Access to clean and potable water for everyone comes ever closer to reality here in the country as a trio of IT students from the University of San Carlos Cebu bag third place at the Microsoft Imagine Cup Regional Finals in Sydney, Australia.
Team AidUSC, comprised of senior IT students Danielle Ann Piamonte, Erl Joshua Arcenal, and Jeremiah Valero, competed against 11 other teams from Asia Pacific with their mobile app Aqua Check. The app takes a photo of a water sample through a microscope and analyzes it for contamination and can also map the contamination location. The app itself is powered by Microsoft’s Azure Custom Vision.
The team was inspired after coming across an article about a massive diarrhea outbreak caused by water contamination in the biggest prison facility in the Philippines that affected 1,200 inmates and resulted in the death of two.
“We used to focus on solving specific niche-type problems in our past competitions, but this time, we wanted to create a bigger impact not just in the Philippines but on a global scale,” said Arcenal. “With the increasing water contamination cases in the country, we aim to continue to improve Aqua Check and hopefully deploy our application in local government units across the Philippines.”
A huge part of the country’s population are prone to water contamination risks, with 9 million relying on unimproved, unsafe, and unsustainable water sources. Back in 2013, the DENR shared that a staggering 55 people die every day from diseases caused by lack of proper sewage and sanitation facilities.
The University of San Carlos, through its community extension program, is helping Team AidUSC further improve Aqua Check and the team hopes to have the technology patented soon. The team is also trying to raise funds to acquire a foldable microscope and a PPNL microscope which should help bring faster results and better insights into the technology.
OLYMPICS OF STUDENT TECHNOLOGY COMPETITIONS
The Microsoft Imagine Cup has been annually held since 2003 and is the world’s premier student technology competition. This year’s cup encouraged participants to “Dream it. Build it. Live it.” so that they may create applications that impact how people live, work, and play.
This year, 12 finalist teams from China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand competed in the Asia Finals. These teams were chosen from various round of the competition online or through in-person National Final events organized by Microsoft’s subsidiaries.
The championship was awarded to Team Caeli from India for their smart automated Anti-Pollution and Drug delivery mask made for patients with chronic respiratory conditions. The runner-up was Team RailinNova for their Rail Component Inspection Robot that determines rail defects through multi-sensor monitoring.
Team Caeli will proceed to the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Championship where they have a chance to win USD 100,000, a USD 50,000 Azure grant, and a mentoring session with Microsoft’s very own CEO Satya Nadella.