We recently invited youth from California and beyond to submit their ideas for solving problems in their communities as part of KQED’s #EngineerThat student media challenge. With the help of the Teen Think Tank from the California Academy of Sciences, we chose our top five favorite submissions last month and asked you, the KQED audience, to weigh in with your votes. With nearly 4,500 votes cast, two student projects rose to the top. Meet the two student teams, see their awesome engineering solutions and hear what they had to say about participating in the challenge.

Winners of the Audience Vote: ePoints

ePoints is an app designed by Aliana Garcia and Aidan Crowley, high school students at Rosary Academy in Fullerton, California. The purpose of ePoints is for teachers and students to easily track and manage extra credit points or participation points. Check out ePoints here:

Why did you want to participate in the #EngineerThat student media challenge?
Participating in the #EngineerThat challenge was very exciting! We were inspired to participate because of our love for science and math, and this challenge increased our interest in engineering as well. It was intriguing to identify a problem in the community and be able to create a viable solution.

How did you come up with the problem you wanted to solve?
We noticed that in the classroom, teachers were always struggling to keep track of extra credit points or participation points. From slips of paper to participation checklists to mentally keeping track, there was no standardized method of tracking and logging points. We wanted to streamline the process and consolidate point-tracking into one concise app; that is how the idea for ePoints was born.

What was the most fun part of designing your solution?
The most fun part of designing ePoints was working together to come up with innovative ideas. We used a program called Balsamiq to explore all of the design possibilities for our app idea, and we came up with the best possible solution to get the job done.

What was the hardest part?
The most challenging part of the design process was compromise. When working as part of a team, there will inevitably be different opinions, but we were able to work together to achieve the best of both sides.

Why do you think learning about engineering is important?
Learning about engineering is important because it represents the future of our nation. Being able to identify a problem and come up with an original solution is a key aspect of what it means to be an innovative and critical thinker, the quintessential example of a true engineer.

Runner-Up of the Audience Vote: Handwashing Hound

Handwashing Hound was co-designed by Anurag Singh and Kaushik Tandon, sophomores at Monta Vista High School in Saratoga, California. Handwashing Hound is a computer vision system for ensuring compliance with the handwashing protocol specified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. See how it works here:

Why did you want to participate in the #EngineerThat student media challenge?
We wanted to participate in the challenge to be able to show our project that has the power to change the world. Our project can truly be beneficial in many ways, such as being a compliance system for doctors in hospitals, or an educational system in public restrooms. This media challenge gave us the ability bring our ideas to a larger audience.

How did you come up with the problem you wanted to solve?
When we first began brainstorming for this idea, Ebola was a hot news topic. Further research found that doing something so simple as washing hands could actually reduce the spread of disease. We then found out that 95 percent of people do not wash their hands correctly. We wanted to make a simple system that could solve this problem.

What was the most fun part of designing your solution?
The best part of designing the solution was doing the code in Java, and actually being able to analyze each frame to allow the software to detect what the eye can see quite easily, such as that the hands are in the water and the water is turned on.

What was the hardest part?
The hardest part was determining if the water was on or off. Water is difficult to detect with either the RGB or the depth camera as it is transparent. To solve this problem, we used a water powered faucet LED light that turns blue when the water is turned on. Our system observes this blue light to determine if the water is on.

Why do you think learning about engineering is important?
Engineering has the power to change the world and can be used to make major advancements for humanity. The possibilities of the future are endless–it is engineering that will get us there. Just like it has always been done in the past!

Meet the Top Youth Teams from #EngineerThat 29 June,2016Andrea Aust

  • Uma Patchava

    Hand wash prevents many diseases and saves lives. Hand washing Hound is a great project for public health. Congrats to Anurag singh and Koushik Tandon.

Author

Andrea Aust

Andrea is the Senior Manager of Science Education for KQED. In addition to QUEST, she's had the pleasure of coordinating education and outreach for the public television series Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures and the four-hour documentary Saving the Bay. Andrea graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Environmental Science and earned her M.A. in Teaching and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the University of San Francisco. Prior to KQED, she taught, developed, and managed marine science and environmental education programs in Aspen, Catalina Island and the Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter at @KQEDaust.

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