The Innovation Workshop Project Fair took place yesterday (Tuesday, September 10). The fair is a day-long event in which professors and research scientists representing Skoltech’s CREIs conduct presentations to attract students to participate in their respective projects. The day was broken up into eight sessions, each half an hour long with five presentations, bringing the total number of presentations to forty. At the end of each session, students had the opportunity to meet with and pose questions to the speakers that caught their interest. The presented projects differed greatly: one involved using robotics to help autistic children, another involved the development of drones powered by solar cells, and others covered eGaming, pulse fiber lasers, and so on.
We caught up with some of the speakers to hear about their projects and some of their views on Innovation Workshop:
Assistant Professor Alexander Panchenko (CDISE). Image by Timur Sabirov.
“People like to compare various things, be it cities to visit or live in or mobile phones to buy. In this project, we address individuals’ need for comparative information by trying to design a technology that will work for any domain, and not just for a narrow domain like mobile phone cameras. We are interested in extracting from text the information needed to answer this question but also to combine it with the information available in the knowledge bases. In this particular research proposal, we are aiming at developing a human-computer interface in a form of a dialogue system for addressing such comparative information needs. The system could subsequently be integrated as a module in various generic chat-bots and assistants, such as Siri or Alexa to answer comparative questions of the users on any topic.” – Assistant Professor Alexander Panchenko (CDISE)
Associate Professor of Practice Alexey Cheremisin (SCHR). Image by Timur Sabirov.
“This is the second Innovation Workshop that I am involved in. I was a mentor at IW 2018 and there were some very good projects. They weren’t related to oil and gas and most were related to B2C projects, but a number of them were almost ready for startups. This year, I expect it to be even better and that a number of projects will go from the prototype phase to the startup phase. That is what I expect for my project as well, because we already won STRIP and we would like to create a small startup in which students can take part and I hope that they will find a new interest in areas out on how to apply technology to the oil and gas business area.” – Associate Professor of Practice Alexey Cheremisin (SCHR)
Associate Professor Jacob Biamonte (CDISE). Image by Timur Sabirov.
“My project uses the teaching practice originally developed by MIT. Kelvin Willoughby (CEI) looked at my initial proposal and made sure that it followed the original MIT concept and teaching method. That method has the students come up with a solution of their own, freely, but within a “problem space” that we define. We first identify both a problem and a solution, but we do not share this information with the students. Rather, we then work backwards from our solution to design the problem space within which the students carry out their project. We then give the students freedom and maximum opportunity — with proper guidance — to discover a problem and solution of their own, within the defined problem space. They will probably arrive at a solution similar to the one we envisioned, but they might come up with a completely different and better idea! In this method it is important for the students to develop a prototype of the underlying problem, not just the solution.
My particular project is called, “Lost in Space: Recasting Navigational Experience.” It is a concept that technology has changed the way we drive and the way that we fly, but that technology doesn’t work when we are inside a building on foot. How can technology augment the experience of a user inside a space? As a test case, we’re going to allow students to experiment with our new and beautiful campus at Skoltech.
Innovation, according to the original MIT concept, is to take ideas to impact. Innovation is about novel solutions and can lead to a startup but shouldn’t always be forced to. Many things can change the world but do not lead to startups. If one discovers a way that changes how water is delivered in Africa or how vaccines work, there might be no market but the impact is tremendous. That is what divides entrepreneurship from innovation. Entrepreneurship is an outcome of innovative ideas. Innovation is what excites students and underpins the Innovation Workshop and Skoltech as a whole.” – Associate Professor Jacob Biamonte (CDISE)
Nikita Veliev, graduate (SES). Image by Timur Sabirov.
“While some mega-constellation operators are heading towards launching more and more satellites, we’re facing the problem of servicing them. One of the opportunities is in replenishing a constellation with new satellites and active debris removal. But there is lot more! We want our students to make a business case for any type of space-tug servicing.” – MSc-2 Nikita Veliev (SSC)
Associate Professor Dzmitry Tsetserukou (SSC). Image by Timur Sabirov.
“Part of our society needs more advanced technologies than others to considerably improve the quality of their lives. Our goal is to make families with ASD children feel happy, and to be able to influence the child’s recovery. We expect that robots with AI will make the connection between parents and their children stronger. Not only can parents take a key part in the rehabilitation process, they can also see how the child is progressing in developing the fine and gross motor skills.” - Associate Professor Dzmitry Tsetserukou (SSC)
Assistant Professor Maria Sokolova (CLS). Image by Timur Sabirov.
“I think that one of the most challenging experience for students is to work as a team of multidisciplinary people. It may frustrate them first but this is probably the most valuable experience from the IW since it is exactly how things happen in real life. To get results you need to be a good team player, try and know yourself in different roles and be able to adapt to different circumstances not only among friends you know for a long time. I am glad that Skoltech provides such challenges. The project that I suggested to students is not related to my research. I picked it up solely for the Innovation Workshop because it shows how synthetic biology can solve old problems in new ways.” – Assistant Professor Maria Sokolova (CLS)
Associate Professor Sergey Rykovanov (CDISE). Image by Timur Sabirov.
“I am working in supercomputers that are capable of doing largescale calculations. Normally they cost millions of dollars; the idea behind this project is that instead of spending millions of dollars, you could combine the computers that are present in a given company – that is, use them when they would normally be sitting idle.” – Associate Professor Sergey Rykovanov (CDISE)
Assistant Professor Zeljko Tekic (CEI). Image by Timur Sabirov.
“I believe that our students are very good at solving problems. My task is to inspire them to recognize problems. Thus, today I proposed several ideas to trigger their problem recognition. Common to all of these ideas is that they are focused on Skoltech and the Innovation Center – on our house! So, if any of these ideas are selected, further developed and executed, we can expect some new things.” – Assistant Professor Zeljko Tekic (CEI)
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