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Powering up young engineers
Billy Clarke
update on Saturday, June 25, 2011
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It's not everyday that one gets the chance to gain a scholarship and save the world at the same time, but that is exactly what Schneider Electric is offering some lucky talented students as part of their Energy Efficiency Cup competition which will take place on June 28.

Now in its third year, the competition has proven to be successful, with more than twice the applicants from last year. Since 2009, participants have increased three-fold.

Jointly run by supporting organisations and arranged by Schneider Electric, the event aims to provide a platform for university students to showcase their creativity and put their educational theory into practice through energy-saving proposals.

The participating teams - comprising groups of one to three university students - will go through a process of elimination until the final five teams battle it out and bring their proposals to life during a live demonstration next week in front of a panel of judges in Causeway Bay.

The participants are university students from Hong Kong and Macau majoring in different disciplines, including electrical, mechanical, building services and biomedical engineering. The research topics that students will submit proposals for include the effective use of new energy sources and intelligent system design.

"Through this contest, we aim to cultivate interest in energy management locally among young people and engage our next generation of engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs in developing innovative energy management solutions for a better future," says Tim To, president of Schneider Electric.

The company started as an armament specialist back in the 1800s, but soon diversified and left weaponry for the electrical industry. In the late 20th century, it grew into a leader in the industry, pioneering many innovations such as uninterrupted power supplies, movement control, voice data image, sensing technology and building automation. Nowadays, the company is a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries.

The company has established the "Energy Ambassador Training Programme" and the "Management Trainee Programme" which, together with the Schneider Energy Efficiency Cup, support outstanding students who demonstrate a strong passion and skill in energy management and electrical industries. One of them was Lao Keng-weng, from the University of Macau, who won the Schneider Electric Energy Efficiency Cup last year.

"It was a motivation for me to think in depth about the creative use of energy which can help save the planet as well as make life better for human beings," says Lao, whose winning project was a wind turbine battery charger designed to generate stable and efficient wind energy.

Other project highlights of 2010 included a green method of charging electric vehicles using photovoltaic panels and the sun, plus an iPhone application capable of controlling lighting and electrical systems in homes and offices.

This year, one interesting participant is Liu Chun-wa, a University of Hong Kong student, who has made it to the final top five with his efficient water-saving purification system based on low temperature distillation and heat pump technology.

"If I can develop this new technology more, then maybe it can be distributed to society where running costs are cheaper than the existing systems," he says.

As To adds: "Engaging youngsters to assist in resolving the energy crisis and contributing to environmental protection today can also help raise public awareness of energy efficiency."

 

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