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SparkCognition Hosts Darwin Competition at the University of Texas at Austin

Leading AI Company Partners with Local University for Automated Model Building Competition with Scholarship Prizes

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SparkCognition, a global artificial intelligence (AI) company, recently hosted a competition at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) where students were tasked to use the company’s automated model building platform, Darwin, to solve a real-world problem. SparkCognition awarded scholarship prizes to the first, second, and third place winners of $10,000$3,000, and $2,000 respectively.

“We’ve developed Darwin with both the experienced and the novice data scientist in mind,” said Sridhar Sudarsan, Chief Technology Officer at SparkCognition. “The competition at the University of Texas was a perfect platform to validate how it can augment even beginner-level data scientist’s projects. We were impressed by the applications the students built to tackle real-world problems with just introductory knowledge of data science and Darwin.”

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Darwin is a machine learning (ML) product that accelerates data science by automating the building and deployment of models, empowering users at all experience levels to quickly develop and implement ML applications faster than traditional data science methods. Sixty teams were formed from the 240 students in three sections of an introduction to ML and data science course, then were allowed to pull public datasets to solve a critical problem using the Darwin platform. Each team presented their project to a panel of SparkCognition executives, who graded on the impactfulness and creativity of the team’s application.

“The Darwin competition not only provided students with generous scholarship prizes, but it also gave each team access to experts in the AI space–an experience that is invaluable to students who are eager to make an impact in the industry,” said Angie Beasley, Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Computer Science department at UT Austin. “The students chose a diverse range of datasets that were of interest and value to them–from sports data, to animal shelter records, to medical diagnoses–and it was great that Darwin could be applied to all of these domains.”

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The first-place winner of the competition built an application around Darwin with the intent to solve the increasing issue of media bias. The application was able to take any website or article and assign it a sensationalism and media bias score to determine what was written with the intention to excite readers versus to objectively inform the reader and share factual accounts. The first runner-up developed an application that was able to take data points from facial scans and images to identify and predict the mood of an individual. This was followed by the third place winners, who used data to determine what drives the first impression in a relationship and predict whether or not people would match on a dating service.

“We had a difficult time selecting winners because each team brought very impressive and creative solutions to the problem they selected,” said Keith Moore, Director of Product Management at SparkCognition. “We are proud of the fact that the next generation of problem solvers was able to use Darwin to build meaningful solutions for everyday challenges, and we’re looking forward to seeing what these students do next.”

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