Last week, Salesforce hosted its first National Conversation Design Chatbot Competition with 27 teams from universities across the country. Students had three days to create a chatbot to tackle an issue that could be immediately used by their institution. The UW Foster team of Emma Weiss, Song-Nhi Vo, Jollin Liu and Tina Tseng won the competition as one of the two first-place teams.
They created the Husky Helper, which is designed to assist students and parents with the back-to-campus transition while emphasizing accessibility and inclusion. For example, it provides useful information about BIPOC mental health services, financial aid, and CLUE tutoring. The Husky Helper can also perform more complex tasks like sorting dining options by dietary restriction, pricing, cuisine, or location; sorting campus study spots by hours open and functionality; and sorting recreational activities by type. The complexity of design shows the students’ deep understanding of their community’s needs.
Learn more about the Husky Helper chatbot.
Emma, Song-Nhi, Jollin and Tina’s accomplishment also demonstrates their ability to problem-solve and adapt in a new environment full of unfamiliar concepts. Without any prior Salesforce experience, they began coding, programming, and attending Salesforce experts’ office hours until they were able to tackle the basics of chatbot development. After hours of designing, troubleshooting, and testing, they built the Husky Helper with 42 intents and 1,326 utterances! The Salesforce team was incredibly impressed with their work – it truly is quite an achievement.
I asked the team how they grew from this experience. Below are their responses.
In business courses we’re often taught to risk-mitigate and be prepared, so signing up for a national Salesforce competition with no Salesforce or coding experience was definitely a leap of faith. At no point whatsoever did we think we would win against MBAs and CSE grads – we were all just there for the experience and to learn – but having an open mind, being curious, and asking a lot of questions really helped me absorb what our mentors were teaching us. After this incredible experience, I feel more confident in trying out new skills, and especially to not let hesitation or insecurity turn me away from learning opportunities.
– Emma Weiss
The DEI factors were a very big eye opener for me. Going forward whether it be school or professional work, there needs to be a shift toward inclusivity and accessibility especially when it comes to technology and information. There are many things regarding technology that when it comes to interactions between each other (with humans) that may put others at a disadvantage simply due to a difference in vernacular and accents.
– Song-Nhi Vo
This experience definitely helped me gain some salesforce/chatbot design experience and insightful perspective on how to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into the workplace, as well as people’s daily lives, by using accessible technology. To me, it is fascinating to see how the combinations of different industries influence society, giving me the opportunity to change the world for the better. In this case, it’s finance with education, communications, media, and technology; moving forward, I aspire to be a business professional who makes a difference by leveraging expertise.
– Jollin Liu
This competition was like no other case competition I participated in before as it has both the business component as well as the design and technology aspect. It gave me a chance to explore AI and offered a hands-on experience to learn how technology can help solve a real business case. As a student, it was a very rewarding experience to work in a team, apply business mindsets and technology skills outside of classroom settings, and come up with a solution that improves the campus community.
– Tina Tseng