One of the most important aspects of any industry, marketplace, and community is the need to grow and develop. Without creating new generations of creative contributors, no group can maintain cohesiveness and achieve anything of lasting value. To create the future, one must not only attract people to their community, one must also teach them well and inspire them to achieve.
Good schools with dedicated faculties help create new blood, and industry-oriented contests and challenges help motivate and inspire it. In the electronic design engineering community, these actions are all the more important because the electronics industry is actively involved in developing the future infrastructure of society. Industry activity directed at both inspiring people and creating new solutions are to be commended.
One such effort to be lauded is the Keysight IoT Innovation Challenge from Keysight Technologies, which invited graduate and undergraduate engineering student teams to conceptualize low-power sensor networks to tackle issues brought on by today’s rapid urbanization. The contest had two tracks: the Smart Land challenge and the Smart Water challenge.
Students submitted IoT sensor network ideas via online written and video submissions from April 1 – May 15, 2019. The competition attracted over 8,000 registrants and nearly 300 entries from around the world, with each entry scored by a panel of 15 semi-final judges on metrics such as innovation, manufacturability and impact. The general public also played a role in the judging by voting for their favorite design entries. The competition generated six finalist teams (three in the Smart Water category, and three in the Smart Land category), who were flown to New York City to present their IoT innovations to a panel of judges on September 21, 2019.
“We were extremely impressed by the enthusiasm, engineering knowledge, and ability to make difficult technical design trade-offs from each of the teams,” said Jeff Harris and Chris Cain, competition judges and Keysight co-sponsors of the IoT Innovation Challenge. “They each chose diverse IoT problems and wasted no time building their prototypes, collecting data in real environments, and analyzing their results. It was exciting to witness.”
“We are thrilled to have inspired student innovation worldwide and were humbled by their passion to improve the planet,” said Cheryl Ajluni, Director of the Innovation Challenge Program. “The student response we received was overwhelming and we hope we played a small part in inspiring a next-generation of student innovators, cultivating long-term relationships with their universities and enriching the worldwide engineering community.”
After deliberation, the IoT Innovation awards were presented to:
Grand Prize Winner ($50,000 USD in cash to the design team and $50,000 USD of Keysight test equipment to their university): Stanford University in the U.S. students Anand Lalwani, Max Holiday and Valmik Lakhlani for their entry, Immersible Internet-of-Things (IoT) Sensors for Cloud-based Water Quality Monitoring.
Anand Lalwani of the Stanford team commented, "Keysight and this competition helped shape my graduate research work and pushed us extensively in the world of IoT. Keysight has been incredibly supportive of cutting-edge research and promoting innovation across countries."
First Prize in Smart Land Category ($25,000 USD in cash to the design team and $25,000 USD of Keysight test equipment to their university): Massey University in New Zealand students Tyrel Glass, Baden Parr, Darryn Wells and Madhav Kruthiventy for their entry, CAIRNet (Climate Air Information Real-time Network).
First Prize in Smart Water Category ($25,000 USD in cash to the design team and $25,000 USD of Keysight test equipment to their university): Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) in Malaysia students Lim Wen Qing, Yap Sheng Yao, Tan Kai Siang, Au Jin Cheng and Khor Jun Bin for their entry, IoT Detachable Waterway Monitoring Device with LoRa and Self-Sustainability.
Special Prize, The Keysight Diversity in Tech Award ($25,000 USD in cash to the design team and $25,000 USD of Keysight test equipment to their university): Massachusetts Institute of Technology students Nikhil Murthy, Sunny Tran, Gabriella Garcia and Irin Ghosh for their Smart Land entry, berrySmart.
“Our team comes from Vietnam, China, India and Colombia. We are male and female engineering students. We truly represent America's growing gender and ethnic technical diversity, which gave us a lot of perspectives,” said Gabriella Garcia from the MIT berrySmart team. “We truly appreciate Keysight's recognition that different perspectives bring innovative results.”
These winning teams and their solutions are examples of what can be accomplished and show a path toward future development. In addition, the nature of the prizes not only reward and recognize the schools and teams involved, they also provide fresh fodder to generate further research. Contests like the Keysight IoT Innovation Challenge help the electronic design engineering community continue to grow and develop in positive and interesting ways.