Winning SG Challenge Idea Aims To Ease Congestion In Cities

The Global Young Scientists Summit 2013 came to a close today with the announcement of the SG Challenge and NRF fellowship winners.

AsianScientist (Jan. 25, 2013) – After five days of whirlwind activity, the Global Young Scientists Summit 2013 (GYSS@one-north) came to a close today with the announcement of the winners of the Singapore Challenge competition and the recipients of the prestigious National Research Foundation (NRF) fellowship.

Over the course of the week, 280 participants from all over the world listened to talks by 15 distinguished speakers. Dr. Sydney Brenner discussed how we could grow humans in a dish, while Prof. Dan Shechtman and Prof. Ada Yonath described how they failed for many years before they received recognition for their research. Panel discussions chaired by presidents of Singapore universities covered multidisciplinary research, new technologies, and the ups and downs in the life of a scientist.

The participants were whisked to the Istana – home to the President of the Republic of Singapore, Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam – and tourist destinations such as the Singapore Flyer, Night Safari, and the Singapore River.

There were also visits to universities and institutes across Singapore such as the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART).

In the grand finale of the Singapore Challenge competition, titled “Innovation for Future Cities,” ten finalists made five-minute presentations to a panel of judges on their solutions to challenges faced by global cities.

Xue-Gang Chen of Zhejiang University in China described the purification of waste water using novel porous magnetic nanocomposites and microwave-enhanced treatments, while Andreas Braun of the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research in Germany proposed a disaster management system which provides real-time feedback about the number of people in a building, the number of injured people, and even who could be saved first.

Fumiko Satoh of the IBM Research Tokyo in Japan described a system where the traffic flow of millions of cars could be simulated and integrated into a cloud-based data platform. The simulation data could be used to develop new policies that address traffic congestion.

Anselmo T. Cisneros and Nicolas Zweibaum from the University of California, Berkeley in the U.S. described an advanced nuclear power co-generation system based on fluoride salt cooled high-temperature reactors (FHR) to power carbon emission-free, energy-independent global cities.

But the winning idea came from Lynette Cheah of the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences at A*STAR Singapore. Her proposal of an adaptive transportation system was well received by the judging panel in light of the increasing congestion faced in Singapore, a city-state of 710 square kilometers (274 square miles) and 5.3 million people.

Cheah proposed a system that gathered information on the state of the transport grid, allowing taxis to converge on areas of peak demand, and buses and trains to change frequency whenever necessary. Commuters would be alerted to disruptions via an intelligent alert system, allowing them to change their route or find alternative modes of transport.

Dr. Lynette Cheah proposed the winning SG Challenge idea of adaptive transportation in cities.

The panel of judges – chaired by Prof. Liu Pao Chuen, advisor to the NRF – was a distinguished one. It was comprised of Prof. Aaron Ciechanover, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 2004; Prof. Michael Grätzel, Millennium Technology Prize, 2010; Prof. Anthony Leggett, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 2003; Dr. Malone-Lee, Director, Center for Sustainable Asian Cities; Mr. Ng Lang, CEO of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Singapore; and Mr. Choo Chiau Beng, CEO of Keppel Corporation.

The guest of honor at the closing ceremony was Singapore President Tony Tan, who awarded the SG Challenge prize to Lynette Cheah. She also received a US$100,000 cash prize and a medallion.

Permanent Secretary (Public Service Division), Ms. Yong Ying-I, presented awards to the 16 winners of this year’s National Research Foundation fellowship. The NRF Fellowship is offered annually to young scientists and researchers below 40 years of age, and provides research funding of up to S$3 million (US$2.4 million) and a tenure-track position at a local university or research organization.

The 2013 NRF Fellowship recipients at the GYSS@one-north award ceremony.


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