Microsoft Academia Accelerator Program Fosters Digital Transformation for Environmental Good

By SiliconIndia  |   Wednesday, 06 February 2019, 06:19 Hrs
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Microsoft Academia Accelerator Program Fosters Digital Transformation for Environmental Good

Tapping technology the right way has always been the need of the hour. Exploring the unexplored, Microsoft India hosts AXLE, a Microsoft Academia Accelerator program for students to showcase their innovative disaster management solutions based on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Mixed Reality and Natural Language Processing. Themed as AI for Good, the Microsoft and Academia collaboration takes a step ahead by using technology for solving real world challenges. Computer Science faculty, Microsoft leaders & employees and several industry influencers marked their attendance to witness students’ (hailing from top Indian engineering colleges) state of the art technological innovations, envisioned to predict/manage natural disasters better. Post tough competition and rigorous endeavors, 21 finalist teams showcased their solutions at the new Microsoft Campus in Bengaluru.

Believing that AI has huge potential of edifying richer, cleaner and healthier societies, Microsoft commenced Academia Accelerator program as one of its most comprehensive campus engagement programs, aiming to build long-term association between industry and academia. Unabridged mentor support, publishing support and pitch support provided students the opportunity to bring out best ideas, execute their potential and hone their CS skills for future endeavours. Envisioning innovative tech developments for catastrophe and disaster better management and relief material delivery, Codefundo++ National Challenge under Academia Accelerator was themed – build state of the art technology to predict or manage natural disasters better. Topics such AI for Earth: Solutions for Global Environmental Challenges, Health Data Collaborative Enabling AI Network and AI on the Edge and for the Edge to Design Smarter Cities also created buzz during the keynote sessions.

The Ace Accelerator

“AI for Good is Microsoft’s global program aimed to look at power of AI as a technology and see how it can be used for saving the planet. Climate changes, biodiversity degradation, decreasing agricultural production and natural disasters – are all at a scale and magnitude where technology dimension is needed. Looking at AI for Good as an umbrella, we picked the theme natural disaster. Students, the millennial generation, have very strong social commitment towards it and believed that they could make an impact from a societal perspective. So it all fitted in," avers Chitra Sood, Director Business Management, Microsoft India (R&D), in an exclusive conversation with siliconindia.

Taking in consideration the increased inclination of millennials towards digitization, Microsoft Academia Accelerator program initiated online format for mentor interaction and judgmentl. The platform witnessed 350 projects submissions, amongst which 21 innovations made their way to finals by leveraging spectrum of technologies. Each solution was unique yet important as they covered wide scale of disaster operations including relief management, register matching, rescue operations, mass search and many more. “We have given them right infrastructure and impetus to take their idea forward, opportunity for fine tuning their solutions and eventually setting them on a journey. We wanted to introduce them with what technology can do and how they can convert the learning into solving real-time problems,” adds Chitra.

Champion of the Champions

IIT Madras (Ayush Maniar, Rajat Singhal & Pranav Pawar) climbed the winner’s pedestal by showcasing their project – UAVs for Disaster Management. While IIT Guwahati’s (Venkata Naga Pavan Kumar Ravi, Ekagra Ranjan & Vivek Raj) DUBG project made the team first runner-up, the second runner up position was grabbed by IIT Jodhpur (Anshul Ahuja, Aksh Chordia & Ayush Saxena) with stellar exhibition of Disaster Chain project.

As a concluding note, Chitra explicates, “The program in itself establishes deep relationships with the college. One of the very strong pillars of the program is the faculty connect. Building rapport with faculty, who actively encourage students to participate, enables the program to happen and be a success. With programs like Academia Accelerator, Microsoft is democratizing technology so that it has its reach to vast majority of people for their own good. We call it – Amplifying Human Ingenuity”.

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