Amazon Alexa now spreading its university fellowship program to 14 more schools nationwide

Amazon is increasing its reach with Amazon Alexa and will now be spreading its university fellowship program to 14 more schools nationwide to help connect talented students to the Alexa software in order to further its programming and development.

Where Does The Amazon Alexa University Fellowship Program Come From?

Amazon Alexa university fellowshipBack in early 2017, Amazon debuted its fellowship program by providing fellowships to students in four specific universities to allow them to work with Amazon Alexa.

At the time, it was announced that Amazon was, “paying for a year-long doctoral fellowship at four universities for an undisclosed sum,” and that the Alexa Fund Fellows would, “help students tackle complex technology problems in class on Alexa, like how to convert text to speech or process conversation,” according to Fortune.

The four initial schools were Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, the University of Southern California, and the University of Waterloo in Canada. With the success the program has seen, Amazon has decided to branch out to an even more diverse group of universities including Dartmouth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and the University of California, Berkley.

Through the program, students work alongside faculty with experience in computer programming while also working with an Alexa scientist on how to operate the specific machinery. Students will learn how the technology works and how to apply voice recognition software to these devices.

Engadget also breaks down the specific programs that these students can be a part of:

The program comprises two different fellowships: Alexa Graduate Fellowship and Alexa Innovation Fellowship.

The former will back post-doctoral and PhD students who are focusing on conversational AI, working on matters like natural language understanding, text-to-speech and automatic speech recognition.

Students are also compensated for their work, earning a “competitive stipend” of undisclosed value, according to Fortune.

Other University Uses

This news continues a popular recent trend of universities finding unique uses for Amazon’s most popular product. For example, CNBC has reported this week that Saint Louis University in Missouri will provide over 2,300 Echo Dot units in dorm rooms across its campuses. The plan is to make sure there is at least one Amazon voice assistant product in “every dorm room on campus.”

Students will be able to ask hundreds of university-related questions to the device, including library hours and class schedules. The idea is to cut down on the time students need to take to find out answers to common questions, a process that can often be daunting when someone is trying to sift through dozens of university web pages attempting to accomplish the same feat.

Saint Louis University is actually the third campus to install Amazon Echo throughout its dorm rooms, after Northeastern University in Boston and Arizona State University. Students are now starting to get used to the technology and are even beginning to expect it in their college experiences.

What’s the Impact?

Getting Amazon Echo into the hands of talented students studying computer science will do wonders for both parties. For the student, it’s a chance to learn about a complex and still-evolving technology and provides an education as to how to work with Amazon’s products, which are still becoming more popular. Amazon is investing in these young minds and teaching some of the brightest that the world has to offer how to use their equipment, which will help Amazon search for new upgrades and features going forward. These students can help the evolution of this still-changing medium.

Likewise, the installation of these units in dorm rooms will make these students more familiar with the product. If they like their experience using it, it’s likely they’ll buy the product going forward too. In a way, it’s kind of like a free trial of the popular gadget. In the same way, it’s mutually beneficial for both Amazon and for the students.

It’s a smart tactic for Amazon to invest in the future of humanity in this way. Many of these students will likely go on to pursue other things. A majority of them will never work for Amazon. However, all the company needs are a handful of these minds to feel inspired enough to lend their talents to the company for their careers. They can go on to become major players in the frontier of voice assistant machinery.

How Does This News Impact Sellers?

Amazon Echo has been a terrific product for everyone and has certainly benefited sellers and vendors alike. The voice-enabled unit has become a staple in homes not only across America but also around the world. It’s tremendous publicity for Amazon and also directs people straight to its marketplace when people are looking to purchase products. That feature has helped line the pockets of sellers for years.

Ultimately, the fact that Amazon is going to these creative lengths to improve its software and to invest in its constant evolution speaks to the fact that Amazon wants to continue to help itself and its sellers through the product. As long as Amazon Echo gets smarter and more intuitive, more people will flock to the device and use it to buy anything that they need throughout their days.

These students may contribute in other ways that are beneficial for third parties, such as the development of third party applications through Alexa. People who know how to work with the technology can help install these functions to make Alexa more flexible than ever.

The effects of Amazon using students to power their device won’t be immediately felt, but it’ll be a fruitful investment that demonstrates that Amazon is a company worth putting your time into.

Anders JorstadAnders is a content creator for Rosenbaum Famularo, PC, the law firm behind Anders will be earning his degree in journalism from Hofstra and has five years of professional journalism experience. He has written for numerous online and print publications including SB Nation and The Hofstra Chronicle.

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