Summer study abroad program in Vienna focuses on semantic AI

Students stand in front of a monument in Prague.
From left to right: Vighnesh Prakash Miscal, Jessela Budiman, Amanda Robb, Kailey Terracciano, Ani Harriott, Caitlin Stewart, Kiran Pradhan and Grant Yang.

The iSchool piloted a new study abroad program in Vienna, Austria, this summer, taking 16 students to explore the intricacies of using semantic and business artificial intelligence to address user information needs.

The monthlong course examined how companies use data science and information science to collect and shape data for customers, employees, government agencies and companies. Using their knowledge from coursework, as well as real-world data, students worked on projects to develop insights and practical solutions for companies such as Microsoft, Starbucks and Expedia.

Informatics student Kiran Pradhan, a junior, focused on proof-of-concept work for Starbucks: “My team worked to enhance customer ability to navigate and discover items on the Starbucks menu based on personal preferences, from flavor profiles to dietary restrictions.”

Informatics student Tanner Kooistra, who expects to graduate in 2022, worked on streamlining user features for Microsoft Doc and Learn content. She found her experience in Vienna to be incredibly enriching, especially given the short length of the program.

“Not only did I gain experience working with a client, understanding and delivering to their needs and developing alongside industry experts, I also learned about a whole new technology application that I now would consider myself quite competent in, Kooistra said.” 

Program directors Mike Doane and Richard Sturman, both lecturers at the iSchool, were pleased with the quality of students’ projects and considered the program as a whole to be a major success.

“This was a great chance for students to work in an immersive, hands-on environment of real-world projects related to technology and information science,” Doane said.

“The work the students produced was fantastic,” Sturman added. “It was evident during the final presentations that the teams we worked with got real value from the students’ work and valued their insight and contributions. I feel very lucky to have been a part of this.”


More photos from the Vienna Semantic AI Study Abroad: 

Vienna Semantic AI Study Abroad 2019