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Central Washington University

CWU Rolls Out New Wildcat-centric Alexa Devices

Monday, March 9, 2020

Bob Rapp addressing CWU studentsAlexa can now help students with their class schedules, find the date of a campus event or a host of other questions related to Central Washington University’s Ellensburg campus. A public unveiling of this innovation will be held Tuesday, March 10, at 2 p.m. in Bouillon 202.

The popular personal assistant device has these capabilities because of a partnership involving the university’s Computer Science and Information Technology and Administrative Management departments, and the consulting firm Hybrid Cloud Gurus.

Through this effort, CWU computer science seniors have been developing ways to customize the popular cloud-based voice service to make it more campus- and student-centric. The initial work involved identifying commonly-asked questions by students on the Ellensburg campus, along with developing answers for an Alexa skill.

“The students not only received hands-on experience on developing and implementing new technologies but also learn how to bring their innovative ideas to market,” said Andreas Bohman, CWU Operations vice president, which supplied the Echo Dot devices needed for the project. “This is a great example of how we as a university connect student-led initiatives to long-term strategies in delivering new technology solutions on campus.”

Bob Rapp, Hybrid Cloud Gurus’ principal, said, “The students will talk about how they developed the skills and then they will actually demonstrate asking some questions and getting Alexa’s answers about Central Washington University. It will be about how Central is making progress on how we voice-enable the campus while ensuring the privacy of the students.”

As far as what’s next, Bohman said, “Moving forward, the university will explore opportunities to implement this new Alexa skill in everyday life here on campus. Today’s students expect access to technologies that align with how they interact and engage with the world around them and this is another step in that direction.“

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Public Affairs, 509-963-1487, Robert.Lowery@cwu.edu

Photo: Rapp addressing CWU students working on the Alexa project.

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