer.

Beating out 37 competing teams for first-place honors was the group that featured junior computer science and software engineering double majors Kenneth Faulkner and Teddy Sterne, junior software engineering student Gabe Glenn and senior mechanical engineering major Daniel Nam.

"There was an enormous amount of data that was gathered and processed in a short amount of time, and you had to consider several variables in coming up with the correct answer," said Glenn.

Sterne added, "This was extreme problem solving."

Another Rose-Hulman team placed third in the competition. Members of that team were senior computer science student Nick Kamper, senior computer science and mathematics double major Laura Moss, and junior software engineering and computer science double majors Frank Roetker and Jordon Phillips.

“The Great Mind Challenge has been aimed at graduate-level students, and that’s what makes our teams' achievements so gratifying,” stated Michael Wollowski, PhD, associate professor of computer science and software engineering. He noted that Rose-Hulman had four of the top nine placing teams, and eight of the top 19, in the preliminary training phase of the competition.

Wollowski incorporated the challenge into his fall academic quarter artificial intelligence course.

"Several of the machine learning algorithms were quite complex and needed to utilize some of the most powerful computers on campus," stated the professor.

"Lessons learned throughout the class built up to this project. It was quite a learning experience," said Roetker.

In other competitions involving computer science and software engineering students, Rose-Hulman's Cyber Defense Team placed third in the 2013 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition and a team represented the United States at the 2013 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) World Finals.

About Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Founded in 1874, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is dedicated to preparing its students with the world’s best undergraduate science, engineering, and mathematics education in an environment infused with innovation, intellectual rigor, and individualized attention. The college, located in Terre Haute, Indiana, has an enrollment of approximately 2,000 undergraduate students and 100 graduate students. For 15 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has rated Rose-Hulman as the top undergraduate engineering college in the nation whose highest degree is a bachelor's or master's. Rose-Hulman has also been recognized by The Princeton Review, which cited six of the institute's professors within their 2012 Best 300 Professors book, the only institution of higher learning in Indiana to be included. Learn more at www.rose-hulman.edu.

Source: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology