News Sep 26, 2023

Open AI Hackathons and 4 Other Ways Jacobs is Accelerating Generative AI

Artificial intelligence is changing how we do business. Here’s a look at how we’re embracing the changing digital landscape.

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From self-driving vehicles and automated investments to manufacturing robots and healthcare data management, there’s no technology more impactful in recent years than artificial intelligence (AI). Its captured the headlines, imaginations and wallets of people across business, technology and the arts – and shows no sign of slowing down.

By 2027, the AI market size is expected to hit a staggering $407 billion and 64% of businesses expect the technology to improve productivity, according to Forbes advisors.

At Jacobs, our clients are navigating the digital transformation, including AI, and growing cyber risks. Positioned at the forefront of this growth, we’ve placed data solutions at the heart of our business and in our Boldly Moving Forward strategy, adding digital capabilities, products and tools to help our clients tackle the changing digital landscape.

“We’re focused on exploring innovative data solutions that will accelerate our business growth potential across all markets,” explains Jacobs Chief Information Officer Ron Beckman.

One way we’re exploring this growth is through a recent Open AI Hackathon program where participants from across our business created proof of concepts that tapped into the latest trends in generative AI. Participants competed to develop out-of-the-box solutions harnessing these trends to improve how we do business and apply AI responsibly. Teams even got to present their solutions to a panel of judges including Ron and Jacobs Chief Technology Officer Doug Wolfe.

“Advanced tools such as AI can accelerate the delivery of critical infrastructure. The hackathon prototypes demonstrated how we can use the power of AI to increase our productivity and manage systems to save energy, water and other resources,” says Doug. “These thoughtful, creative solutions can be implemented now and we’re taking steps to move forward with integrating these use cases into our daily work.“

Todd Kremmin, one of the hackathon participants and a data analytics and visualization geologist at Jacobs, shares, “I personally felt challenged in a way I had not been before this experience. Often we consider learning new things through training, education or upskilling on the side. This hackathon though was a new form of learning that had me fully engaged, at work, at home and even dreaming. I couldn’t stop talking or thinking about it.”

“My team chose to use a generative AI-powered chatbot to ensure easy retrieval of information and facilitate efficient project planning and decision-making,” explains another hackathon participant, Kapil Murdia, a Jacobs knowledge management specialist. “The hackathon provided a solid foundation into concepts of cloud computing, various artificial intelligence tools and cutting-edge technologies like generative AI.”

The hackathon is just one example of how we’re accelerating AI. Here are four others:

  1. Prioritizing governance. We established a generative AI working group and AI Council, including business and legal leaders, early on to provide framework and governance for our employees around Generative AI best practices.
  2. Upping our skills. We’re encouraging our teammates to grow their skills through short, self-guided learning sprints to build AI skills. To gamify the learning, we challenged employees to finish as many modules as they could during a set timeframe, with the teammate who completed the most challenges winning.
  3. Collaborating to enhance our knowledge. We’ve created several communities of practice and collaborative groups for generative AI learning and cross collaboration in our business.
  4. Sharing our insights. Our brilliant team of dreamers, thinkers and doers regularly share their insights at industry events, conferences and in media. For example, Jacobs Associate General Counsel Darrell Collett joined digital experience agency, Mindgrub Technologies’ Founder and CEO Todd Marks for a deep dive discussion on the impact of generative AI – with a focus on the legal, creative and user experience impacts of the technology – on one of the recent episodes of our podcast series. Tune in to their discussion here.

“AI solutions have the potential to transform how we do business,” says Ron. “We’ll continue to partner with all business functions to expand our AI footprint across Jacobs and solidify our vision to craft a brighter, more responsible AI-powered future.”

Read more about how we’re accelerating data solutions at