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CMU Receives Funding from Amazon’s Alexa Fund Fellowship

May 1, 2017

By Lacey Kazior

Alexa, play hits from the ‘90s.  Alexa, turn up the volume.  Alexa, dim the lights. 

Sounds like we shoot a lot of commands at poor Alexa.  Maybe it’s time we ask Alexa what we can do for her.  How can we make her speech recognition even better?  How can we teach her new things?  How can we extend past Alexa and create other technology that has similar and improved capabilities? 

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of working with Alexa, she is Amazon’s voice control system. You say the word, and she fulfills your simple commands such as dimming your lights or playing music tracks. Alexa can respond to voice commands from almost anywhere within earshot, and there’s no activation button to press. Simply say the trigger word, “Alexa”, followed by what you want to happen, and she’ll take it from there. 

Alexa can do certain things great, but she’s still a work-in-progress and always looking to improve.  On March 2nd, 2017, Amazon announced the creation of the Alexa Fund Fellowship with the goal of funding university research related to voice technology.  “The Alexa Fund Fellowship will fund fellows who support the development of undergraduate or graduate school programs in fields like text-to-speech, conversational artificial intelligence, automatic speech recognition, and natural language understanding.” 

Pittsburgh’s very own Carnegie Mellon University is one of the first colleges/universities to receive funding from the Alexa initiative, amongst others such as University of Waterloo, Johns Hopkins University, and University of Southern California. At CMU, Alexa fellow are assisting courses in speech recognition and other related areas. 

With the additional funding and assistance from the Alexa Fund Fellowship, there’s no doubt students and researchers at CMU will continue to bring us technology beyond what our imaginations can create.

Even the smartest people in the world often need coaching or guidance when it comes to developing great ideas and inventions.  The Alexa Fund Fellowship is working with colleges and universities to offer additional support in areas such as speech-recognition and artificial intelligence.  Not only do they provide monetary support, but they also assist in teaching and coursework surrounding these topics. One of the most powerful tools we can have is a great mentor, coach or teacher to help us achieve our goals.  Catalyst Connection offers several web-based trainings that can help further develop your own personal leadership and coaching skills and teach you the impact of effective coaching on your business.  Please click here visit for a full list of Catalyst Connection’s web-based trainings. 

For more information on the Alexa Fund Fellowship, click here. 

About Catalyst Connection

Based in Pittsburgh, Catalyst Connection is an economic development organization dedicated to helping small manufacturers to improve their competitive performance. Catalyst advisors, consultants, and instructors offer training, consulting and administer financial programs that can provide funding for equipment, machinery, or capital improvements. As a nonprofit 501 (c)3 firm, the organization has been supporting Southwestern Pennsylvania manufacturers for more than 25 years. For more information call 1-888-887-7472 or go to www.catalystconnection.org.

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