Skip to content

Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs Holds CUNY-IBM Watson Competition Challenge

Baruch College Students Tackle Homelessness, Improving Arts & Culture, and NYC Government with IBM Watson Cognitive Technology

CUNY_IBM Watson Winners 2017

1st row: Christopher Menedes, Akash Jairam, Philip Gringer, and Ben Hollander (First Prize Winners - Team “Watson DCS”, Brooklyn College);  2nd row:  Uman Shazad, Kevin Sanchez, Julissa Lorenzo, Tom Ward (Third Prize Winners - Team “Hunter Hawks”, Hunter College);  Michael Iannelli, Feng Hu, Arun Adiththan (absent) (Second Prize Winners - Team “SagaCity”, CUNY Graduate Center).


New York, NY – May 25, 2017 – Over 200 students from 15 CUNY colleges, including Baruch College, used critical thinking skills to tackle real world issues and practiced using IBM’s Watson cognitive technology for good.  They were all competing in the CUNY-IBM Watson Competition held at Baruch College on May 12, 2017.

The students participated in a semester-long training and competition that challenged them to develop innovative applications employing IBM Watson cognitive computing technology to improve services provided by higher education or New York City Government.  45 students from seven CUNY colleges, and organized into 11 teams, competed in the final round of the competition.

The annual competition was a collaborative partnership including Baruch College’s Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, CUNY, IBM and the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.  Leading the partnership were Pamela Haas, manager in IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and Professor Stan Altman, Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. 

 Tackling Real Problems With IBM Watson Technology

“The CUNY-IBM Watson Case Competition challenges students to tackle contemporary problems, such as providing shelter and services to homeless veterans or providing CUNY faculty interested in integrating art into their courses access to the permanent collections of cultural institutions in the city,” said Professor Altman. “In the process of developing solutions to these problems, students learn about a substantive area such as homelessness, arts and culture in New York City or about how New York City Government operates while at the same time learning team building, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills – the ‘soft skills’ that are so difficult to teach in a classroom.

“The competition,” Professor Altman added, “is an example of how experiential learning opportunities can be used to further our students’ education as well as their personal and professional growth.”

Baruch Provost Challenges Students To Use Critical Thinking To Solve Real Work Issues

Baruch College Provost, David Christy, PhD, welcomed the student finalists to Baruch College and urged them to continue bringing their creative thinking to solve the complex problems that we face in this digital age where such issues as privacy are continuously being redefined.

IBM VP of Corp Citizenship Challenges Students To Think About The Problems They Want To Solve Jennifer Crozier, vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and president of the IBM International Foundation, advised the students about their future in different terms: “Don’t think about the job you want to have, but the problems you want to solve.”

CTO of NYC Challenges Students To Find Their Purpose

Miguel Gamiño, New York City chief technology officer, talked about the importance of finding “your purpose” and expressed high hopes for the future City because of the diversity, talent and creativity of the CUNY students in the final round.

IBM’s Stan Litow Honored With Special Recognition

It was announced that Stan Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and formerly president of the IBM International Foundation, would have a paver installed at Baruch College’s Clivner=Field Plaza, on 25thtStreet between Lexington and Third Avenues, in recognition of the critical role he has played in creating the CUNY-IBM Watson Competition. The paver will read “STANLEY S LITOW, A TRUE VISIONARY & INNOVATOR.”


Each of the eleven teams had five minutes to pitch their project and proposed solution.  After a lengthy deliberation the panel of judges selected the three winning teams listed below. The link to the video they prepared for the competition is included. 

First Place: $5,000:  Philip Gringer, Ben Hollander, Akash Jairam, Christopher Menedes; Brooklyn College – Project for NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Second Place $3,000: Michael Iannelli, Feng Hu, Arun Adiththan, The CUNY Graduate Center – Existing NYC 311 System

Third Place $2,000: Thomas Ward, Julissa Lorenzo, Uman Shahzad, Kevin Sanchez, Hunter College – Treating Youth-Related Attention Deficient Disorder

The final round of the CUNY-IBM Watson Competition can be watched by clicking the Final Round



Bookmark and Share