Canadian Humanitarian Initiatives Committee

collaborative technology addressing humanitarian needs


Student Design Competition Announcement, 2010-2011

We are proud to welcome Canadian students to first HIC humanitarian student design competition. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a Canadian college or university. Basic knowledge in Electronics is desirable and recommended but not required to participate, but knowledge of power electronics or medical equipment will be an asset.

The spirit of this competition is to provide a venue for students to gain practical experience in improving or innovating on an existing design under some of the constrains and conditions they will face in industry. An abstract of the winner’s work will be published in one of the IEEE publications. Prizes will be awarded as follows: first prize, CND $1000; second prize, CND $700; third prize, CND $300.

Theme of Competition

For this year’s competition, we have decided to focus on improving or innovating on parts of the WE CARE Solar‘s system. Students interested in participating in a more general humanitarian topic are encouraged to participate in IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Competition, the HIC will assist students participating on that competition.

We are very excited to partner with WE CARE solar; they have agreed to make the details of their “solar suitcase” platform available to us as Open (Source) Hardware and thus jointly improve access to electricity for the poorest in the world. WE CARE’s solar suitcase is a portable solar electric system that fits in a suitcase; it powers two overhead LED lighting, charges walkie-talkies and cell phones, and includes LED headlamps that come with their own rechargeable batteries. Participants will be asked to study this system and to propose ideas that will improve it, extend it or innovate it. WE CARE Solar promotes safe motherhood and reduces maternal mortality in developing regions by providing health workers with reliable lighting, mobile communication, and blood bank refrigeration using solar electricity. You are invited to watch the following 45 minute presentation where Dr. Laura Stachel describes her mission and system in detail.

See also Solar Suitcase Sheds Light on Sunset Surgeries in Africa.

How does it work?

The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a Canadian college or university. It brings together Canadian students and their mentors to the dynamic field of technology for development. Each team must have a mentor from the institution they are enrolled in, and in some cases they may chose a mentor from industry. For a team to be eligible for the competition, the team must be led by an IEEE student member who is in good standing at the time of final project submission. Teams may include students who are not IEEE members and we encourage teams to include students that are enrolled in different disciplines. The students are responsible for all of the R&D activities and the creation of the working model or prototype. Design projects will be judged on their innovation, quality of final report, completeness, practicality and complexity; the most important factors being innovation and practicality. Teams with graduate students will have their score handicapped to make it fair for undergrad student. Points will be awarded to teams showing their designs running in WE CARE‘s system at CCECE.

All projects from participants shall follow an Open Source approach, and design are expected to become part of the Open Source platform in this competition.

Where can I find out more?

You can join our virtual community to read reference documents and to share ideas and opinions; or visit the Frequently Asked Questions webpage for more details. The competition’s timeline is as follows:

Proposal submission deadline: January 14, 2011
Acceptance notification: January 21, 2011
Detailed progress report submission: February 18, 2011
Semi-finalist selection announcement: February 25, 2011
Final detailed report submission: April 1, 2011
Finalist selection announcement: April 8, 2011
Winners announcement: May, 2011 at CCECE

Please see the competition’s FAQ page for more details. Or consult the following document:

How do I start?

Email us:

How can I financially support this competition?

The IEEE Canadian Foundation will be accepting cash donations for the competition. There are three ways to donate:

  • On-line by using a secure website specially operated to enable online giving for Canadian charitable organizations
  • By mail by sending a cheque directly to the treasurer, Luc Matteau, at:
    IEEE Canadian Foundation,
    456 Rogers Street,
    Peterborough, Ontario
    K9H 1W9
  • By phone by speaking with the treasurer, Luc Matteau, at 705-743-7712.

Please direct your gift to the “Technology for Humanity Fund”.

Creative Commons Licence
IEEE Canada Student Humanitarian Design Competition by Alfredo Herrera is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.