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"Alexa, Ask Ruff…"

YC students now have a new way to stay connected.

Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated domestic know-it-all, now answers questions about Yavapai College.

Simply find one of these sleek cylinders on the Prescott campus, say: "Alexa, ask Ruff…" and ask – about courses, building locations or upcoming events. Alexa will ask Ruff, the YC mascot, who then imparts his wisdom.

That's how it appears to work. The nuts and bolts of Alexa belong to Alex Daniels, the student putting Amazon Echo technology in the service of YC. "It's kind of fun to be one of the first," he says. A former Chino Valley High School valedictorian and YC Student Ambassador, Daniels studied the interactive technology's immersion at St. Louis (IL) University, and became convinced he could make it work for YC. It required a lot of question-and-answer coding. "I spent a bit of time learning a new trade," he says.

With the help of advisor Janice Soutee, the student ambassadors began developing questions and answers for the Alexa program last March. Daniels worked with facilities and the College's IT Department to address security concerns, and with CTEC's 3D printing students to create a physical shell for Alexa.

Nine Alexae will be dispatched across the Prescott campus this month. If the limited rollout is successful, the units will then extend to the Verde and CTEC this spring. In the meantime, Daniels will continue his classwork and volunteer work, as he eyes graduation and a possible career as a tech entrepreneur.