The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge Selects MSJ Students as Finalists

 By Staff Writers Michael Ren & Richard Chenyu Zhou

Sophomore Jonathan Ko and Junior Carolyn Ge were selected to be Summit Diplomats in the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge, a competition focused on designing innovative products for the future. Their submission of Videre, a refrigerator camera that helps users waste less energy, qualified them for the competition’s Innovation Summit in April, where top teams from around the world will compete against each other.

The Challenge is divided into four categories: Aerospace and Aviation, Cyber-technology and Security, Energy and Environment, and Health and Nutrition. Team Novus’ submission, Videre, was aimed at reducing energy wasted from refrigerator usage. Instead of opening the refrigerator and allowing cold air to escape, Videre uses a camera mounted inside the refrigerator to allow users to locate items before opening the door. In addition, an accompanying mobile application displays the amount of energy saved using Videre.

This year marks the third consecutive year that Ge and Ko are competing together in the Challenge. The pair also qualified for the Summit in both previous years, and used their previous experience to help them figure out their plan for this year. “It helped to know what we did in the past and how that worked out for us so we just followed the same thing this year,” said Ge.

Despite their solid background, this year’s competition still came with its own unique set of challenges. This year, a greater focus was placed on the business and marketing aspect of innovative design. Products not only had to be creative, but also had to appeal to consumers. “This year, they changed the competition structure from last time, they added a lot of different business elements so now instead of having to think about design specifications of your product and the science, we also had to think about market research, doing the math, the current climate of European refrigerator markets and stuff like that,” said Ko. While the changes added some unexpected difficulty to the competition, it also aided the team because of Ko’s prior experience in business. “I do think we learned a lot from it and I’m really proud of what we were able to put together,” said Ko.

Team Novus is still undecided on whether or not they will attend this year’s Summit because of conflicts with school and other projects. “If we do attend, we’re going to try to put together as best a pitch as possible,” said Ge. However, Team Novus is still planning on competing next year and hopefully qualifying for the Summit again. “I definitely hope to continue doing the Conrad Challenge in the future … it’s opened a lot of doors for me and really made me consider careers I’ve never considered before,” said Ko.

Graphic Courtesy Jonathan Ko

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