Readying for an AI Takeover

PROVO, Utah – Apr 02, 2018 – While robots and machines have not yet taken over the world, a team of BYU Marriott undergraduate students are helping Microsoft prepare for combat.

Cool, crisp air that smells of pine and salty seawater welcomed the BYU Marriott team to Seattle where they won first place and $4,000 for the second year in a row at the Milgard Corporate Social Responsibility Case Competition.

“We were all nervous, bent over, and holding each other’s hands,” Rachel Durtschi says. “It was awesome when we found out we won. Knowing we’re representing BYU Marriott and showing that we have a great and successful business school is an incredible feeling.”

This year, the topic was Microsoft and the future of artificial intelligence. With Microsoft advancing the digital economy, AI will take a significant number of people out of their jobs and change the economy, leading to a key question: How can Microsoft prepare the world for this kind of change?

The team determined that job loss was the biggest area of focus. Their solution revolved around how they could use AI to better implement new and improved initiatives to help with the company’s CSR, so they created an adaptive learning platform for low-income individuals and schools.

After their presentation, they were invited to present their pitch to a group Microsoft executives via Skype within the next month. 

“We’ll use the same format, but it’ll be an informal setting,” Thomas Colton says. “We’ll make it interactive throughout which is exciting since that takes off a lot of pressure since we don’t have to worry about hitting the per-slide time limit.”

The BYU Marriott team included Colton, a strategy minor from Bethesda, Maryland; Durtschi, a strategy major from Shelley, Idaho; Jordan Marsh, a strategy minor from Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Harrison Miner, a strategy major from Orem, Utah. BYU Marriott competed against sixteen other schools from around the globe including Australia, India, Singapore, and Thailand.

Although members of the team were hesitant about doing the case competition due to busy schedules, they’re glad they took the opportunity to strengthen their relationships with each other and synthesize the skills they learned at BYU.

“The strategy program teaches you how to communicate in the most effective and strategic way,” Durtschi says. “You learn how innovation is going to change the world and how to help a company prepare, and that’s exactly what we did.”

The BYU Marriott undergraduate team with their faculty adviser, Darin Gates.
Thomas Colton presenting with Rachel Durtschi in the background.
Rachel Durtschi, Harrison Miner, Thomas Colton, and Jordan Marsh took home the first place trophy at the Milgard Case Competition.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Emily Colon