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IBM partners with universities on Watson projects

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 6, 2014 at 1:42 pm •  Published: May 6, 2014
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NEW YORK (AP) — Watson is going to college.

Students at seven of the country's top computer science universities will get a chance to try out IBM's famous cognitive computing system as part of new classes set for next fall.

The partnership between Armonk, New York-based IBM and the universities, which was set to be announced Wednesday, will let students use the "Jeopardy!" champion to develop new cognitive computing applications for a variety of industries ranging from health care to finance.

"If they're interested in these kinds of technologies, when they graduate they're going to have a natural proclivity to designing them," says Michael Rhodin, IBM's senior vice president overseeing Watson.

"The logic here is that the next generation of entrepreneurs is in universities today."

The move follows IBM Corp.'s January announcement that it was investing more than $1 billion in Watson, including about $100 million in startup companies working on Watson projects. The investment also includes a shiny new headquarters for the division on the edge of New York City's East Village close to New York University, one of the schools taking part in the project.

The partnership will provide a unique opportunity for the students, who will mostly be seniors and graduate students, because Watson isn't programed like traditional computers.

Instead of relying only on the information that's put into it, Watson learns by "reading" vast amounts of information and combining it with the results of previous work to find answers to problems, making it ideal for data-heavy industries.

As part of the Watson classes, students will be given access to a Watson system that IBM will provide through a cloud. They'll then break into teams and use those resources to build and test their own applications, which will be geared toward a particular industry.

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