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USC students bag bronze at int’l Microsoft tilt

Team AidUSC from the Philippines was awarded third place in the recent Microsoft Imagine Cup Regional Finals for their water contamination detection app

Team AidUSC from the University of San Carlos Cebu (USC) recently bagged a third place finish at the Microsoft Imagine Cup Regional Finals held in Sydney, Australia for its development of Aqua Check, a mobile application that detects water contamination.

Competing against 11 teams from Asia Pacific, the Team AidUSC trio composed of senior college IT students Danielle Ann PiamonteErl Joshua Arcenal, and Jeremiah Valero recognized the importance of potable water as a natural resource and thus developed Aqua Check which detects water contamination by taking a photo of a water sample through a microscope. Powered by Microsoft’s Azure Custom Vision, Aqua Check allows anyone to analyze water samples and even map the contamination location, which, for the Philippines, is a big step towards ensuring that all communities have access to clean and potable water.

Team AidUSC has been joining multiple national innovation and startup competitions since college. The team has aspired to come up with a solution for water contamination after coming across an article about the diarrhea outbreak in the biggest prison facility in the Philippines, which affected over 1,200 inmates and killed two because of water contamination.

“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.”

Water is regarded as one of the most critical natural resources in the world. Unfortunately, according to the World Health Organization, around 2 billion people globally use a drinking water source that is contaminated.

In the Philippines, over 19 million lack access to improved sanitation and nine million rely on unimproved, unsafe, and unsustainable water sources. In 2013, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shared that 55 people die daily from diseases caused by a lack of proper sewerage and sanitation facilities.

With the help of the University of San Carlos’ community extension program, Team AidUSC is further improving Aqua Check and is aiming to have the technology patented in the near future. At the same time, the team is trying to raise funds to obtain a foldable microscope and a PPNL microscope, which can bring about faster results and better insights into the technology.

Olympics of student technology competitions

Held annually since 2003, the Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition, affectionately known by participants as the “Olympics of student technology competitions”. This year’s Imagine Cup encouraged participants to “Dream it. Build it. Live it” in order to create applications that shape how individuals live, work and play and through their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology.

The champion and first runner-up places were awarded to Team Caeli from India and Team RailinNova from China, respectively. Team Caeli took home the first prize with their smart automated Anti-Pollution and Drug delivery mask specifically designed for patients that are suffering from asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions, while Team RailinNova came up with Rail Component Inspection Robot, which determines and identifies rail defects through multi-sensor monitoring.

Team Caeli will continue their journey at the Imagine Cup World Championship, where the winner will win USD 100,000, a USD 50,000 Azure grant, and a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

This year, 12 finalist teams from 10 countries competed in the Asia Finals. The countries included China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. These teams were selected from various rounds of the competition online or through in-person National Final events organized by Microsoft subsidiaries in countries across the globe.

For more information about Imagine Cup, please visit https://www.imaginecup.com/.

 

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