Queen’s University students help cutting edge AI project

Artificial intelligence has taken the world by storm over the course of the last few years. Some people love it, some people fear it, but there’s no question that it’s here to stay, and in some cases, help in unexpected ways.

One of those ways is being piloted in Kingston, in an effort to make the planning and proposal stage of road-building smoother.

Software company RedBit Development, road safety construction group RSG International, and a Queen’s University student organization called QMIND, are working together on the project.

“We’ve decided to do this partnership with all three of us to see if we can do something new in the construction industry,” says Mark Arteaga, president and founder of RedBit Development.

They’re working on an AI-based assistant to help engineers, architects and contractors prepare proposals for road infrastructure and similar projects.

“The AI kind of has all of the information and all the data,” says Arteaga. “It knows which bid or proposal it needs to do or what it’s working on, and then the person putting together the proposal will ask it questions.”

For the students, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get hands-on experience with real world companies, using the tech of the future.

“Until very recently, there was a very high barrier of entry to really get your hands on applied AI, especially when it’s going to be implemented in the real world,” says Marcelo Chaman Mallqui, managing director of operations for QMIND. “Being able to be at QMIND provides these opportunities for all of the members.”

They say this AI application isn’t going to replace real people.

“We see this as an augmentation of our workforce,” says Elliot Steele vice president of technology for RSG International. “In fact, we see that we’re going to have to add people to manage and enhance these systems.”

The partnership is still in the early stages, what they’re calling the “discovery” stage, which involves heavy research and data collection to help make the AI assistant as efficient and correct as possible.

As for the future of this project, Chaman Mallqui says he’s excited to see this project through and pass down the knowledge to current and future QMIND members.

“It’s kind of learning and living through each other,” he says. “You’re able to experience multiple lifetimes before you finish your own.”

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