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Just ask "TUC.K.I.!"

Premiere for the new chat robot for student counseling at Chemnitz University of Technology at the 3rd Virtual TUC Days

During the 3rd Virtual TUC Days, TUC.K.I., the new chat robot for student advising, will be used for the first time at Chemnitz University of Technology. It is intended to answer prospective students’ basic questions about studying at Chemnitz University of Technology. However, TUC.K.I. is still learning every day and will continue to be fed with knowledge.

"Hello! I am TUC.K.I. - the digital assistant for student advising at Chemnitz University of Technology." This is how prospective students have been greeted on the landing page since mid-June. After just one click, you can ask the still young university chat robot for advice. Up to now, the central student advisory service and the specialist student advisors were able to provide answers in person, on the phone or by e-mail. Now they get energetic and fast support from the university's chat robot TUC.K.I. - 24 hours a day, even on weekends. "Since the beginning of May, we have provided TUC.K.I with a great deal of knowledge about choosing a college," reports TUCdiscover employee Dr. Maria Worf. "For this purpose, we have created numerous so-called topic clouds to cover all possible questions. We always update this as soon as we notice a new block of topics that we have not yet addressed, but which may be in high demand among prospective students. This is how we want TUC.K.I.'s knowledge base to continue to grow." So TUC.K.I. is still learning every day. If the chat robot cannot answer a question, student advisors are also available during the Virtual TUCtage open house by phone with a call-back option at 0371 531-55555 or by e-mail (studienberatung@tu-chemnitz.de).

Trial by fire for TUC.K.I.

"First and foremost, TUC.K.I. is intended to help prospective students quickly with their questions, because the university website can sometimes be a bit tricky for the uninitiated," says Worf. And indeed, the start-up phase of TUC.K.I.'s trial by fire already shows: The chat robot politely answers the user and gets to the point immediately and efficiently. In response to questions about which course of study best suits the user, TUC.K.I. offers guidance and, within seconds, refers the user to additional websites on many topics related to studying or to specific contact persons. Sometimes it asks for more information just to be on the safe side. The fact is: TUC.K.I. definitely helps save time. However, Worf also confirms some weaknesses: "TUC.K.I. is still very bad at small talk. So it's best to write what you're specifically interested in right away and without further ado in the chat."

Artificial intelligence makes TUC.K.I. smarter and smarter

The letters "K.I." in the robot's name stand for artificial intelligence or Künstliche Intelligenz, which is abbreviated to “K.I.” in German. That's what the university's fledgling project is all about: "The more often TUC.K.I. is used, i.e. the more often it can answer questions, the more confident it becomes and the fewer questions it has to ask," says Worf. Worf and her colleague Monique Reuther see great potential in the chat robot's ability to learn: "If TUC.K.I. continues to develop in this way, we can certainly imagine the University Library or the University Computer Centre as the next areas of application," Reuther explains confidently. Until then, we will wait for the results and the feedback during the TUCtage.

For more information on TUC.K.I, contact Dr. Maria Worf, a member of the TUCdiscover project team, at maria.worf@hrz.tu-chemnitz.de. Feedback on personal experiences with TUC.K.I. can also be sent to her.

(Author: Isabel Möller / Mario Steinebach / Translation: Chelsea Burris)

Matthias Fejes

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