#PCBeTheChange Student Design Competition Winners Announced! | Upverter Education

Created: February 2, 2022
Updated: August 10, 2022
#PCBeTheChange Student Design Competition Winners Announced! | Upverter Education

The votes are in! The winning entries for The Innovation for Environmental Change 2021 International Student Design Competition (#PCBeTheChange) have been announced. 

This is the first student design competition launched by Upverter Education, a division of Altium, in partnership with the IPC Education Foundation and Arduino, an open-source hardware and software company. These three tech leaders created a competitive space for young innovators around the world to share ideas, showcase their knowledge, their talent, and demonstrate excellence.

High school, and college/university, student teams were challenged to create STEM solutions to environmental problems using Altium’s Upverter Modular PCB design software and Arduino Portenta H7 hardware. Entries were received from over 17 countries including the US, Afghanistan, India, Australia, Greece, France & Guatemala. All of the student teams submitted creative projects detailing viable solutions to environmental concerns in their communities utilizing Upverter and Arduino tools.

"I was blown away by the breadth of ideas that were submitted in the first PCBeTheChange competition.  Contestants proposed solutions to improve things from city traffic to shoreline erosion to saving bees.  Their imagination and creativity was truly inspiring.  I look forward to being involved in the next competition and seeing the next batch of extraordinary ideas." says Andrew Smith, Head of Upverter

The winners were chosen based on their solution’s impact and relevance to their community. The panel of judges included lead design engineers from Upverter and Arduino.

 "I found the projects in the context very relevant to address contemporary societal challenges. They were an example of how technology can be put at the service of the many. Both the proposals and the suggested solutions were an amazing display of ingenuity, curiosity, and technical skills, some of the most demanded qualities in the engineers of the future." says David Cuartielles, Co-Founder of Arduino

We are proud to introduce the winners from both the high school and college/university categories of The Innovation for Environmental Change 2021 International Student Design (#PCBeTheChange) competition!

High School Winners 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place

The Zebracorns

1st Place

The Zebracorns
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

Zebracorn board design: Honey Bee Hive Sensors - non-invasive sensors that can detect Varroa mites within beehives and determine abnormal fluctuations with the hope to mitigate the loss of beehives in the area.

Team Statement: 

"Young innovators always begin challenges with a disadvantage. And that’s inexperience. During a global pandemic, there was the additional limitation of not being able to meet face to face. Yet, winning this challenge demonstrates our ability to overcome these obstacles and produce a device with the potential to keep our communities thriving in the long term. In this sense, our success shows how the spirit of innovation can thrive in even the most difficult circumstances, and that even across distances, we can come together to enact positive change for the future."
 

2nd Place 

Afghan Dreamers

Afghan Dreamers board design: Smart Traffic Lights System - automatically control traffic quickly and accurately by counting the number of cars with IR proximity sensors. The board can send and receive data via Wi-Fi to submit all reports to the traffic department.

Team Statement: 

"Fortunately, in 2021 we were able to participate in the PCBeTheChange Competition. This competition was among 87 entries and we got 2nd place! We are so excited because our situation is different from other countries. In this journey, we tried our best and tried as hard as we could." 

Parker Pioneers

Parker Pioneers

3rd Place

Parker Pioneers 
Francis Parker High School, San Diego, CA 

Parker Pioneers board design: Custom PC Board Sensor - can measure the pH of runoff to determine if organizations should change their practices (i.e. using too much fertilizers that could be harmful to the environment).

Team Statement:

"When we, the Parker Pioneers, found out that we had placed 3rd in the high school section of the PCBeTheChange competition, we were thrilled. The natural world is changing more every day, both with innovations and environmental consequences. Having the opportunity to design a PCB to address one of those issues was an interesting project, and we learned a lot from it, in both areas of board design and environmental awareness. To see our board succeed is very exciting, and it is a great stepping stone towards helping to solve larger problems in our world."

University Winners 1st, 2nd, 3rd Place

Bushfire Watch

1st Place 

Bushfire Watch Aus 
Curtin University, Perth, Australia

Bushfire Watch board design: Bushfire Monitor - a battery powered PCB design that can plug and play with many sensor components. Boards can also be connected using Smart IoT to automatically detect each other and alert the entire network. This could potentially save lives and detect Bushfires more efficiently.

Team Statement; 

"From the start, we at Bushfire Watch Aus strived to do our best and see where it would take us. While we were hoping to get top 3, never in our wildest dreams did we expect to come first. To us, winning this competition demonstrates what happens when teamwork, a shared vision, and innovation collide. This project has been a perfect example of the impact a simple idea can have when pursued passionately."

Swan River Clean Up Crew

2nd Place 

Swan River Clean Up Crew 
Curtin University, Perth, Australia 

Swan River board design:  Solar-powered Lora-Enabled Buoy - powers itself with a solar array and has an antenna on top to communicate between buoys to collect data. The PCB is housed in a waterproof box and is designed to measure multiple quality indicators. The buoy could help oxygenate the water to prevent nutrient runoff, with the hope of developing a sustainable river ecosystem in their area.

Team Statement: 

"It has been a great experience to take part in the PCBeTheChange competition for myself and the team. Engaging with the local community on an environmental issue that is unique to our city has been extremely rewarding. We are looking forward to testing and developing our PCB towards making a difference. Thank you to Altium’s Upverter Education, the IPC education foundation, and Arduino for providing us with this opportunity."

UPatras Robotics Club

3rd Place

UPatras Robotics Club 
University of Patras, Greece 

UPatras Robotics Club board design:  Artemis System - a low-powered, multi-sensor system. The board supports LoRaWAN communication and camera input to allow fast fire detection in inaccessible areas and anti-theft mechanisms.

Team Statement: 

"We are extremely honored to be receiving such an important award. We are earnestly grateful to Arduino, IPC Education Foundation, and Upverter Education for giving us the opportunity to develop our project. Bright ideas can come from people who are trying to solve everyday problems in their community. We sincerely hope that our concept for early fire detection, which was originally inspired by the forest fires that Greece has recently suffered, will contribute to preventing further catastrophes."

Winning teams will receive cash prizes for each category: $1500 (1st prize), $750 (2nd prize), and $500 (3rd prize). All of the winning teams' boards will be proudly displayed at the IPC APEX EXPO event booth and a video of the winning boards will be showcased virtually at the AltiumLive Connect 2022 event webpage. 

Upverter Education, IPC Education, and Arduino representatives were thoroughly impressed with the hard work and dedication shown by each team. The incredible originality and overall solution objectives demonstrated by their projects serve to underscore that tomorrow’s engineers are committed to not only advancing the design industry but to changing the world. 

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