Islanders Participate in International Competition: Invent for the Planet

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi students raced against the clock during the “Invent for the Planet” competition – a 48-hour multidisciplinary contest held Feb. 15-17 in the I-Create Lab at the Mary and Jeff Bell Library. Thanks to modern technology, Islanders worked in tandem with students from 37 other universities in over 22 countries and 16 different time zones to tackle some of the most challenging issues facing the planet today. Islander students were given two important themes: improving quality of life and smart elderly care.

“Invent for the Planet is a prime example of how a culture of innovation can take place in multiple disciplines between departments, cities, states, and countries,” said Sharmeen Ahmed, research and commercialization analyst with the Division of Research and Innovation at A&M-Corpus Christi. “This whole experience gave our students from different majors and backgrounds the opportunity to work together to invent a solution to a global problem.”

The competition started Friday as all participants and judges came together to meet for the first time, brainstorm ideas with mentors, and form two groups – the night didn’t end until about midnight. At 7:30 a.m. Saturday, the groups came together again to begin working on their projects, designing prototypes, and creating presentations. One group, the Islander Inventors, decided to create a navigation belt – called Roamers – for blind individuals that signals walking directions via vibration.

“We chose for the modules to vibrate instead of make a sound because if there is any voice, other people will know the user is wearing the belt,” said Prasanna Annapureddy, an international student from India pursuing a master’s in computer science. “The reason we chose this project is because the blind should not feel blind.” 

When the second team, Elite Innovation, discovered that many elderly people suffer from chronic dehydration, they decided to create a smart water bottle – called Aqua Tracks – with LED lights that flashes in regular intervals. This notifies elderly people to drink water at regular intervals and allows caregivers to keep track of their patient’s hydration levels.  

“When I initially saw the advertisement for event, I was intimidated because I thought it was something that has to do with building software, or that it was just for science and engineering students,” said Jamiu Opoola, who is working towards a master’s in accounting. “But business students are able to see things from a different perspective, which brings something important to the table.”

Again, on night two, the students left after midnight. They returned at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning to finalize their projects before presenting their proposals in front of the judges at 2 p.m.

“The long hours show the true commitment these students had to their projects,” said Ahmed. “It shows their entrepreneurial mindset and innovative spirit.”

Ultimately, the judges choose the “Roamers” as the group to move on to the next stage. The Islander Inventors won a cash prize of $1,000, and Elite Innovation, with Aqua Tracks, won a cash prize of $750 to divide amongst the team. The winning group is now tasked with recording a 10-minute presentation and submitting it to Microsoft Teams Environment. The top five teams from around the world will then be announced on March 8, and each of these teams will be invited to the final competition to be held at Texas A&M University in College Station in April. Global winners will be awarded $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place, $1,000 for third place.

Special thanks to the judges for the A&M-Corpus Christi competition:

  • Morgan Bender, owner of Homestead Senior Living
  • Dr. L.D. Chen, Associate Dean of the College of Science & Engineering
  • Dr. David Gurney, Associate Professor of Media & Communication
  • Dr. Ahmed Mahdy, Vice President for Research and Professor of Computer Science
  • Dr. Sabeen Syed, Pediatric Gastroenterologist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital