UCLA Engineering’s CEED Awarded $25,000 for Student Participation in the Intel Innovation Challenge

Jun 9, 2009

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Intel awarded UCLA Engineering’s Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity (CEED) $25,000 for its students’ impressive accomplishment of the Intel Innovation Challenge last month. The project asked the undergraduate team to utilize computer technology to develop creative solutions that could mitigate losses from catastrophic natural disasters.

The team, named the Bruin Disaster Coalition, presented the results of their project on May 15 at Intel’s headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

“With the Intel Innovation Challenge, Intel gave the CEED students an ambiguous problem to solve regarding natural disaster relief.” said Dani Napier Harrison, a recruiter for Intel. “They developed a solution and presented to Intel researchers, working on this very problem. The students did an exceptional job of organizing their team, engaging in thorough research and presenting novel computing and information technology solutions to disaster relief.”

Over the course of the months-long project, the team from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science developed several technical solutions to problems commonly experienced during natural disasters.

The potential disasters they tackled included those that can be tracked a few days ahead of time, such as a hurricane or snowstorm, as well as those where the detection time of the event is very minimal, such as an earthquake or tsunami.
One problem was how to get emergency messages to the general public beyond traditional ways, such as via television and radio broadcasts, in a quick and effective manner.

The team proposed converting existing technologies such as digital billboards and mass text messaging into an alert system. The team also proposed incorporating advanced emergency alarm systems into a smoke detector platform, as these devices are common in households.

The students also suggested utilizing technology such as mobile ad hoc networks and smart sensors that would speed up disaster-area communications and help mitigate post-disaster hazards, such as fires from downed electrical systems.
“Presenting our ideas to a group of experts was intimidating, but the praise that we received from the audience gave us a great sense of accomplishment,” said Eric Padilla, a senior materials engineering major and the leader of the project. “It was very rewarding to know that the professionals listening to us valued our work and treated us not as students, but as fellow engineers.”

“The relationship with CEED has been very rewarding for Intel,” said Harrison “Not only have we been able to support these students in their community outreach, we’ve also hired some very bright interns and fulltime employees. Personally, I have really enjoyed getting to know them all, administration and students.”

The Bruin Disaster Coalition team members included UCLA Engineering students: Eric Padilla, Erick Romero, Guillermo Flores-Beltran, Christina Gillus, Ray Avalos, Hugo Castrejon, Bryan Chaidez, Ashley Tiapon, Anthony Gallegos, Magdeleno Nuñez and Olaleke Owolabi. The team’s mentor from Intel was Joseph G. Rascon, a product development engineer with the company.

Team members included students who are also members of the American Indian Science and Engineer Society (AISES); the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE); and the Society of Latino Engineers and Scientists (SOLES).

Intel, the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live.

The UCLA Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity (CEED) is committed to the development, recruitment, retention, and graduation of underrepresented engineering and computing students. The CEED Mission is to work with a community of partners to ensure equity and parity in the K-20 pathways that lead to engineering and computing degrees. CEED’s undergraduate retention approach offers numerous programs and services focused on the personal, academic, and career development of economically disadvantaged and underrepresented engineering and computing students at UCLA.

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