Alexa Ready to Welcome PVAMU Students in Fall 2019

  • white alexa dot on table

Being a freshman on campus means having a ton of questions: Where’s the dining hall? When do classes start? What’s the game schedule?

Luckily for incoming students, this fall, the answers to these questions and more will be readily available in their rooms, thanks to 750 newly installed Alexa Dots.

The smart devices will be powered by the PVAMU “My Panther” Amazon Skill, a voice-activated technology activated by the user asking a question. Each Dot will be equipped with the skill and designed to answer over 150 student-centric questions.

While the initial rollout only includes freshman dorms, there are plans to expand the program to all student housing in the near future.

This project was spearheaded by Assistant Vice President for Information Resource Management Midhat Asghar, who is excited about how this will improve students’ on-campus experience.

“Our goal is to bring all student-relevant information to the skill,” he said. “Students will be able to ask and get information regarding frequently asked questions, and any other information currently available on Alexa platform. Such as, ‘Alexa, set a reminder for laundry at 9 p.m..’; ‘Alexa, what is the weather today?’; ‘Alexa, what is the distance from the earth to the moon,’ etc.”

The abilities seem almost endless, but Asghar was quick to stress that skills requiring personal Amazon accounts or payments would not be supported.

“Due to FERPA compliance and ensuring student privacy, the devices will NOT be attached to any personal account,” he explained.

Additionally, he emphasized that the devices will not be used to monitor user activity, saying, “Student privacy is of utmost importance at PVAMU. We CANNOT listen to student conversations with the Alexa Dot. The skill will only activate once the user invokes it.”

With a convenient bank of questions compiled and security measures firmly in place, these devices are sure to elevate the campus experience with the latest technology.

“Many of the users are already using voice-enabled assistants such as Siri, Alexa, Google

Assistant,” Asghar said. “We want to make sure our students can get the same experience with PVAMU information.”

Although Alexa Dots will be available in the freshmen dorms, anyone can download PVAMU Alexa Skill from Amazon Skill Store.

Starting this fall, students seeking PVAMU specific information will be a simple “ask” away.

Follow along on social media @pvamu to get the latest on campus updates, and be sure to check out the Alexa Skill question bank at pvamu.edu/alexa

Inclement Weather Alert 9-20-2019

Due to inclement weather, the main campus and the northwest Houston center will delay opening until 10 a.m. The safety of our faculty, staff and students is of the utmost concern, please exercise caution as you make your way to campus. The College of Nursing, Medical center campus will remain closed today.