About the Challenge

The Nittany AI Challenge represents an unparalleled opportunity for teams of undergraduate Penn State students to leverage AI technology to make the world a better place. Participants can gain hands-on experience working with a team while learning about AI technologies from leading industry experts. It’s a great way to develop entrepreneurial ideas, build out a résumé, explore a capstone project, and practice valuable soft skills including leadership, collaboration, and communication.

The Nittany AI Challenge theme is AI for Good. Submissions should offer innovative and impactful applications of AI in one of the following pillars:

Maximize student achievement and improve teacher productivity, using AI to drive an increase in access to educational opportunities and/or a reduction in time and cost to earn a degree.

Improve environmental quality and reduce natural resource depletion, using AI to decrease the impact of major contributors to our planet’s climate change challenges.

Advance the pursuit of human health, using AI to ensure healthy lives, improve nutrition, achieve food security, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Advance the pursuit of human prosperity and happiness and address humanitarian challenges at home and globally through the development of innovative solutions leveraging AI.

Why compete in the Challenge?

Expand education beyond classroom learning
Build on foundational classroom learning and explore opportunities for a unique capstone project.

Work with leading AI platforms and companies
Gain invaluable real-world experience working with cutting-edge AI platforms and take advantage of free training resources from industry leaders.

Secure funding for an AI–focused startup
Compete against teams of entrepreneurs through three rounds of judging, receiving funding along the way to refine and develop an AI solution.

Make a lasting impact on the world
Work side-by-side with faculty, staff, and students to create scalable AI–based solutions to help impact the world.

How the Challenge works

Undergraduate students with a wide breadth of skill sets will work together as a team on an AI–related solution. Participants can create teams, recruit members, and search for project teams using the Challenge Team Tool, and each team will be required to work with a faculty adviser as they develop their AI solution.

The Challenge is divided into three phases:

Idea Phase (phase one) — Teams submit a short proposal describing both the challenge they intend to address and the AI technology they will leverage in the creation of their solution.

Prototype Phase (phase two) — Teams selected to advance will have the opportunity to demonstrate a functioning prototype of their AI solution.

MVP Phase (phase three) — Finalists will submit minimum viable products (MVPs) for judging and awarding of seed money for additional development.