Portuguese Team wins International Competition for Android Application Developers

 

Greenspark team 

The GreenSpark team, which involves a Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program master student, won the student category of the Ericsson Application Awards 2013, an international competition for Android application developers. The application created by the team helps to manage solar panels, making their use simple and more cost-effective. The jury of the competition considered that the team "presented a solution based on energy efficiency, with a truly global reach."

The team includes Joel Rodrigues, a post-graduation student in Human Aspects of Technology at the Universidade da Madeira, and Poan Shen, a student in the dual degree Masters Program on Entertainment Technology, of the Universidade da Madeira and Carnegie Mellon University, as part of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program. Both students are affiliated with the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI), which was created in the scope of the CMU Portugal Program in 2009.

For Nuno Nunes, founder and president of the M-ITI, this is "a good example of the spillovers of the interdisciplinary International Programs and the consequence of attracting high quality international students.” In his opinion “they 'push’ the local students even when they are not enrolled in the dual-degree programs,” adding “they give them access to high quality interdisciplinary education that will never be possible in the traditional academic Portuguese system.”

At the Award Ceremony, which took place at Ericsson’s Headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 22, 2013, the GreenSpark team showcased its app “Sun Monitor” before a jury of experts. The jury's justification for choosing GreenSpark application was that “the team has focused on the performance of solar cells at a time when energy consumption and efficiency is increasingly in focus, and has produced an app with obvious benefits to users and all stakeholders in the energy business”, according to a press release by Ericsson.

The students could not be more pleased. Participating in the competition was “an amazing experience that allowed me to grow, to learn many things, and it definitely taught me to look at the world from a completely new perspective,” stressed Joel Rodrigues. Winning the prize “is a great motivation to keep us moving forward,” added Poan Shen.

It was the second time that the team participated in the competition, and due to their first experience they were able to avoid some mistakes this time. “I knew that a good project cannot just rely on technology, and that we should also present our concepts well enough so that the jury and the users can understand and appreciate our work,” stated Poan Shen. According to the student, studying Entertainment Technology has also inspired the application development. “As a MET student I knew that our application should engage its users with a user-friendly interface,” he said. Poan Shen also learned that the video must be both informative and interesting. “While at the M-ITI, I learned how to see technology differently, something that helped my teammate and I to design and define the scope of the project,” the student stressed.

Both students have different ideas on how invest the 25k award. Poan Shen would like “to use the money to improve the application and also to prepare its deployment in Taiwan,” and Joel Rodrigues will use the money to pursue his studies in Human Computer Interaction.

The Sun Monitor, developed by the GreenSpark team, is a service provided via cloud computing, a customized device and a web application that manages household solar power systems in an energy/cost effective way and greatly reduces exposure to networking threats. The solution created by the students has already been successfully tested in a prototype installed in Taiwan. The next step will be to improve the application and deploy the solution to more systems in that island.

The Ericsson Application Awards is an international competition for Android application developers. This was the fourth consecutive year that the competition was held and this year’s theme was Apps for City Life. Almost 200 teams from 52 countries competed in the student and company categories. The winner in the company category was Therapy Box from the United Kingdom.

May 2013