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NSU Launches First-of-its-kind Artificial Intelligence Bot to Help Students, Faculty and Staff
- Amazon may have Alexa, but Nova Southeastern University (NSU) has Julie!
Published Monday, December 17, 2018

Created by NSU's Office of Innovation and Technology, Julie is an AI chatbot that will optimize the university experience

Created by NSU’s Office of Innovation and Technology, Julie is an AI chatbot that will optimize the university experience.

NSU’s Office of Innovation and Technology has developed and debuted “Julie” to its students, faculty and staff. Julie is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that was designed to help the NSU community navigate and optimize their university experience.

“At NSU, we consistently seek out ways to provide an edge for our students and Julie is another element that allows them to have access to innovation,” said Dr. George Hanbury, president of NSU. “Technology is embedded in NSU’s DNA, having pioneered many firsts that today are taken for granted. This latest feature is yet another advancement designed to provide the best possible educational experience for our students.”

Online chatbots are typically a computer program or AI that holds a conversation with a user via text or voice, responding in ways that a human would. Beyond automating simple requests, they are able to provide assistance or access information quickly and efficiently.

Julie is an animated and personalized chat bot that has been programmed with many abilities, such as providing support to NSU users by finding their class schedule, searching for dining options on campus and entering technology support tickets, just to name a few. Students are able to ask the chatbot questions such as: “Who is my advisor?,” “What is my account balance?” or “How do I connect to WiFi?”

The beauty of Julie is that it is an integrated bot that has the ability to connect with several systems throughout NSU to provide the correct answers. Using deep machine learning together with sentiment analysis and natural language processing, the AI is able to educate itself based on user interactions, profile information and outcomes from assessments. In other words, it will learn each user’s preferences, likes and tendencies – all to better assist in their NSU experience.

The chatbot leverages the latest frameworks and cognitive services from Microsoft, specifically its Azure Services, Machine Language and Bot Services. Using this technology, NSU’s OITT developed a hybrid process to create and implement a training workflow that will help to consistently build new capabilities into Julie.

NSU plans to add several other chatbots focused on recruitment and enrollment, health and clinic services, research, alumni and into the residential halls in the near future. The department’s vision for the bots is to evolve into personal AI assistants who can provide information to users who ask questions in a natural way and have the ability to provide accurate answers.

“Our goal in creating the chatbot is to provide a richer and more personalized experience to students, faculty, staff, researchers and eventually patients throughout their time here with us at NSU,” stated Christopher Harrison, NSU’s chief technology officer. “The AI bot acts as a 24/7 support, allowing users to find answers to information they are searching for when staff may not be available.”

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About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU is ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Top 200 National Research Universities and is a dynamic, private research university providing high-quality educational and research programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. Established in 1964, NSU now includes 16 colleges, the 215,000-square-foot Center for Collaborative Research, a private JK-12 grade school, the Mailman Segal Center for Human Development with specialists in Autism, the world-class NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, and the Alvin Sherman Library, Research and Information Technology Center, which is Florida’s largest public library. NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. For more information, please visit www.nova.edu.

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