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The IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Competition recognizes students who develop unique solutions to real-world problems using engineering, science, computing and leadership skills to benefit their community, the world at large, or both. The contest offers students the perfect opportunity to have their ingenuity and enthusiasm for engineering and technology recognized by IEEE members around the globe. IEEE is proud to salute the winners of this prestigious competition.


IEEE Student Humanitarian Supreme Prize: US$10,000

PoaS@úde Telemedicine Project

Team Members
Alecio Binotto, Flavio Avila, Diego Bonesso, Mateus Bisotto, Alexandro Bordignon

Access to medical care is difficult for by people living in remote areas where there is a lack of medical specialists and public prevention programs. The problem increases on high complexity medical cases, because the access to hospitals is difficult due to transportation constraints.  People go for a consultation just when there are clear and acute symptoms. The PoaS@úde Telemedicine Project is aimed to develop a real-time eHealth solution and help to promote prevention programs. Furthermore, it is aimed to improve the quality of life of patients living in communities distant from hospitals.

The primary focus was on obstetric ultrasonography (US) for prenatal care. According to the World Health Organization, women need to visit a hospital at least four times during pregnancy. However, it is not rare that patients’ in remote areas first visit happens when they are already giving birth. This intrigued the PoaS@úde team and posed them a challenge: to improve this scenario by allowing women to have local access to adequate prenatal care.  Recent advances of broadband communication combined with multimedia compression methods convinced the team that Telemedicine Solutions could improve the quality of life of people located on remote and underserved areas by promoting prevention without transportation. The concepts were applied in remote districts of Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil, and in remote cities of the Amazon region, Northern Brazil.

The PoaS@úde team introduced a collaborative tele-ultrasound system over a hybrid network, which included the PLC (Power Line) and also satellite, based on multimedia data. The specialist doctor assists, guides, and interacts in real-time with the remote doctor who operates the US equipment.

PoaS@úde benefits the community in two ways: on one hand, pregnant patients are benefited and on the other, non-specialist/resident physicians. The benefit for the first group is the reduction of the absences in prenatal exams and the early diagnosis of pregnancy problems. The second group is benefited by training and contact with specialist doctors from the reference hospital.

UFRGS - Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul


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IEEE Distinguished Student Humanitarian Prize: US$5,000

The Microformer, Low Cost Electrification in Developing Nations using Post-Consumer Resources

Team Members
Daniel Ludois, Jonathan Lee, Patricio Mendoza

It is a surprising fact to some that a quarter of all humanity, 1.6 billion people, live without access to electricity.  In a large part, this is due to the high cost of extending and maintaining utilities in rural areas or poverty in general.  Many have proposed solutions for off-grid generation at the home scale, e.g. small wind or solar, but suffer from limited applicability to loads other than lighting due to weather variability and storage limitations.  By interconnecting the distributed small generation and storage in homes with existing generation available in nearby community centers, schools, and churches the overall electric service, and thus quality of life, may be improved. A microgrid at the community/village scale is a viable solution but requires a distribution system capable of delivering power over square kilometer areas.  Additionally, many renewable energy sources have geographic dependencies (small hydro or wind) and are not located near where the power is used.  Low voltage distribution systems cannot accomplish this task practically, but a modern high voltage system would prove far too expensive.  This poses an interesting problem, how does one move small amounts (kW) of power efficiently and affordably over square kilometers?  In response to this question, the team has developed a distribution platform that operates at an intermediate voltage based off of recycled post consumer resources for nearly the price of scrap materials.  The name the team gave to the solution to a low-cost-low-power electrification strategy for off-grid rural areas and developing nations is Microformer.

The team conceived of a new power distribution transformer using post-consumer electronics. It is called the Microformer. By using of low-cost, 1kW capacity transformers (recycled from  microwave ovens) operating at a transmission voltage of about 2kV, they have significantly added to the tools available for solving rural electrification problems in the developing world.

University of Wisconsin-Madison


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IEEE Exceptional Student Humanitarian Prize: US$2,500

OneBeep - Providing Digital Connectivity to Impoverished Nations

Team Members
Kayo Lakadia, Vinny Lohan, Chanyeol Yoo

Imagine a village way beyond broadband infrastructure or even phone lines. Such areas are the target of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) and
the Intel Classmate PC programmes, designed to get low-cost computers into poor communities. These initiatives have deployed a combined 2.6
million laptops to remote communities around the globe. There are plans to deploy 30 million more in the next five years just to East Africa.
This number accounts for only the laptops from these two main organisations which are by no means the only players in the market. There
have been thousands of other laptops, tablet PCs and desktops donated as part of ICT initiatives run by various charitable organisations
from around the world. All of these initiatives have the best intentions to distribute digital technologies to those less fortunate
communities. However there is a major and fundamental problem. A large percentage of the devices are in remote regions where there is no
existing internet or any other method of information transfer. 

These devices are digitally disconnected and have no way of receiving new updated information, or native language content meaning, they are
unable to utilize the potential of the digital world. There is currently no existing solution to this huge issue.

OneBeep has developed an inexpensive and robust method to send digital content to these devices. Using OneBeep's software, any digital file can be converted to audio, which is then sent via radio waves. This can be received on any AM/FM radio, which passes it on to the laptop via an inexpensive audio cable. The file is then converted back to its original form once it has been received on the devices. As every village has AM radios, you now have a low-cost way to beam out daily lessons, health material etc over long distances to thousands of devices. 

University Of Auckland


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Outstanding Student Humanitarian Prizes US$1,000 Each

Stery-Hand: Objective Hand Disinfection Quality Control

Team Members
Tamas Haidegger

Famous Hungarian physician, “savior of mothers”, Ignaz Semmelweis postulated the theory of surgical disinfection in the mid 19th century,
radically breaking down hospitality morbidity rate. However, even nowadays, there are still serious costs and complications associated with
hospital acquired infections (HAI), as it claims 15,000 lives annually only in Europe. One of the major sources of HAI (or nosocomial
infections) is the improper hand disinfection of the medical staff. HAI generates needless expenses, and also reduces the quality of life
of the patients, prolonging their recovery and promoting the resistance of pathogens against the antibiotics.

The procedures of hand disinfection have been widely discussed in recent studies, and are regulated by European and U.S. standards. Despite
the numerous automated disinfection stations and the spread of antibacterial soaps, the insufficient hand washing remains a major problem
in health care and also at home. It has been shown that at least 30% of nosocomial infections could be prevented. The fight against HAI
begins at the medical workers’ hand hygiene.

The team created a primer prototype, called Stery-Hand, that is able to give an objective result on hand disinfection quality due to the employed
digital image processing technology. After taken the picture of the washed hands under UV lighting, the computer automatically evaluates
the data, based on image processing functions and fuzzy c means clustering. This is an artificial intelligence method, which gives the
ability to teach the system (through sample images), therefore the device can be applied in various conditions and on all the people. The
outcome, or evaluation, is a picture of the hand showing the untreated parts in color; and also numerical result, which indicates the
goodness of the current hand washing.

Budapest University of Technology and Economics


Wireless Disaster Area Emergency Network (W-DAEN) to Save Human Lives

Team Members
Md. Abdur Rahman

After big natural/manmade disasters a quick and efficient response is essential to save lives. For most of the disasters, existing infrastructure like buildings, power, telecommunication etc. collapses. Nowadays almost all of the first responders use individual wireless systems to communicate with mobile teams. As there is no acceptable standard for these agencies, interoperability is still an issue for disaster communication. For example, in 9/11 case, lots of fire fighters entered the buildings. Later an announcement was made by the police about the possibility that the buildings may collapse. But the fire department didn’t receive the message and lots of fire fighters got trapped inside. In London subway bombing, the rescue teams lost connection to the base stations after entering the tunnel. Although multiple teams were working together, they couldn’t collaborate with each other. More recently, in Haiti earthquake, it took weeks to allocate the radio resources among the emergency agencies. Generally, rescue agencies come from all over the world. So, it is quite possible that two or more agencies with the same physical specifications (i.e. frequency, bandwidth, modulation etc.) come to the scene and interfere with each other. So it is necessary to build an automated database that will detect and dissipate the information of active emergency radios in the disaster area. Agencies coming to help can first check the database to check whether it will interfere with any existing system. In this project a spectrum sensing network has been designed and implemented that can develop a database of active emergency radios in the disaster area.

The main outcome of this project is a database of active emergency radios in the disaster area. The database contains the frequency, bandwidth, power, symbol rate, geolocation of each radio. This system will help the management and administrative personnel to allocate the wireless resources among the rescue agencies. The rescue teams may get an idea of the wireless environment of the disaster area before entering. Avoidance of interference will decrease the setup time and increase the communication performance also. Specifications of potential rescue teams are generally known in advance, but identification of these parameters is still necessary. So the sensor network placed in the area should blindly detect the information. The simulated and experimental results of spectrum sensing, carrier detection, online modulation classification, disaster channel characteristics and geolocation are important contributions to the wireless community. The system has been developed by using cheap hardware and open-source software. After disaster, most of the telecommunication infrastructures and power utilities collapse down. So, although people trapped inside may have a cellular phone or wireless device, still they can’t make any calls for help. The proposed system will have a geolocation unit that can find the geolocation based on the angle of arrival (AOA) or received signal strength (RSS). This system can scan the cellular spectrum and estimate the presence and location of any transmitting wireless device and the person nearby. 

Tokyo Institute of Technology


NeoSyP: Neonatal Syringe Pump for the Developing World

Team Members
Cynthia Sung, Elizabeth Carstens, Yiwen Cui, Rashmi Kamath, Clare Ouyang

In developed countries, neonates requiring nutritional and medicinal fluids receive them via electronic syringe pumps, which can deliver constant, continuous flow rates for long periods of time. However, neonates in developing countries are not so lucky. As with other developed world technologies, syringe pumps are rarely used in low resource hospitals because of their high cost, high failure rate, and dependence on electric power. Consequently, about 8.7 million children die in the developing world each year, over 40% during the neonatal period.

The team aimed to correct this problem by developing a mechanical syringe pump that specifically addresses the needs of neonates in low resource hospitals. The project appealed to them on two fronts. First, successful implementation could potentially have enormous impact, even larger than the survival of millions of neonates. Among all IV therapy technologies, the syringe pump has the greatest capability for constant flow rate. A working syringe pump could be used not only in neonatal wards, but on any patient requiring controlled fluid delivery. Second, the project would develop the technical and leadership skills of the team. Their design criteria differs greatly from those typical of developed world technology. In this age of electronics, designing an electricity-free constant-velocity driver would challenge their technical knowledge and creativity. Seeking input from the medical community during design and testing would also teach them effective interdisciplinary collaboration. In summary, they believe that completion of their syringe pump will not only give them valuable engineering experience but also decrease mortality in the developing world.

Rice University


A Highly-Efficient Energy Saving LPOD Process for Wastewater Treatment with AI Assistance

Team Members
Ludovic Krundel, Yimin Zhou, Xu Xia

It has been an increasingly important consideration in recent decades how to deal with wastewater. Along with the fast development in industry agriculture and medical advancement, the world population has experienced dramatic growth in the last 50 years. Such a significant expansion in population has raised concerns that the planet may not be able to sustain the large number of inhabitants. This can be illustrated by the over consumption and gradual lack of resources, and the fragile ecosystem has been tilting down thus endangering the survival environment of human beings. It is urgent and necessary, for the purpose of a sustainable development, to take active measures to conserve water, energy, and biological resources. Water is essential for life and it is the shared precious asset of any nations.

Water supply and sewerage system is vital to the water recycling in nature, which is a connecting junction for the society to reuse and recycle. Wastewater industry holds the balance of quality and quantity of the water. Continuing water consumption leads to greater waste water discharging and heavier burden on treatment system of the removal of harmful compounds in the liquid as well as more energy consumption. Currently, the parameter settings and control in water treatment process are mainly based on the human experience with less of precision and accuracy. With artificial intelligence and neural co-processor assistance, the process system can be controlled automatically and reliably according to the different characteristics of the dealt liquids thus achieving higher efficiency.

Loughborough University


Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering Pico-Hydro Project

Team Members
Theodore Sumers

Access to electricity in Africa is limited, particularly in rural areas where there is little or no grid infrastructure. Only 7% of the population in Rwanda has access to electricity; in rural areas, less than 1% of the population has electricity. The remoteness of Rwanda’s rural population renders conventional grid electrification unfeasible in the foreseeable future.

Development of industry is also hindered by the lack of infrastructure, and without any major economic activity there is little or no incentive for extending the existing electrical grid into remote rural areas. Larger, wealthier villages frequently employ diesel generators, but smaller communities are left in the dark. In areas without electricity, people must rely on kerosene for lighting, an expensive, polluting, and potentially dangerous solution. Many technologies and activities we take for granted—cell phones, refrigeration, and even studying or working after nightfall—are costly if not impossible.

As developing nations industrialize, they face enormous challenges; the team believe it is important to use o technological expertise to help overcome them efficiently and cleanly. With small-scale rural hydropower, we can sustainably bring electricity to even the most isolated communities, encouraging localized rural development and bringing them at least a fraction of the benefits we enjoy in everyday life.

The team’s approach is innovative because they focus on introducing low-cost sustainable hydropower technology which has the potential to spread without outside aid. Rather than relying on more traditional and expensive micro- or mini-hydropower, they scaled down the model and operate in the <5 kW range, operating a battery charging kiosk instead of powering a mini-grid.

Dartmouth College


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