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Customized Echo Dots for Arizona State’s engineering dorm, Tooker House. (Screenshot Via ASU Now Video)

In a “first-of-its-kind” partnership, Amazon is working with Arizona State University to create a voice technology engineering program, which includes an option for students to get customized Alexa-powered Echo Dots in their dorm rooms.

Amazon donated to ASU 1,600 Echo Dots, which retail at $50 a piece, enough for every freshmen moving into the new high-tech, engineering-focused Tooker House dorm. Amazon also worked with the university to develop a custom ASU skill to get information about the school, academic schedules and the campus as a whole.

As noted by ASU Now, the new program will also include three undergraduate engineering courses with voice development lessons, with a fourth course planned for the spring. Students will be encouraged to build skills for Amazon’s digital brain Alexa, using third party tools that are available to all Alexa developers as well as code examples.

Voice technology has become an important point of emphasis, not just for Amazon, but many of the world’s biggest tech companies. Everyone these days has a voice-powered digital assistant and is looking for ways to get a leg up on the competition.

Amazon has turned over the keys to Alexa to the developer community. In working with universities to supply students with devices, tools and classes, Amazon is creating a wider talent pool of engineers to draw on later, and in the meantime, a larger community of third-party developers building Alexa skills.

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