DSU Students create Digital Personality during competition

hard Sanchez is trying to help students at Dakota State University.

“Richard” is a digital personality, or DP, designed by a Dakota State team of students, with support and resources from Sterling Computers. Digital personalities are tech creations powered by artificial intelligence that mimic human communication to offer customer support services such as sales assistants or trainers. This is the first step in a multi-phase process to create a DP that could answer questions about university life, such as “How do I get to the library?” “Can I still get financial aid?” “What if I want to change my major?”

Sterling Computers and Dakota State instituted a competition to create this DP, giving groups of students and a faculty mentor the chance to work through the process of creating this avatar-like character. Fifty-eight students signed up for this competition, and were divided into 15 teams of four, working about an hour a week throughout the majority of the spring semester. 

The winning team was announced on May 1, and include Anthony Meyer, a freshman computer game design major from Presho, S.D.; Autumn Meyer, a senior Production Animation major from Harrisburg, S.D.; Garret Leiseth, a junior Business Administration major from Crooks, S.D.; and team lead Sam Martin, a sophomore Computer Science/Software Engineering major from Rapid City, S.D. Each won a gaming computer from Sterling.

Provost Rebecca Hoey was impressed by how the students could incorporate their varied skill sets to create a well-functioning and engaging DP. She said It provided a good conversational flow that was informal but not too casual, with a soothing voice and visual appeal, she said. She also complimented the faculty mentors, particularly Dr. Justin Schroeder, faculty advisor for the winning team.

Schroeder is a first-year math professor in DSU’s Arts & Sciences department, with a focus on technology and game design orientation. 

The University and Sterling will be working on additional steps to fine tune the operational abilities of this DP before implementing at DSU.