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The 2015 IEEE Presidents' Change the World Competition is a contest designed to recognize students who identify a real-world problem, apply engineering, science, computing, and leadership skills to solve it, and, thereby, benefit humanity or their community.


Judging criteria

Submissions will be initially evaluated and ranked by individuals selected by the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference. This judging committee will review the entry rankings and select the top 15 finalist projects that best meet the competition criteria. The committee will then forward the selections to the IEEE Presidents for final judging.

The 2014, 2015, and 2016 IEEE Presidents will evaluate the 15 projects and select the prize winners based on the results achieved and their impact on humanity or on a community.

The selections of winners will occur during April 2015 and announcement of the top winner will occur at the IEEE Honors Ceremony in June 2015.


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2015 volunteer judges

Kapil R. Dandekar received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia, VA, USA, in 1997. He received an M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA, in 1998 and 2001, respectively. In 1992, he worked at the US Naval Observatory and from 1993 to 1997, at the US Naval Research Laboratory.

In 2001, Dandekar joined the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, USA. He is currently a Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University; the Director of the Drexel Wireless Systems Laboratory (DWSL); Associate Dean for Research in the Drexel University College of Engineering. DWSL has been supported by the US National Science Foundation, Army CERDEC, National Security Agency, Office of Naval Research, and private industry. Dandekar’s current research interests and publications involve wireless, ultrasonic, and optical communications, reconfigurable antennas, and smart textiles. Intellectual property from DWSL has been licensed by external companies for commercialization. Dandekar is also a past and current member of the IEEE Educational Activities Board and co-founder of the EPICS-in-IEEE program.

Niru Prakash Kumar obtained an undergraduate degree in power systems engineering from India. After working for IT consulting companies, she decided to move to the US and further her interests in power systems engineering. She finished her MS in Energy Systems from the University of Washington in Seattle and went on to work with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Dept. of Energy-run National Laboratory. Her research interests included effective demand response techniques to improve energy efficiency. She completed her MBA from Cornell University last summer where she was recognized both as an ‘Environmental Finance and Impact Investing Fellow’ as well as an ‘Emerging Markets Fellow.’ Her interests now include the most cost-effective methods of making technology accessible to the base of the pyramid. She also works as a Technical Product consultant working on energy management strategy and projects for her company Focus Energy, previously WindLogics, a NextEra group company.

Niru is also heavily involved with IEEE. She is currently working with IEEE Smart Village (IEEE SV). Apart from other things she is helping IEEE SV’s with strategies for rural electrification projects in India. She is also part of IEEE’s Energy Policy Committee. She also served on IEEE’s Humanitarian Ad Hoc Committee whose primary responsibility was to set direction and policies for IEEE member engagement in humanitarian activities. She has also served as IEEE’s Region 6 (Western US, Alaska, and Hawaii) Women in Engineering coordinator helping set up various Women in Engineering groups for the benefit of IEEE women engineers and also for helping in K12 outreach efforts for engineering.

Kartik Kulkarni is a Senior member of Technical Staff at Oracle Corporation’s Data and In-Memory Technology Group. He is a primary contributor to the Oracle In-memory Database, which was launched by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison at Open World 2013, San Francisco, CA, USA. He develops memory-hardware aware algorithms (patents pending) to enable scale-out, and high availability of data.

Kartik did his Masters from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Electrical and Computer Engineering; he is an alumnus of CMU's Parallel Data Lab, where his research was on scaling metadata performance of cluster file systems. He did his B.E. from B.V.Bhoomaraddi College (BVBCET) Hubli, India in Electronics and Communication.

Kartik chairs the IEEE Special Interest Groups on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) Steering Committee. SIGHT is a growing community of 50+ groups of engineers in 19 countries, working on solving community problems using technology solutions. In 2014, this community engaged 1400+ engineers benefiting 10,000+ people through projects and activities in the areas such as education, energy, health, and assistive technologies. In 2009, Kartik led his team winning IEEE Change the World contest for the project “Electronic aids for physically and mentally challenged children.”

Kartik believes that IEEE, being the community of 450,000+ engineers in 160+ countries, can be potentially a strong global taskforce of volunteers committed to championing technology solutions for development and solving community problems. This taskforce if oriented and channeled could produce local community leaders in important efforts such as activism, awareness, advocacy, and deployment of technology-based solutions.

Raj Madhavan is with the Institute for Systems Research and a member of the Maryland Robotics Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA. Currently he is on leave working on applying robotics and automation technologies for the benefit of humanity in a variety of domains. His work focuses on the applied use of robotics and automation technologies for the benefit of under-served and under-developed communities by working closely with them to sustain developed solutions. This is made possible by bringing together researchers, practitioners from industry, academia, government, and various entities such as the IEEE Robotics Automation Society’s Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (RAS-SIGHT), NGOs, NPOs, and other organizations across the globe.

He has held appointments with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (March 2002-June 2013) and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (March 2001-January 2010). He received his Ph.D. in Field Robotics from the University of Sydney, and an M.E. (Research) in Systems Engineering from the Australian National University. Dr. Madhavan has been serving as the Vice President of the Industrial Activities Board (2013-2016), Chair of the Standing Committee for Standards Activities (2011-2015), and since Sept. 2012 as the Chair of the Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT), all within the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. For additional details, see He can be contacted via e-mail at

Amarnath Raja is a graduate of IIT Delhi. After graduation, he worked with Amul and later with 'milma' developing one of the early computer-based ERP system for Dairies in Kerala (as early as 1985). After more than a decade in 'milma,' he was employed by IBM Japan as the Manager Technical Services in their JP Morgan project. In this capacity he had the opportunity to manage large data centers and design the early Internet-based systems.

In 2000 along with his friends, he established "InApp," a technology company specializing in cutting-edge software. He is currently the Partner and CEO of InApp. The company is based out of Technopark in Trivandrum and has subsidiaries in USA and Japan.

In IEEE he has served as the Kerala Section Chair, been a member of the Execom of the Asia-Pacific Region, and has been the first Chair of the HAHC a Global Humanitarian Technology Initiative of IEEE.

He is very active in the Free and Open Source movement and an early adopter of Linux and has advocated use of FOSS in Government and Quasi-Government organizations. He is the member of the advisory committee in ICFOSS, a body of the Govt of Kerala to promote FOSS. He is also a director in SPACE, an NGO on Free Software and Alternative Computing.

He is also the Chairman of Bedroc, an NGO based in Nagapattinam, Tamilnadu. The NGO helps Tsunami victims and other coastal populations in improving their livelihood.

Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan, an internationally recognized technologist, is best known for his pioneering leadership and technological innovations in developing large-scale computing systems, advanced software technologies, and systems engineering solutions to solve complex real-world computing challenges across multidisciplinary domains such as healthcare, disabilities, education, security and poverty-alleviation. Mr. Veeraraghavan is the founder and director of the technology-based humanitarian program “The Brahmam” (meaning knowledge) which aims to address pressing global and local humanitarian challenges in developing nations through advanced technological solutions. For about a decade, he delivered technology-based sustainable programs that brought together the engineering community, Non-Government Organizations, Governmental agencies, engineers, students and disability advocacy-groups to improve the living conditions of children with disabilities, impoverished women and students in developing nations. He received his M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University, MA, USA (2010), and B.E. in Computer Science and Engineering from Anna University, Tamil Nadu, India (2005). He is a senior software engineer in the SPARC Platform Software group at the Oracle Corporation where he is engaged in the research and development of Oracle’s advanced enterprise servers portfolio.

Veeraraghavan’s exemplary scholarly contributions and leadership accredited him with numerous global honors. Currently, he is the global IEEE Member & Geographic Activities Governor-At-Large for IEEE-HKN and serves the IEEE-HKN board of governors. He has extensively contributed to numerous IEEE global committees such as IEEE-HKN, IEEE History committee, IEEE SIGHT, IEEE EMCC, IEEE Public Visibility initiatives, IEEE educational activities, IEEE Young Professionals, and IEEE Humanitarian efforts. As an active IEEE and IEEE-HKN volunteer, he enjoys volunteering and serves in global engineering forums to promote the advancement of engineering and technology.

Deepak Mathur holds a B.E. in Electronics and Communication and an MBA. He works with Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd., India’s premier public sector company as Deputy General Manager.

Deepak has served IEEE at various volunteer positions at section, council, region and MGA. He was Chair of Gujarat Section (2006-07); Executive Committee member of Region 10 from 2009-14, where he served as Vice Chair Technical activities and coordinated Chapter Activities and Humanitarian Technology Activities. He was instrumental in establishing first Region 10 Humanitarian Technology Conference which was held in Sendai, Japan in 2013. He also created opportunities for members for working on humanitarian projects in Region 10.

Deepak is serving as Chair of SIGHT Operations Committee (2014-15) under SIGHT Steering Committee of IEEE and also a member of IEEE MGA Strategic Direction and Environment Assessment committee (2014-15).

He has played a crucial and important role in reviving the SSIT (IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology) newsletter. He currently serves as Editor of the SSIT e-Newsletter and is also a member of SSIT Board of Governors.

Presently Deepak is serving as Chair of IEEE India Council and he is recipient of ‘2008 Region 10 Outstanding Volunteer Award’ and ‘2010 IEEE MGA Achievement Award.’

Deepak believes that in view of the growth of technology and its growing application in our daily life, IEEE plays a very important and significant role in the society also. IEEE needs to focus more on humanitarian technology and social implications of technology aspect through its programs. He believes that if more engineers start looking at social aspects of technologies, many problems arising from excessive use and/or mis-use of technologies could be addressed and technologies could be used for improving the life of underprivileged population.

Prasanna Venkatesan is currently the Product Owner and Co-founder of Hubvents. With these efforts he is bringing innovative ways to connect people in real life both in organized meetings like conferences and also in real-life activities.

Prior to this, Prasanna founded and lead the iCollaborate Project in IBM Labs where he lead a team of technology experts to develop a system that could power real-time people connections based on mutual interests . He has deep interests in the areas of Data mining, Information Retrieval and people connections. At IBM he was recognized by the VP of IBM Labs for his efforts as the Campus Relationship Manager for IBM University Relations. Prasanna has one patent pending with the US PTO and few technology publications in IEEE and ACM Conferences. He received his Bachelors of Technology in Computer Science engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Warangal, India. As a student he conducted his research in the areas of Grid Computing Security.

Prasanna’s involvement with IEEE has been multi-faceted, serving as a: 1) Chair of Section Education Outreach Committee; 2) Member of Educational Activities Board; 3) MGA Board Representative of Educational Activities Board; 4) Asia Pacific Coordinator of the Initiative “Global Integrated Network of IEEE Students”; 5) Gold Liaison of Educational Activities Board; and 6) Member of Committee on Humanitarian Activities.


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