Blog Post

Duke STEAM Challenge Winners Announced!

After a weekend Pitch event held last weekend at the Duke Nasher Museum, the Duke STEAM Challenge winners were chosen by an all-star team of judges. I had the opportunity to work briefly with three of the STEAM teams the weekend before. To my great delight, one of the STEAM teams I mentored won first prize and another of the teams I mentored won third! I am a gushingly proud mentor to have helped (even if ever so slightly) two of the three top prize winners. I'm so proud of my teams and so impressed by the Duke STEAM Challenge team and the STEAM Duke guru Cathy Davidson. Nota bene: the winning teams are 1) using "artistic tools (like cartoons and puppetry) to educate adolescent girls of Terai, Bihar in India about Oral Rehydration Therapy" and 2) "accelerat[ing] the electrification and global inclusion of isolated communities in rural Uganda." And, <ahem> these are undergrads. See more information below (thanks to Duke STEAM's Kristan Shawgo for the write up). Wow Duke!

The Duke STEAM Challenge winners are:

Grand Prize ($10,000): Ambassadors for Change:ORS

Team members: Saffana Humaira, Suhani Jalota, Rebecca Lai and Kehaan Manjee

Our goal is to increase usage of Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) to treat diarrhea. We want to use artistic tools (like cartoons and puppetry) to educate adolescent girls of Terai, Bihar in India about ORT. We also want to facilitate effective communication between health care workers and the local communities by developing an SMS application. We will bridge STEM and the creative arts to bring social change.


Second Place ($3,000): BrushSTROKE

Team members: Diego Farias, Zack Fowler, Madelaine Katz, Rifat Rahman and Thomas Vosburgh

BrushSTROKE is an initiative that uniquely combines art therapy and health education in order to both help young stroke victims express the complex emotions associated with surviving stroke at such a young age and raise community awareness about the increasing prevalence of young stroke. By taking an artistic approach to a problem generally associated with epidemiology and public policy, this project bridges two distinct disciplines, creating a unique solution to an important problem.


Third Place ($2,000): S.U.N.scaping

Team members: Julian Borrey, Oluwatobi Runsewe and Lydia Thurman

S.U.N.scaping aims to accelerate the electrification and global inclusion of isolated communities in rural Uganda.  This project is centered on a multi-lingual manual designed to teach concrete skills alongside the underlying concepts of solar technology to enable technology exchange and ensure program sustainability.  Ultimately, this economically-sustainable system of solar electrification will be applied to provide Internet access where previously unavailable.


Honorable Mention ($500): Doppler Operated-Remotely Effected-Musical Interface (DO-RE-MI)

Team members: Gregory Canal, Julian (Ian) Couture and Aaron Krolik

DO-RE-MI explores new ways for translating movement into sound by mapping Doppler radar frequency shifts into musical phrases.  In doing so, we will create new opportunities for artistic expression, STEAM education and target classification. Consisting of a Duke-developed indoor Wi-Fi radar, a PC, and speakers, the DO-RE-MI system could be an interactive museum exhibit or the centerpiece of a dance performance choreographed to create, rather than follow, music. Furthermore, signal processing insights gained through the development of DO-RE-MI could one day improve methods in non-cooperative radar target classification.


We would also like to acknowledge the incredible work of the Duke STEAM Challenge Finalists.


Mantis Headturner

Team members: William Floyd-Jones, Kasper Kubica and Sanford Morton

Mantis Headturner is a 4-beam moving head light system designed for local DJs and small venues.  Uniquely catering to the community event market, the Headturner is the only light that brings together high-end effects and full control (via phone application) in a low price and portable product.  It’s a powerful and technically advanced system for the musical artist who’s ready to become an artist with light.

Music in a Different Light

Team members: Stephanie Engle, Connor Hahn, Emily Kuhn and Madison Spahn

In an age defined by communication, music is a language that crosses cultures; those who cannot hear or understand it risk missing out on a core human experience. Music in a Different Light allows these people to access this experience by providing an alternate means to appreciate music: visually. The project entails transforming the sounds of Duke a Capella group Lady Blue into lightwaves, which will be superimposed onto a stylized video of the group to be distributed to the community at large.

Tomorrow’s HERitage

Team members: Cheryl Spinner and Jennifer Stratton

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that women represent a mere 24% of the STEM workforce; concurrently, the Celluloid Ceiling reported in 2012 that women comprised only 9% of all directors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films and East London Fawcett’s (ELF) art audit also found that not a single woman appeared on the top 100 art auction performance lists in 2012.  The Tomorrow’s HERitage project seeks to tackle the underrepresentation of women in the art and science fields head-on by creating an interactive exhibition of their work as a platform for lively discussions, community exchange, and experimental modes of presentation.

Touching Math

Team members: Gautam Hathi, Morgan Irons and Joy Patel

Touching Math aims to bring out hidden math and science potential in students by using 3D printing to make 3D visualization accessible. Topics in calculus, geometry, physics, chemistry, or biology which involved three dimensional concepts are normally hard for students to deal with, but a curriculum built around engaging and aesthetically interesting models would be able to spark students’ interest. The project combines math, science, education, design, and the visual arts.


You can read more about the Duke STEAM Challenge winners and final event on our blog

And, check out the write up of our event and winners on Duke Today.


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