Big Blue supercomputer Watson and eager computer science students are about to get a whole lot closer.

In the fall, Carnegie Mellon University’s computer science program is ushering in a course that allows tech-hungry students a chance to get up close and personal with IBM‘s Watson, the infamous computer that smoked some of the smartest contestants on Jeopardy in a legendary 2011 smackdown.

How Watson Wins at Jeopardy, With IBM's Dave Gondek

The course is called the “Intelligent Information Systems featuring IBM’s Watson.” Students will develop mobile apps for Watson’s cognitive technology platform. The famed computer science university, one of the nation’s best, said students will gain unprecedented access in the pursuit of embellishing the existing Watson and making it better.

With mobile apps, of course.

CMU’s Language Technologies Institute professor and researcher Eric Nyberg said the upcoming course is is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

As for IBM, it describes Watson thus:

“Watson is a cognitive technology that processes information more like a human than a computer by understanding natural language and generating hypotheses based on evidence and learning as it goes.”

Ah, yes. Go, Watson, Go!

In addition to Nyberg, LTI professor Alan Black, an expert in mobile speech interfaces, and Norman Sadeh, a professor at the school’s Institute for Software Research and a noted expert in mobile devices, are also involved with the project, CMU said.

Six other schools are also getting the chance to work with Watson, including Ohio State University, New York University, Rensselaer Ploytechnic Institute, Cal Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and University of Texas, Austin, CMU said.

CMU computer science students have worked with Watson before, in 2007. The school collaborated previously with IMB on what was then called the “Open Advancement of Question-Answering Initiative.” That program created system architectures that support platforms like Watson, which can understand human’s questions and respond to them.

The class is in response to the growing demand for students looking to develop expertise in big data and analytics, both coveted IT segments that many tech companies are hiring for.

And now Watson can help.

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