Information Communication Technologies & Digital Media Sector Team

The success of Cuesta College students in the national Amazon Web Services Alexa Skills Hackathon is a stellar example of how educational support and innovative teaching can lead to significant achievements. Supported by ICT-DM Deputy Sector Navigator Paula Hodge, the students from Cuesta College showcased their talent by tying for fifth place among 1,084 participants. This was achieved through their creation of Quest Assist, a chatbot designed to help students find information about campus services.

Quest Assist was developed as part of an Introductory Cloud Computing course taught by Robert Sfarzo. Remarkably, the students, including those without prior programming experience, were able to learn and apply the necessary skills to develop a functional chatbot within just six weeks. Their project not only succeeded in the competition but also made it to the Alexa store, showcasing the practical application of their learning. The Quest Assist project serves as a model for implementing a support AI assistant in educational settings, illustrating how AI can enhance student access to information and resources.

This initiative highlights the potential of integrating real-world technology projects into educational curriculums. By aligning with industry standards and focusing on applicable skills, educators can significantly enhance student engagement and career readiness. The support from educators like Paula Hodge and innovative approaches by instructors like Robert Sfarzo are crucial in bridging the gap between academic learning and industry demands.

The future plans, including the establishment of a student entrepreneurship club and exploring opportunities to monetize Alexa skills, further emphasize the proactive approach towards student development in the field of technology and entrepreneurship. This not only prepares students for future technological advancements but also equips them with the skills and confidence to navigate the rapidly evolving tech landscape.

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