Top Penn State student teams reach final phase of Nittany AI Challenge

Nittany AI Challange is one of nine teams competing in the final round of the Nittany AI Challenge. Team members Omer Kandemir, Omar Rady, Stephen Leshko and Yajat Dewan are working on a project that will leverage AI to help students during the internship application process. 

Credit: Nittany AI Challenge

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nine Penn State student teams are gaining hands-on experience as they work to use artificial intelligence (AI) for good to solve real-world problems in the areas of health, environment, education and humanitarianism in the 2023 Nittany AI Challenge.

After advancing to the third phase of the eight-month-long competition, the teams are developing a minimal viable product (MVP) that must be submitted by Aug. 8. The teams will pitch their idea during the AI For Good Expo on Sept. 7 where they will compete for a pool of $25,000 to advance the project further.

Each of the following teams received $1,500 along with support from the Nittany AI Alliance and strategic partners to build their MVP:

  • Alert Heart: a wireless device capable of detecting heart attacks and alerting the caretakers. 
  • Achievify: a career trajectory and exploration tool for underserved communities created by leveraging machine learning and natural language processing, in tandem with diverse backgrounds, expertise, advocacy and real community voices.
  • a solution to help students find and secure entry-level positions, from building a perfect, tailored resume to cover letters.
  • Oris: empowering medical volunteers with AI technology for improved oral disease detection and classification in low-income communities.
  • Storio: an AI-powered conversational application designed for children and families.
  • Therapeutrack: an application that helps therapists and mental health patientsin keep track of their mental health journey.
  • TransferMaster: a cutting-edge AI solution used to accelerate and reduce the cost of the transfer credit process at large universities like Penn State.
  • Trinity: a portable, modular AI-based smart device that measures, predicts, and is the basis of the framework for managing the potability of water sources.
  • TutorAI: an accessible and affordable tutor for all students, whenever a student needs one.

Brad Zdenek, innovation strategist for the Nittany AI Alliance and program manager of the Nittany AI Challenge, said he is impressed with the quality and innovation represented in this year’s teams.

“They exemplify the cutting-edge innovative and transformative potential that AI brings to the challenges we face in our world and the power of Penn State students to lead those efforts,” Zdenek said.

Participating in the competition has already proven to be beneficial for Stephen Leshko, a College of Engineering student majoring in computer science and lead developer for

“I’ve grown so much more comfortable in web development,” Leshko said. “I’ve learned a plethora of new technologies and small-business concepts that I likely wouldn’t have learned had I not been working on It’s quite satisfying to see how much stronger both my technical and leadership skills have gotten as I continue to work on the project, while also seeing the project as a whole grow from an idea to a living website.”

Leshko is working on with fellow computer science majors Yajat Dewan, Omer Kandemir and Omar Rady to help other students during the internship application process.

“We observed that many of our peers possessed excellent software engineering skills but were encountering difficulties in securing their desired internships. Despite their expertise, they were investing excessive time and effort into the process and experiencing frequent rejections,” Leshko said. “ is a tool to improve one’s chances of getting internships while minimizing the amount of time spent trying to do so.”

Trinity team members Gayatri Bangar, Ranojoy Deb and Jason Durrance, all graduate students studying data analytics at Penn State Great Valley, have a goal of using AI to help manage one of the most important resources on Earth.

“Water quality is a vital concern worldwide, and our aim is to provide a solution that enables efficient and accurate monitoring. We were inspired by the potential of AI and the Internet of Things to make a significant impact in this area,” Bangar said.

She said the program provided the team members with a supportive environment that has allowed them to grow their technical and soft skills, such as team collaboration, project management and problem-solving.

“Participating in the Nittany AI Challenge has been an incredibly enriching experience,” Bangar said. “The most rewarding aspect has been witnessing our concept transform into a tangible, functional system that has the potential to make a real difference in the water management industry.”

The Nittany AI Alliance is a program of Penn State Outreach.