Game Changers | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online

Great story about a student project that involves text to speech to help disabled people.

University of the Philippines students Erwin Solate, Katrina Volate, and Benedict Andrade prove that Filipinos can succeed in science and technology with their win in Indra Future Minds, a technologies-based international university competition.
University of the Philippines students Erwin Solate, Katrina Volate, and Benedict Andrade prove that Filipinos can succeed in science and technology with their win in Indra Future Minds, a technologies-based international university competition.

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos are known for being one of the most cheerful and welcoming people, for producing world-class talents, and for having a skilled and efficient workforce.

But just recently, three students from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman have proven that we also have some of the brightest and innovative young minds in the world by bagging the top prize in the Indra Future Minds, a technologies-based international university competition. Indra is a technology and innovation company serving different sectors such as transport, energy, and telecommunications.

Winning wasn’t an easy feat because Katrina Volante, Erwin Soleta, both BS Electronics and Communications Engineering students, and Benedict Andrade, a BS Industrial Engineering student, had to battle it out against 14 teams from different universities from Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and the Czech Republic.

VIRTUAL PHASE

In the virtual phase, where participants had to solve challenges based on actual Indra projects, the Philippine group teamed up with students from the Polytechnic University of Madrid to form Team Aelous. They were tasked to develop a project for the UAV Pelicano, an unmanned aerial vehicle that will support rescue operations and assist in the struggle against arms, piracy, and drug trafficking.

“We had to create a solution for its automatic landing, to create a market study, and also to search for risk issues,” explains member Katrina Volante.

Being in a bigger group should have made things easier for them, but this wasn’t exactly the case. Not only did they have to deal with people from a totally different culture, they also had other school works to worry about being graduating students at that time.

 “And of course we had to deal with time differences, language barriers and tech problems,” Benedict Andrade recounts.

JOURNEY TO THE FINALS

But their hard work and patience served them well; it even earned them a spot in the semi-finals which meant that they were headed to Barcelona, Spain to compete in the next round.

Going to the next level wasn’t exactly all fun and games since they had to work on two projects simultaneously – one for the semi-finals and another for the finals round even if they weren’t even sure about getting in.

CREATING A SMART ENVIRONMENT

For the semis, the UP team developed a ubiquitous system that will help persons with disabilities adapt to the current technology. For the finals, they did a feasibility study on the municipality of Barcelona concerning the use of a new mobile technology for their civil services.

Katrina explains that they needed to develop a system in such that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablets will automatically configure themselves based on the preferences of the disabled person.

“For example, blind people can’t obviously see a text message on their mobile phones so with the system that we developed, the phone should automatically configure itself to text-to-speech,” she illustrates.

“In a nut shell, our solution was to promote a smart environment so whenever a disabled person walks into a room, a device will configure for him or her proactively; that even without him or her asking for it to do so, it would be smart enough to adjust itself,” Benedict resolves.

NOT AN EASY ROAD

While this may sound easy for people with a good engineering background, the catch is that they had to do all these in a month’s time and they had to do it alone, with zero background on the city they are creating the system for.

“If you come to think of it, it’s a total disadvantage for us because we know nothing about Barcelona unlike our competitors who either were originally from Spain or knew a lot about the country (they competed against teams from the Polytechnic University of Madrid and the Sao Paulo Faculty of Technology),” shares Katrina.

What’s more,  they knew not a lot about the Spanish language, and that was one of their biggest setbacks, as Erwin Soleta recalls: “When we were looking for resources, some of the very useful ones, when we opened the files, were all written in Spanish. At least the team from Brazil knew a little Spanish so they probably understood the article, more or less. Our worry was that we might end up understanding it differently.”

PH FOR THE WIN

But true to the UP tradition, none of them backed down. Notwithstanding the disadvantages, the Philippine team did what they could and eventually won the title for their countrymen.

“To tell you honestly, our goal during the start of the competition was just to go to Spain. And then we reached the semi-finals and that’s when we realized that this was such a big deal because we’re representing not just the Philippines but also Asia, since we’re the only Asian country in the competition, so we really took it seriously,” says Katrina.

Benedict adds that what also really inspired and pushed them to work harder was the advice that they got from their dean, Dr. Aura Matias.

“She once told us that even if we come from a third world country university, that even if we’re not exactly the best in our class, just the fact that we come from the University of the Philippines already means that we’re probably one of the best in the country. And what this contest has shown us is that probably, if we work hard enough, we could be the best in the world,” Benedict says.

PAY IT FORWARD

Their exposure to Europe provided the members with insights about our own country and that it made them realize that the Philippines is really behind and that something must be done about this.

All of them agree that helping create a better future for this country is just a matter of starting with yourself, believing in what you can do, sharing your talents and your ideas, and paying it forward to others.

As Katrina points out, “It’s about believing in yourself and in your ideas. And once you start believing in your own capabilities, that’s the time you share it with people. Who knows, it might just make the huge difference that we’ve all been waiting for.”

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University of the Philippines students Erwin Solate, Katrina Volate, and Benedict Andrade prove that Filipinos can succeed in science and technology with their win in Indra Future Minds, a technologies-based international university competition.

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Game Changers | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online

Great story about a student project that involves text to speech to help disabled people.

University of the Philippines students Erwin Solate, Katrina Volate, and Benedict Andrade prove that Filipinos can succeed in science and technology with their win in Indra Future Minds, a technologies-based international university competition.
University of the Philippines students Erwin Solate, Katrina Volate, and Benedict Andrade prove that Filipinos can succeed in science and technology with their win in Indra Future Minds, a technologies-based international university competition.

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos are known for being one of the most cheerful and welcoming people, for producing world-class talents, and for having a skilled and efficient workforce.

But just recently, three students from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman have proven that we also have some of the brightest and innovative young minds in the world by bagging the top prize in the Indra Future Minds, a technologies-based international university competition. Indra is a technology and innovation company serving different sectors such as transport, energy, and telecommunications.

Winning wasn’t an easy feat because Katrina Volante, Erwin Soleta, both BS Electronics and Communications Engineering students, and Benedict Andrade, a BS Industrial Engineering student, had to battle it out against 14 teams from different universities from Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and the Czech Republic.

VIRTUAL PHASE

In the virtual phase, where participants had to solve challenges based on actual Indra projects, the Philippine group teamed up with students from the Polytechnic University of Madrid to form Team Aelous. They were tasked to develop a project for the UAV Pelicano, an unmanned aerial vehicle that will support rescue operations and assist in the struggle against arms, piracy, and drug trafficking.

“We had to create a solution for its automatic landing, to create a market study, and also to search for risk issues,” explains member Katrina Volante.

Being in a bigger group should have made things easier for them, but this wasn’t exactly the case. Not only did they have to deal with people from a totally different culture, they also had other school works to worry about being graduating students at that time.

 “And of course we had to deal with time differences, language barriers and tech problems,” Benedict Andrade recounts.

JOURNEY TO THE FINALS

But their hard work and patience served them well; it even earned them a spot in the semi-finals which meant that they were headed to Barcelona, Spain to compete in the next round.

Going to the next level wasn’t exactly all fun and games since they had to work on two projects simultaneously – one for the semi-finals and another for the finals round even if they weren’t even sure about getting in.

CREATING A SMART ENVIRONMENT

For the semis, the UP team developed a ubiquitous system that will help persons with disabilities adapt to the current technology. For the finals, they did a feasibility study on the municipality of Barcelona concerning the use of a new mobile technology for their civil services.

Katrina explains that they needed to develop a system in such that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablets will automatically configure themselves based on the preferences of the disabled person.

“For example, blind people can’t obviously see a text message on their mobile phones so with the system that we developed, the phone should automatically configure itself to text-to-speech,” she illustrates.

“In a nut shell, our solution was to promote a smart environment so whenever a disabled person walks into a room, a device will configure for him or her proactively; that even without him or her asking for it to do so, it would be smart enough to adjust itself,” Benedict resolves.

NOT AN EASY ROAD

While this may sound easy for people with a good engineering background, the catch is that they had to do all these in a month’s time and they had to do it alone, with zero background on the city they are creating the system for.

“If you come to think of it, it’s a total disadvantage for us because we know nothing about Barcelona unlike our competitors who either were originally from Spain or knew a lot about the country (they competed against teams from the Polytechnic University of Madrid and the Sao Paulo Faculty of Technology),” shares Katrina.

What’s more,  they knew not a lot about the Spanish language, and that was one of their biggest setbacks, as Erwin Soleta recalls: “When we were looking for resources, some of the very useful ones, when we opened the files, were all written in Spanish. At least the team from Brazil knew a little Spanish so they probably understood the article, more or less. Our worry was that we might end up understanding it differently.”

PH FOR THE WIN

But true to the UP tradition, none of them backed down. Notwithstanding the disadvantages, the Philippine team did what they could and eventually won the title for their countrymen.

“To tell you honestly, our goal during the start of the competition was just to go to Spain. And then we reached the semi-finals and that’s when we realized that this was such a big deal because we’re representing not just the Philippines but also Asia, since we’re the only Asian country in the competition, so we really took it seriously,” says Katrina.

Benedict adds that what also really inspired and pushed them to work harder was the advice that they got from their dean, Dr. Aura Matias.

“She once told us that even if we come from a third world country university, that even if we’re not exactly the best in our class, just the fact that we come from the University of the Philippines already means that we’re probably one of the best in the country. And what this contest has shown us is that probably, if we work hard enough, we could be the best in the world,” Benedict says.

PAY IT FORWARD

Their exposure to Europe provided the members with insights about our own country and that it made them realize that the Philippines is really behind and that something must be done about this.

All of them agree that helping create a better future for this country is just a matter of starting with yourself, believing in what you can do, sharing your talents and your ideas, and paying it forward to others.

As Katrina points out, “It’s about believing in yourself and in your ideas. And once you start believing in your own capabilities, that’s the time you share it with people. Who knows, it might just make the huge difference that we’ve all been waiting for.”

Attachment Size
University of the Philippines students Erwin Solate, Katrina Volate, and Benedict Andrade prove that Filipinos can succeed in science and technology with their win in Indra Future Minds, a technologies-based international university competition.

More-latest speech technologies
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