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WHU CustomGPT Makerthon: Innovative Minds Shape the Future of AI

Students create innovative AI models for the future—from master’s theses assistants to tools for electoral campaigns

Some 34 MBA students recently gathered at the Düsseldorf campus of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management for one purpose: to create new AI models centered around their own ideas and interests. At the debut edition of the school’s WHU CustomGPT Makerthon, programming skills intersected with the latest happening in AI development, providing participants with the opportunity to test their creative skills and explore the diverse ways AI technology is applied within a corporate context.

The program’s agenda offered WHU students a wide range of opportunities to explore the topic of AI. In addition to workshops, where they could create effective prompts for neural networks, the WHU CustomGPT Makerthon also offered a crash course on generative pre-trained transformers (GPTs) for business applications. GPTs are neural network models that use a transformer architecture, an important advancement in the field of artificial intelligence that allow applications such as ChatGPT to work properly.

During this crash course, participants formed teams, collected ideas, and refined and implemented them as GPTs. The resulting ideas ranged from an assistant that helps students formulate and validate topics for their theses to a customized GPT for communicating with current and future WHU students.

“After custom GPTs were introduced a few months ago, today, we had the opportunity to optimize our own under the guidance of experts and to explore their potential. It is impressive to see what is already possible with GPTs after such a short time,” said Jens Bonger, member of the school’s MBA class of 2024. Naga Jyothi Bonam, a graduate of WHU’s Part-Time MBA Program, was also enthusiastic about the new possibilities she discovered at the Makerthon: “With CustomGPTs, the power of AI can be used quickly and creatively. And anyone who learns how to create CustomGPTs is already at a competitive advantage.”

In the GreenGenie project, the participants presented a solution intended to support companies in meeting ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) and SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) requirements. They also developed a political campaign agent designed to strategically sway more voters.

In addition to the practical side of things, the event also covered the theoretical and featured numerous inspiring speeches from industry experts, including Edip Saliba, Data and AI Sales Leader at Microsoft, who discussed the integration of OpenAI models in Microsoft products. Ibrahim Halil Kalkan from GELSENWASSER AG spoke about the legal and ethical challenges and considerations when using generative AI. Dr. Wolfgang Runge, Managing Director at Accenture Operations, highlighted current trends in and perspectives on AI technology and gave advice on its application in academic and professional environments. There was even a speaker from Silicon Valley present: Guido Appenzeller from Andreessen Horowitz provided concrete insights into the dynamic advances made in generative AI and discussed investment strategies based on current market trends.

The first WHU CustomGPT Makerthon was initiated by Professor Stefan Spinler, Head of the Kühne Institute for Logistics Management at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, and Hamidreza Hosseini, lecturer at WHU. “The event represents an important step in the promotion of innovative ideas and the associated collaboration at WHU,” said Professor Spinler. Plans for next year’s Makerthon are already underway.

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