The Blues go Green
Ida Anita Q. Del Mundo (The Philippine Star) - September 8, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Ateneans Alyssa Tricia Eloise Vintola and Lorenz Ray Payonga recently won Schneider Electric’s 3rd Go Green in the City competition, besting students from around the world with their project, the Oscillohump.

Both 5th year BS Electronics and Communications Engineering majors at the Ateneo de Manila University, Vintola and Payonga represented the country in the international competition where participants presented case studies on viable energy management solutions for various urban sectors.

Their project, the Oscillohump, is a mechanism that can be installed in road humps. When a vehicle passes over it, the mechanism is pushed down and generates power through electromagnetic induction, Payonga explains.

Demonstrating the process on their prototype, Vintola simulated 24 vehicles passing the hump, generating five volts, which enabled them to power up a small desk lamp. In the large-scale version, the Oscillohump will be able to generate electricity to power street lamps, traffic lights or CCTV cameras. Excess energy may be fed into the power grid, the two explain.

Payonga shares how he came up with the simple yet innovative idea: “I was walking around the campus around 10 in the evening when I saw a taxi drive over a speed hump... That was the eureka moment!”

He adds, “At that time we had three ideas, but the Oscillohump was the most outrageous of the three.” Payonga immediately contacted Vintola and the two got to work. A few days later, they presented three project ideas to their professor, Reese Macabebe, who advised them to run with the Oscillohump.

“Continuous research and consultations led us to this,” says Vintola. The two students also received mentoring from Schneider’s Homer Ilagan as they prepared for the international competition.

As they worked on the project, Payonga and Vintola report that they encountered very few problems. “Problems were very minor because the concept that we used, electromagnetic induction, has been tried and tested since the 1800s,” says Payonga.

Vintola admits there were a few times when they had doubts whether the idea would actually work, “But Ma’am Reese said, ‘trust me, it will work’.”

Payonga says, “The department was also there to support us in developing this prototype, so any minor problem that we encountered, there was always a solution to it, and Schneider electric was very generous also to subsidize the expenses for the prototype materials.”

The first hurdle that the two had to overcome was the East Asian regional leg held last May in Jakarta. “We were expecting to be up against seven other teams because we thought that each of the eight countries in the East Asian leg would send one team,” says Vintola. However, once they arrived, they were surprised to learn that there were 14 teams in competition. “Along with Thailand, we were the only other country to send only one team,” she shares.

Out of the 14, the Philippine team presented next to last. “It was a long day for us,” says Payonga.

The panel for the East Asian leg was composed of representatives from Schneider, as well as some external judges. “It was a big audience, since all the participants were allowed to watch the presentations,” Vintola says.

Most of the teams proposed energy management solutions in terms of creating greener buildings, says Vintola. There were also proposals for a smart control for air conditioning in a larger theater and a way to harness solar energy to power a green clinic.

Vintola and Payonga also enjoyed bonding with the other participants, learning about different cultures, forming friendships, and exchanging ideas. “They were very interested in our idea and were very supportive when we won,” says Vintola.

Moving on to the international finals held in Paris last June, the Philippine team held its own against 50 student finalists from Canada, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, France, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Aside from presenting their idea before the board of judges, the students also participated in leadership workshops and focus group discussions, and a tour of the Schneider plant.

During the judging, one of the memorable questions one of the judges asked was “Why hasn’t someone else thought of this before?”

“People keep on thinking of very complicated ways to solve a problem. Sometimes people miss out on some very simple things just waiting to be discovered,” says Payonga, reiterating that the concept of electromagnetic induction has been around for so long. “It took hundreds of years before we came up with this... Maybe this is just the right time and we had the right opportunity.”

Both Ateneo and Schneider Philippines are very proud of the duo’s accomplishments abroad, says Macabebe. Schneider mentor Ilagan echoes the professor’s thoughts. “I was confident that they had the winning concept,” he says.

Following their success, the two, who are also thesis partners, are focused on their next big hurdle – finishing their thesis and graduating.

Both are considering working for Schneider Electric, as a job offer is part of their prize. Vintola also has plans of pursuing further studies, if given the opportunity. Payonga would also like to pursue further studies and, in the long run, become a professor.

Meanwhile, the Oscillohump is still being developed and researched. “Hopefully this will become a benchmark in getting the Filipino talent out there, not just in entertainment and sports,” says Vintola. “Perhaps it’s time to recognize Filipinos in the field of engineering.”

In the near future, Payonga and Vintola’s simple but useful innovation may be installed on roads all over the country – and the world. And, noting the heavy traffic that can be expected everyday on major thoroughfares, the Oscillohump is definitely an electrifying idea!

 

ATENEANS ALYSSA TRICIA ELOISE VINTOLA AND LORENZ RAY PAYONGA BOTH ATENEO AND SCHNEIDER PHILIPPINES EAST ASIAN OSCILLOHUMP PAYONGA PAYONGA AND VINTOLA SCHNEIDER SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC VINTOLA VINTOLA AND PAYONGA
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