- Success stories - Helsinki 1996
prize: A Car Ice-detection System Based on Electromagnetic
Waves. ISEF prize to Louisville (Kentucky).
He had a great time with George Albanis (George Albanis -
Despina Scholidou. Third prize and ISEF prize in Helsinki
1996: "Boundaries and stellar content of the LH52 and LH53
associations" - Greece) in Louisville. They stayed in touch
for a long while. He also stayed in contact with Hanna Bengtsson
(Hanna Bengtson - Karin Larsson, in Helsinki 1996: "Biological
Method to Determina Nutrients in Different Soils - Sweden),
from Sweden, who spent a year in Australia just after the
Contest and later on returned to Sweden in order to continue
meet his fellow German contestant, Andreas Derr (Andreas Derr.
Third prize in Helsinki 1996: "MediNet: an intelligent system
for medical diagnosis"-Germany), a few times every year: "he
lives in the same city as my parents".
his project on "A Car Ice-Detection System", he confesses
that he made various efforts to get the project to be applied
in industry: "however, it is a long and enduring way". Daimler-Benz
are very interested in its implementation, and Tobias obtained
a joint patent with the company. Last summer he tried again
with a small company and "they are currently developing a
prototype", although there are some technological problems,
i. e. cheap and reliable conventional components must be used
to make it cost-wise.
Institute of Technology. He has been a graduate student at
Caltech (Pasadena - USA) in the field of Applied Physics since
August. The application process seemed to be endless but is
paying off. He assures that "graduate life here at Caltech
is pretty intense at the moment, but exciting as well!" The
coursework is overwhelming but, on the other hand, professors
are not very strict regarding grades. Once his coursework
is finished, he will start to research properly. He believes
he will be ready by next summer. Tobias obtained a financial
aid from Caltech, which provides for his tuition and small
like to have a general meeting of the EU Contest participants,
because he would love to see some of them again.
The Contest was undoubtedly "a great help to get to Caltech"
since the Californian Institute gives admission on a highly
competitive basis. Tobias is sure that "participation in the
EU Contest was strongly recognised by the admission committee
as something that was very special. I have no doubt that it
was a major contribution to my admission". Besides, the Contest
gave him "self-confidence to apply for Caltech and to address
its professors and ask for some interviews with them".
Prize and Nobel Prize Ceremony Travel Award for his project
titled: "Locator: A Self-positioning Robot". His machine was
able to determine its own initial position in space and navigate
itself to any destination, based on commands from a TV or
VCR remote controller. It combined sophisticated computer
programming, signal generation, sensing and analysis, and
a mobile wireless robot into an integrated system. The simplicity
of the design of the robot means that it can be easily adapted
to function in a factory environment, as a wheelchair or even
a fire fighter.
very clearly "the delicious and exclusive dinners, the warm
welcome in the Eureka museum of Technology, which really was
exactly the right place for such a Contest". Although they
were competing against each other, he reckons that there was
a deeper admiration for each other's impressive and high quality
projects. The interviews with the Jury were "profound" and
he reckons they did "a very good job".
About his project, he explains that "it was equipped with
a positioning system that measured the angles between incident
light beams, coming from infrared beacons, in order to determine
the position. The biggest disadvantages were its low mechanical
endurance and its slow operation, both due to the rotating
light sensor that was needed for the detection of light beams.
I have now replaced this positioning system with a new one
that is based on ultrasonic sound waves. This speeds up the
measurements about 40 times and contains no moving parts at
math formulas are a bit more complex, but that is no problem.
Four ultrasonic beacons at some well-known positions (e.g.
the corners of the field) are sequentially transmitting unique
codes, synchronised with each other, which are then received
by the ultrasonic sensor of a robot.
By comparing the time-differences between received codes with
the known differences at the transmitters, the relative distances
to the beacons can be easily determined. The position of the
robot is the intersection point of two hyperbolas, defined
by these calculated relative distances. There were a few tricky
problems to be tackled, though: reflections of the sound waves
and the so-called Fresnell-effect, being the latter a disturbing
interference of waves very close to a transmitter, thereby
making the transmitted signals useless. Besides, the batteries
can be recharged now with a wireless and magnetic field. The
contacts of the charging device got dirty very soon, so I
had to find another solution" In general, in the past four
years he has been working mainly on two concepts: the learning
capabilities of the robot and signal recognition.
currently studying Electrical Engineering at Delft University
of Technology (the Netherlands): "I started in September 1996,
after the EU Contest for Young Scientists in Helsinki, and
I'll be graduating for my Masters degree by the end of June
2000". Wouter is currently working on an extensive graduation
project with many mobile robots. This is an improved version
of the project he presented to the EU Contest: "It is a large
chessboard, measuring 3x3 metres. 32 mobile robots, being
a modified version of my Locator robot, serve as chess pieces.
The main purpose of the project resides in the investigation
of decentralised decisions: the robots will have to discuss
their local situations with others, therefore to decide which
robot will be moving. The robots won't have a global view
of the situation, so they will have to share information with
each other to estimate that global situation. Finally, the
chess strategy is based on a new genetic algorithm, which
allows the system to learn from its errors and to get stronger
every day. In my view, these three ingredients: autonomy,
decentralised decisions/sharing of information, and automated
learning will become very important in the near future".
from this, he has been working in his spare time as a freelance
designer of micro-electronic circuits, as well as programming
embedded software. He has also founded "an international organisation"
alongside with another PhD student: Europe-X. The aim being
"to advice governments on all kinds of educational topics".
They are more than 100 students from European and non-European
countries and they have already written two extensive reports
and held a 3-days Forum meeting in Frankfurt and two surveys.
Wouter assures that: "we are now trying to make our organisation
known, to spread out our reports, and to elicit serious discussions
that "it was the best contest I have ever participated in,
and it really stimulated me to continue with my projects".
The EU Contest "sort of proofed my capabilities as a future
software and hardware engineer in an international framework.
After the contest it was really clear for me that I had to
continue in this direction, to improve my robot, to do many
other interesting projects, and to think not only as a Dutch
citizen, but also as a European one. The prize I won at the
EU Contest gave me the financial possibilities to buy the
necessary tools and components to realise this dream, to work
out the concepts and to find some completely new and possibly
a Third Prize and the ISEF travel award to Louisville (Kentucky)
at Helsinki 1996. He presented a project alongside with Despina
Scholidou, whose title was "Boundaries and Stellar Content
of the LH52 and LH53 Associations".
was later improved by utilising more sophisticated techniques
and software packages. The original research tackled star
counts, and the results of the additions will "make sure that
the outcome of the spectroscopic analysis and the star counts
were right. Apart from that, I searched for more information
about the Large Magellanic Cloud on the Internet". The Large
Magellanic Cloud, or LMC, is the nearest galaxy to the Milky
Way but less than one tenth as massive.
memories come back whenever Helsinki is mentioned to him:
"some of the funniest moments happened during those informal
gatherings organised in our hotel rooms at night. Even though
we were all exhausted after a busy day, we would all be in
the mood for dancing, singing, and chattering. I miss my conversations
with Aida Omerovic, from Norway, and with the members of the
Irish team" (Patricia Lyne - Rowena Mooney - Elsie O'Sullivan:
"Analysys of Indigenous Irish Strains of the Honeybee" (IRL).
Third Prize at Helsinki 1996 and ISEF Travel Award to Louisville,
is currently studying electrical engineering and computer
hardware at the National Technical University of Athens. He
intends to specialise in the field of telecommunications,
and he has already applied for a CERN's (European Organisation
for Nuclear Research) summer programme dealing with accelerator
theory, beam dynamics, and hardware.
the experience of participating in the EU Contest as "a springboard
for me to pursue a scientific career. It made me understand
that I could not be happy and satisfied with my life unless
I worked on scientific and technological projects". He therefore
realised the value of creative teamwork all over the European
Union and beyond and, according to him "this is the only way
to drive forward European science and technology in the near
future". He believes that the EU Contest for Young Scientists
makes every participant realise that, above all, "we are Europeans.
Which is something to be proud of -as one of my Irish friends'
mother used to say-. We should all try to do our best in order
to achieve technological progress in Europe".
Prize at Helsinki 1996 for his project on a "Braille Display".
He remembers well that "a group of children from a kindergarten
or primary school came to visit our exhibition and literally
invaded the exhibition hall in a matter of minutes. I was
a bit worried then because I thought I would not be able to
explain my project to them. I assumed they could not speak
English, therefore I decided that the best thing I could do
was to explain my project to their adult escorts and show
them round my models, pictures and video.
However, it did not happen this way. To my surprise, the little
kids eagerly gathered at my exhibit and began asking numerous
questions, and all in English!
the EU Contest, he started his degree at the Technical University
of Budapest. He has recently founded his own company, related
to the Internet and web sites design. He is in charge of producing
the web pages of the Hungarian Association for Innovation,
which is the institution that runs the National Competitions
that give access to the EU Contest for Young Scientists.
other fields, Laslo's company deals with both the technical
and the marketing aspects of computer and security system