***Article provided by the VFS McGill Student Chapter***
After a grueling weekend of engineering and design featuring 51 students from more than 10 different majors, 4 external supporting organizations, and 6 McGill organizing clubs, VFS McGill’s Agri-Drones Case Competition event came to an epic conclusion in the Final Ceremony where 3 teams were crowned winners. The McGill Chapter of VFS worked hard throughout the semester to organize an engaging Case Competition and to bring some collaboration to this long semester and year. A number of external organizations offered generous support including Bell Helicopter, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Deloitte and other McGill student run clubs.
The VFS Case competition marks the first cross-chapter competition organized by the McGill chapter, three years after its founding. Given the exceptional interest, there may be an opportunity for an annual event. The competition was organized around a 5-day challenge that ran from November 5th to November 9th, 2020. A week later participants reconvened virtually for the Final Ceremony taking place on November 16th. 91 McGill students initially registered for the competition, and after a competitive screening process, 51 students advanced into the competition and formed teams of four members.
The Case competition’s brief was for teams to develop a drone system that would help to improve agricultural yields in east and central African countries burdened by food insecurity. The solutions needed to consider a host of unique constraints, such as taking into account each regions’ weather patterns and the presence of pests. Teams were expected to also innovate a blockchain-related component to complement their drone system solution. Teams also had the opportunity to brush up their drone basics and learn a bit more about blockchain. All participants were supported through side-workshops convened by McGill student club leaders on topics like video-making. Responding to the clear and present constraints posed by COVID-19, the competition was held completely virtually – participants joined from studio apartments, home offices, and couches all over the world.
The 13 teams presented their ideas to the judges on Day 5 through remote video presentations. Despite the digitalization of the competition, all the participants did a great job and had very creative solutions to the problem at-hand. The prizes ranged from $500 for the 1st place, $300 for the 2nd place, and $200 for the 3rd place. In addition, during the Final Ceremony, the winning teams had the opportunity to chat with key spokespeople of the industry, including Jim Sherman, the Director of Strategic Development of VFS, Betty Chen, an Academic Coordinator of VFS, and Chantal Boucher, the President of the Montreal-Ottawa Chapter of VFS.
After an intense weekend of work, the teams on the final podium were revealed during the final ceremony:
- 1st place Team 12 Sunbird,:
- Georgiy Danylenko
- Umut Guven
- Benoit Brognaux
- Evelyn Zhang
- 2nd place Team 13 ROI, :
- Torean Vance
- Saman Gholami
- Ari Kaufman
- 3rd place Team 3 NANS,:
- Alexander Kuijper Dickson
- Nogieru Eghobamien
- Nour Berrayana
- Shimon Takagi
The winning team’s design included an interesting 2-drone solution using, first, a fixed wing drone for analyzing and scanning farm parcels and, second, a quadcopter for spraying the field. They also provisioned an innovative bug dispenser attachable to the secondary drone that will be used against pests to bolster the sustainability and eco-responsibility of the farm and crops raised by the local farmers.
We would like to congratulate all of the teams who participated. We saw amazing work and want to thank all those who engaged themselves in the competition, taking time out of their schedules despite the global pandemic affecting each and every one of us.