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Innovation Technology Contest Highlights Student Ideas For Future

© Leesburg Today - 10/23/2015

At times during the first Loudoun County Public School Challenge at the National Conference Center on Thursday, it was hard to separate the innovative technology ideas of professionals from those of students.

While professionals took their turn explaining technology and application advancements in their field, Loudoun County students turned some professional heads with their technology ideas for the future.

""To come up to Loudoun and see kids at this age on that stage, I'm thinking to myself, 'What was I doing at that age?'"" Gov. Terry McAuliffe said. ""It's incredible what these students are doing.""

Students were invited to present ideas across a multitude of areas, such as safety and security, decision support systems, and 21st century classroom and curriculum advancements.

""The future is the people in this room today,"" McAuliffe told the students. ""Only be disappointed if you don't try something new. We are all in with technology. Think, be bold, and innovate.""

Stone Hill Middle School students Udbhav Muthakana and Sulaiman Ghori want public schools to utilize a facial recognition security system that would be a game-changer for security inside schools. They noted that the equivalent of 11 school days per year are wasted on taking attendance, touting software would detect a face a save it to a hard drive so it could recognize it later.

Derek Mamrol, Athreya Gundamraj, Raj Shrimali and Bharut Jain want to use radio frequencies to detect identification badges for students and staff inside the school. The system identify where students are located at all times and could help identify unauthorized intruders.

A similar idea from six students at Smart's Mill Middle School was to implement a Mobile Safety Robot at schools that has a bar code scanner to scan identification passes and has a weapon-detection capability. They think it can resemble Atheon, a robot that's used at several hospitals around the country.

Improving grading systems was an idea presented by a group of Academy of Science students. The system would integrate grading data and schoolwork so teachers wouldn't have to use gradebooks anymore.

The Tech Cadets from Monroe Technology Center want to create a system in which they help teachers and students repair computers and mobile devices, raising funds to help employ cyber coaches in elementary schools.

Staying inside the classroom, a Seneca Ridge Middle School tech class wants to introduce hydroponics-growing food without sunlight or soil-to classrooms countywide so students can experience farming with their own two hands.

With a college focus in mind, Stone Hill Middle School seventh graders Rithika Narravaula and Smera Sheik hope to create Naviance Navigation, which would tell students which colleges and class courses are the best fit for a student based on surveys taken and a review of social media profiles.

Federal Communications Commission Chief Information Officer David Bray talked to the students about how technology is ever-changing.

He noted that 2013 was the first time human beings equaled the number of global network devices (7 billion) in the world. With an average of 204 million emails, 4 million Google searches, 2.46 million Facebook content, and 400 hours worth of content uploaded to YouTube happening every minute, technology is at the forefront at delivering information.

Bray said that in the future, students should be ready for machine learning.

""Humans will be paired with machine-learning assistants and will be able to work intelligently with people,"" Bray said.

Some of the advanced technology already exists in some professional areas, such as Leesburg-based Omnilert, which presented a program that sends texts, calls home phones, and monitors a live video feed of schools under crisis. Patrocinium Systems LLC presented a project called Arc Angel, which has the ability to track users within a range of an incident and can send text messages to those in the area.

Haystax also presented a program that can track threats made on social media and sends incident alerts so schools can manage critical safety information.

McAuliffe said he hopes to make Virginia the cyber, data, and human genome sequencing capital of the world going forward.

""The key to it is we have to have a workforce,"" McAuliffe said. ""We have to rethink how we do our education system. Testing systems like SOLs aren't good since they memorize the information and forget everything a week later. We want the students to think cognitively and creatively. … There's no reason why Virginia can't become the next Silicon Valley.""

The industry winners for the event were Omnilert with its ""e2Campus Scenarios"" presentation and Haystax' ""LCPS Integrated Situational Awareness Solution"" presentation.

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