CSUN alumni lead groundbreaking teams at Facebook, Amazon’s Alexa and one of the top artificial intelligence pioneers in the tech industry. This spring, these alumni leaders are bringing their expertise to share with students and amplify the work happening across the university by innovative faculty and staff.
AI Jam, the student competition featuring some of the brightest ideas in artificial intelligence, kicks off March 2 and features alumnus Michael Diamond ’88 (Engineering). Later in the month alumni Michael McNally ’88 (Computer Science) and Steve Rabuchin ’85 (Organizational Systems Management) return to CSUN to present to the campus community about their careers working with worldwide technology leaders Facebook, Google and Amazon.
“Artificial intelligence is a growing technological trend, and CSUN is at the forefront of that movement,” said CSUN’s Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Hilary J. Baker. “These events showcase how CSUN’s curriculum and learning opportunities continue to evolve, especially in AI. Having our alumni return to campus to speak to our students is most gratifying. These are leaders in the industry, and they are showing our students what is possible with a CSUN education.”
On March 2, Diamond, the senior director for Strategic Partnership at NVIDIA, a leader in AI, is the keynote speaker at AI Jam, a competition featuring students solving real-world problems using AI tools. Past events like App Jam – a competition where students developed their own applications for smartphones – and VAR Jam – showcasing virtual and augmented reality creations – have inspired AI Jam. The AI Jam kick-off event is only the beginning, as student teams have a full month to select a problem, learn about AI, create innovative solutions, and present their ideas, culminating in the AI Jam Showcase and Awards Ceremony on April 2.
McNally returns to campus on March 7 . Director of Engineering: News Feed Science and Integrity at Facebook, McNally will speak about how CSUN helped launch his career in AI, social media and technology, which includes 13 years spent at Google where he was director of Software Engineering: Ad Traffic Quality and Publisher Quality before moving to Facebook, taking on the problem of false news.
The Nazarian Distinguished Speakers Series on March 28 features the return of another Matador to CSUN, as Rabuchin will deliver a TED-like talk. Rabuchin, the vice president for Alexa Voice Services and Skills at Amazon will share about leading the engineering and business teams responsible for the launch of the acclaimed Alexa technology. Rabuchin has also been responsible for Amazon Appstore’s global app and game selection, developer outreach, business development, marketing and international business operations.
The spring activity builds on other recent efforts around tech and AI. In December, a group of students helped host CSUN’s first Blockchain Summit, which featured informational sessions centered around cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Beyond that, experts in blockchain discussed with CSUN students the technology that has helped make these cryptocurrencies become such a valuable form of currency.
Chris Kline of BitcoinIRA, who was a guest panelist, expressed admiration at CSUN students’ level of enthusiasm surrounding cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
“It was an honor to be invited to share in the crypto revolution with the CSUN community,” Kline said. “I left the event thrilled with their collective energy toward this global event.”
On March 1, CSUN presents the Bixel Exchange Tech Salon: Diversity in Innovation. Engineering professor Jimmy Gandhi was selected as the keynote speaker for an event exploring how increasing the level of diversity in the industry can influence and improve the technological evolution, fostering a culture that incubates innovation and celebrates diversity.
Faculty also have the opportunity to explore and learn about AI through the new AIx program of “Brown-Bag” AI conversations facilitated by the Faculty Technology Center and Mariano Loza-Coll from CSUN’s Department of Biology. Upcoming AIx discussions include AI and Ethics, AI and Chatbots, AI and Assistive Technology, and culminating with AI and Research.