Last Friday, Aggies Invent opened its doors to 56 students. Unlike previous versions of the event, this one was sponsored directly by Dell, which gave every member of the winning team a high-end Dell workstation.
According to Rodney Boehm, director of engineering entrepreneurship and associate professor of practice, Aggies Invent has been a regular event since the summer of 2014.
“It’s an intensive design experience over 48 hours where we gather anywhere from 40 to 70 students together, freshmen through Ph.D. candidates, and we concentrate on solving, designing and selling a solution to a problem that’s been proposed to us by one of our partners,” Boehm said.
The winning team was Team Shovel, which consisted of Mike Choi and Ayaz Abdullah, both computer engineering juniors, and Muin Momin, computer science junior.
“We’re so excited,” Momin said. “We’re sleep-deprived and got homework to do, but it feels good.”
Team Shovel’s project dealt with the detection and real-time transmission to an augmented reality headset of the locations of underground pipelines. Choi said the team would like to continue the work outside the confines of the competition.
“With enough support from the school, maybe, I think we can continue on,” Choi said. “It looks very promising.”
The second place team was Team Aku, whose members included Craig Medlin, Waylon Lee, Tanner Hunt, Chris Garza, Elizabeth Bik and Kamal Khraisheh. Third place was awarded to ARchitecture, which included Patrick Sandoval, Allison Kornher, Maximiliano Lopez, Morgan Boudier and David Miler.
According to Boehm, there was a difference this year in that the sponsors were much more involved with the whole process.
“This one is kind of a unique one in that we have Dell bringing all the technology and all their partners, and Accenture is here, so you have both Accenture and Dell, you’ve got the strategy and technology side working together,” Boehm said.
According to Boehm, Dell offered to change the winning prize from the usual $1,000 for the team to giving each member of the winning team a Dell laptop workstation.
Dell also provided the need statement, or theme for the event, which was Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), requiring that every team’s final project be presented in AR or VR.
“The companies now provide us the need statements,” Boehm said. “The reason we do that is because we want students to work on real life problems, not something that is just made up in an environment.”
The students split themselves into teams of varying sizes. One of these groups, Team Dash, worked on an AR application that would make jogging a more exciting form of exercise, according to Logan Havern, industrial engineering junior.
“We are trying to improve healthy lifestyle, motivate fitness and wellness, and we’re doing that by creating an augmented reality application that will encourage people who don’t run a lot to start exercising and get out there because we’re going to create a fun environment where this can happen,” Havern said.
Team Aku developed a way to view cars at dealerships using VR, according to Chris Garza, computer engineering junior.
“Our need is to show how VR can help potential buyers buy vehicles in the future,” Chris said.
Also attending this year’s competition was Meta, a group dedicated to using AR to make technology more accessible.
“We want to make sure everyone can use technology,” David Gene Oh, head of developer relations at Meta said. “Why is it only excluded to people that can write code and have a certain education?”
Meta’s AR headset, according to Oh, offers a wide-field AR display that allows the user to see augmented reality with a far wider range of view than other similar headsets. Oh also said that the unique hand recognition system built into the headset allows the user’s hand gestures to control virtual elements in real time, so users can manipulate objects without the burden of hand-held remotes or buttons.