Revolutionizing AI Assistance at the University of California, San Diego


Revolutionizing A.I. Assistance at the University of California, San Diego

In just six months, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has scaled its in-house A.I. platform from a test pool of 400 users to a full deployment reaching 37,000 faculty, staff, and student staff. This rapid expansion marks a significant milestone in the adoption of A.I. assistants within academic institutions. Let's delve into the journey, the notable benefits, and the surprises encountered along the way.

The Journey to Full Deployment

The journey began with UCSD's A.I. platform being tested by a small pool of 400 users, aimed at gauging its effectiveness and identifying areas for improvement. The initial success and feedback encouraged UCSD to expand the user base. The complete rollout to 37,000 users coincided with a major upgrade to the platform's capabilities. The integration of Llama 3, a state-of-the-art large language model (LLM), enhanced its reasoning abilities, code generation, and instruction-following capabilities.

The Suite of A.I. Assistants

UCSD's A.I. platform currently offers a number of specialized A.I. assistants, each designed for specific tasks, with more in development to expand its capabilities. According to UCSD Chief Information Officer Vince Kellen:

  • User Interaction: One of the first things many users do is ask the A.I. assistant about themselves (a practice he jokingly referred to as 'glory searching').
  • Common Uses: Other frequent applications include summarizing or rewriting text, brainstorming ideas, and crafting job descriptions.

One particularly notable assistant is the Job Description Writer. This A.I. allows staff to input some basic data and receive an AI-created job description that has been reviewed to remove unintended bias or wording that might discourage certain groups from applying. The Job Description Writer has been particularly well-received, significantly reducing the time managers spend on this task. Additionally, human resources has reported higher quality applicants since its launch.

Benefits of the A.I. Platform

Cost Savings

According to Vince Kellen, the cost savings achieved by using UCSD's A.I. platform compared to external A.I. systems have been substantial. Developing and maintaining an in-house A.I. suite has proven to be a financially prudent decision, reducing dependency on costly third-party solutions.

Improved Efficiency

The A.I. platform has streamlined various administrative and academic processes. Faculty and staff have reported increased efficiency in handling routine tasks, allowing them to focus on more critical responsibilities.

Enhanced Support

For student staff, the A.I. platform has become an invaluable tool for managing academic workloads and administrative duties. Its advanced instruction-following capabilities have provided personalized support, contributing to a better overall experience.

Better Decision-Making

The upgraded reasoning abilities of Llama 3 have facilitated better decision-making across various departments. Whether it's generating reports, analyzing data, or providing academic recommendations, the A.I. platform has become a reliable assistant.

Surprises and Learnings

User Adoption and Feedback

The rapid adoption rate was unexpected. The willingness of faculty, staff, and student staff to embrace A.I. assistance highlighted a growing comfort with technology as an integral part of their daily routines.

Capabilities of Llama 3

The capabilities of Llama 3 exceeded expectations. Its ability to generate code and follow complex instructions flawlessly surprised many users and significantly enhanced the overall utility of the A.I. platform.

Challenges in Personalization

One challenge faced during the deployment was the need for personalization. Ensuring that the A.I. platform could cater to the unique needs of different users required ongoing adjustments and customization.

A Promising Future

The success of UCSD's A.I. platform sets a precedent for other academic institutions considering the integration of A.I. assistants. The significant cost savings, improved efficiency, and enhanced support underscore the potential of in-house A.I. systems in transforming educational environments. As technology continues to evolve, the A.I. platform's journey at UCSD stands as a testament to the transformative power of A.I. in academia.


The full deployment of UCSD's A.I. platform marks a significant achievement in the field of AI-assisted education. The integration of advanced LLMs like Llama 3 has provided substantial benefits, from cost savings to improved efficiency and support. The surprises encountered along the way have offered valuable learnings, paving the way for future innovations. The platform exemplifies how A.I. can be harnessed to create a smarter, more efficient, and supportive educational ecosystem.

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