George Mason University’s School of Business announced today that software company UiPath is donating $16.4 million in software licenses to help business students learn about robotic technology in classroom assignments and activities.
The in-kind donation includes 8,200 three-year user licenses for robotic process automation (RPA) software. With the donation from UiPath, undergraduate and graduate School of Business students will have a unique ability to gain a deep understanding of how to create and use RPA robots.
“This game-changing contribution of RPA software and support from UiPath will be a valuable complement to the school’s focus on the future of work, and will help our students gain insight into new models for business,” said Maury Peiperl, dean of the School of Business. “The opportunity for students and faculty to work with innovators like UiPath is of immense benefit to all involved.”
RPA allows users to configure computer software to emulate the actions of humans interacting with digital systems. RPA robots can capture data and manipulate applications, triggering responses and communicating with other systems to perform a variety of repetitive tasks.
Candace Deans, an associate professor in the School of Business, said that the donation will allow students to delve more fully into the potential uses for RPA in the business world.
“We are at the beginning of the artificial intelligence revolution, and it will transform the business world,” said Deans. “More and more things that humans did will be done by bots or machines, and we want our students aware of the technology trends.”
Deans has already been exposing students in her Introduction to Business Information Systems course to RPA technology. Students in the class use the UIPath software to create bots that could describe the weather in particular locations and then give advice on what clothing to wear.
Rajdeep Manaise, a graduate student in the School of Business pursing his Master of Science in Technology Management, helped teach students in Deans’ class to program their weather bots.
“The feedback we got at the end of the semester was that students thought it was an interesting and helpful exercise,” said Manaise.
Karen Kitching, an associate professor of accounting in the School of Business, says she assigns projects involving using RPA software to data wrangle, the process of transforming raw data into a format used for decision-making. Kitching says the exercise helps her Advanced Accounting Analytics students understand how the technology can improve productivity.
UiPath is the fastest-growing technology company in North America, according to Deloitte’s 2019 Technology Fast 500.
“[Artificial intelligence] and automation will create more than 100 million new jobs in the near future,” said Tom Clancy, senior vice president of UiPath Learning. “We at UiPath see it as our responsibility to help close this emerging skills gap by empowering tomorrow’s workforce to understand how to best use this technology to their personal, and their future employers’, advantage.”
Clancy said he was thrilled to partner with Mason’s School of Business and its more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students “to showcase what’s possible with RPA and to give them the tools they need to propel better ways of working.”
The software will allow students in all the business classes to learn more about RPA.
February 19, 2020 / Anna Stolley Persky