Mathew and I participated in the Nittany AI Challenge twice, and while the decision to enter the first time around with LionPlanner was easy — a friend brought it up as a possibility and our team had a “why not?” mindset — the decision to enter the Challenge the second time with Revu was a different story. We knew that it would demand a tremendous amount of time and effort, not to mention our team was a third of the size. But what we also knew from our experience was that the Nittany AI Challenge is an invaluable chance to learn and grow in countless areas including collaboration, networking, presentation, and technical skills. The list goes on and on, which made it clear to us that the benefits outweighed any struggles we would face.
One of the aspects of the Challenge that brought us back a second time is the experience of fully developing an idea into an MVP in an environment that resembles the “real world” much more closely than any class project. If you talk to teams from past Challenges, there is no doubt you’ll hear this sentiment echoed each time. The unique structure of the Challenge allowed us to safely take risks and make mistakes, but also held us accountable for them. When developing LionPlanner, our first team initially set out with some pretty idealistic goals that we came to learn were too ambitious for the scope of the Challenge. Luckily for us, the mentors we met through Nittany AI helped us to adjust these goals to be more realistic and focused, which was a great lesson in pivoting and honing in on the most important core of our project.
This time around, with Revu, our team went into the Challenge with a much more realistic approach, and as a result, our development process has been significantly smoother with far fewer bumps and surprises.
It’s difficult to summarize everything we’ve gained from the Nittany AI Challenge. It’s taught us how to learn, how to work, and how to do so with a project and a cause we care about. It’s safe to say that us coming back to compete in the Nittany AI Challenge a second time speaks volumes about how much we value the experience.