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Invent for the Planet

Invent for the Planet

February 16-18, 2018

If you had the chance to make a difference in the world, would you clean up our coastlines and oceans? Provide electricity to remote townships in Cambodia? Bring back a species from the edge of extinction?

Now is your chance. On Feb. 16-18, 2018, join your fellow Aggie students, along with students from all over the world, and Invent for the Planet. Invent for the Planet is unlike any Aggies Invent we’ve held before. We are asking our students to tackle the most challenging issues facing our world today in just 48 hours. Texas A&M University has partnered with groups such as VentureWell, Autodesk and Microsoft to make this one of the most exciting Aggies Invent to date. We’re looking for students from all majors to innovate, create and make the world a better place.

The best part is, you won’t be going in alone. Students from 13 other universities from Idaho to Thailand, will be working on the same issues with you. You’ll have the chance to interact and collaborate with students on the other side of the world, and learn what it means to be a global innovator.

Participating Universities

City, State

Institute of Technology of Cambodia
Phnom Penh

Mahidol University

The University of Technology at Yadanabon Cyber City
Cyber City

Texas A&M University at Qatar

Technical University of Cluj-Napoca

Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport

Universidad Politécnica de Yucatán
Merida, Yucatán

Swansea University

State University of Pernambuco
Recife, Pernambuco

Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas

Wichita State University
Wichita, Kansas

Arizona State University
Phoenix, Arizona

Boise State University
Boise, Idaho

New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Official Need Statements

Thematic Area
Needs Statement

Waste Management
Remote monitoring of waste build-up
In many cities, particularly in Asia, there are public trash bins and common waste collection points. However, due to infrequent collection and improper monitoring, these are often overfilled and become sites of waste pile-ups, which cause bad smells and pollution. The waste collection company needs a tool to monitor which public trash bins are overfilled and are causing problems so that they can collect them immediately.

Waste Management
Smart recycling bins
In many areas where recycling bins are located, there is still a lot of waste that ends up in the wrong bins. If the recycling bins can be designed to quickly identify whether the waste about to be thrown in the bins is correct or not and notifies the person, then it may improve the efficiency of the sorting process. These smart bins could also gather data on the recycling amount and recycling participation rate so that these data can be analyzed to develop waste recycling awareness campaigns.

Food Security
Avoiding food waste
Global food waste amounts to 30-50 percent of all food produced. In developing countries, most of the loss occurs during production, transport or the storage stage, however, about 100 kg per person, per year is wasted at the consumption stage (supermarket, restaurant or home). We need tools that will help reduce food waste in any of these stages of the supply chain.

Food Security
Detecting pesticides
While pesticide regulation exists in many developing countries, it is not often systematically enforced. As a result, levels of pesticides in consumable food items can greatly exceed the levels that are considered safe for human consumption. We need a tool that will help address this issue at the wholesale, retail and/or consumer level.

Residential energy consumption
At the end of 2006, the European Union pledged to cut its annual consumption of primary energy by 20 percent by 2020. Many individuals worldwide are interested in reducing their energy consumption but lack the tools or motivation to do so. We need an inexpensive system that will help inform households on their energy consumption so as to incentivize reduction of energy use.

Allow study in the evenings
It is widely acknowledged that education is one of the most effective solutions to poverty. It is also a fact that access to electricity cannot be assumed for many people across the globe. We need a creative, inexpensive environment where multiple (5+) children can study in the evenings when the sun has gone down. What can be designed to allow education to continue at night in areas where electricity is not always readily available?

Digital Technology
Migrant workers
Support the implementation of a digital ID system for migrant workers to be used to officially register, access jobs and secure finance. A majority of ethnic minorities (who are a key migrant worker population) within Asia have never received any ID cards, and without ID, cannot become an officially registered (and protected) migrant worker. Due to multiple varied reasons, many of the potential migrant workers do not have any birth certificate or proof of identity that are traditionally required to receive a legal ID (then able to receive a work permit). Without any ID, migrants are unable to access any type of regulated (transparent) finance and become vulnerable to exploitation (in both source and destination countries). Paper IDs can be confiscated or have been lost, stolen or damaged. A digital ID should enable undocumented persons to be registered electronically so they can receive a verifiable ID in order to receive a legal work permit and begin to build a credit history (for payments and bankability). With a digital ID, migrants cannot have their documents confiscated and held for ransom making them vulnerable for exploitation and labor abuses (and TIP). Working with local NGOs, technology providers and government (or donor) authorities, a registration system would need to be established in source communities of migrant workers. Ideally, this partnership would use technology to create and verify who a worker is, their work history, how they pay recruiters and where they are from. With this Digital ID, both source- and destination-country officials would need to agree to accept this documentation as a way for the migrant workers to receive official work visas and documentation to work legally.

Stop Tuta Absoluta
Tuta Absoluta is an invasive pest that targets mostly tomatoes and has recently been discovered in India and since then moved into Nepal and Bangladesh and will continue to move across Asia, devastating that crop. We need a tool that can help farmers identify, verify and communicate the attacks, and researchers and extensionists to track the spread of this pest.

Equipping rural health workers
Access to medical services, especially in rural areas, is difficult. It becomes even more challenging if you require a specialist physician. Most qualified clinicians are focused in the urban areas and are often not able to cover large areas of rural populations due to distance and cost. For this reason community health workers (CHWs) are becoming increasingly important in rural settings for providing primary healthcare. In addition CHWs speak the same language, share the same ethnicity and are of the same socio- economic status as the patients they serve allowing them to obtain more accurate or pertinent information. The problem is that CHWs are not fully trained and are often ill equipped for appropriate diagnostics and treatment of patients. Further, they do not have a reliable communication method with physicians. What low cost tools and/or training can be provided to CHWs to enable them to be more efficient in health delivery and to better utilize the strong clinical expertise in urban centers?

Rural medication delivery systems
Many important medications require special handling to remain viable. For example, insulin (for diabetics), MMRII vaccine (for measles, mumps and rubella) and Amoxicillin (a common antibiotic) are all required to be kept refrigerated and in a dry environment to be remain effective. Many rural locations are difficult to reach and often do not have continuous or reliable transport networks, in addition, these locations are often found in hot climates. Due to drug costs and short shelf life, often these drugs cannot be kept in stock. Thus, although a rural patient may be correctly diagnosed, often they remain untreated due to lack of viable drugs. What low cost, targeted drug delivery systems (i.e. correct drug to appropriate patient) could be develop to create a viable rural medication delivery system?

Waste Management
Composting for buildings and neighborhoods
Composting is a process that can significantly help reduce the waste that goes to landfills, which is a large contributor to greenhouse gases. Moreover, it creates a nutrient rich soil that can be used on farm fields. While some families and smaller business may compost, most large buildings and neighborhoods do not offer composting due to the fear of attracting vermin and the potential odor. What solution could make composting attractive, convenient and feasible for buildings and neighborhoods? Also, consider what to do with the output of the composting.

Waste Management
Reuse of waste items
Waste continues to grow as we replace technology frequently, like cell phones, or even as we replace items to improve energy efficiency and sustainability (e.g., replacing CFLs with LEDs). Pick a particularly wasteful or toxic item that is commonly replaced and determine a new use for the item to reduce the likelihood for it to go to the landfill.

Measuring water usage in buildings and households
Water waste in buildings and households is hard to measure. What is a way to measure where water is being used and potentially wasted? How much is being reused in water coolers for HVAC system? In cases where measurement is not feasible, what are ways to motivate consumers of water to use less?

Digital Technology
Accumulating floodwater
In many areas that experience flooding due to an unusual natural disaster (hurricane, typhoon, tsunami, etc), tracking where the floodwater is accumulating in real time can be a difficult task. One possible solution would be to design an inexpensive object (think of a rubber duck or small ball) that would use sensors and report when it starts to float when queried using IOT techniques. A map of floodwater could then be created. These should be able to be deployed in the hundreds or thousands via airdrop or ground release. Ideally, the device would last up to one month and then be constructed from biodegradable material so as not to harm the environment.

Digital Technology
Technologic aid for curbing Arboviruses
Arboviruses are endemic mosquito-borne illnesses like Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika. In many regions of the world, the human suffering is huge, as well as the price tag for combating such public health massive problems. Identifying the birthplace of larvae and trying to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching are simple yet very effective measures to help public authorities drastically reduce the socio-economic impact of Arboviruses. It is widely known that mosquitos tend to lay their eggs in standing water. Therefore, it would be highly desirable that pieces of technology could be put together for either identifying and/or preventing candidate places for becoming selectable by mosquitos to lay their eggs; all that, of course, carried out in a fast, inexpensive and safe manner.