Microsoft Academia Accelerator Program fosters digital transformation at grassroot levels

Students showcase innovative disaster management solutions based on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Mixed Reality and Natural Language Processing 

Bengaluru, February 05, 2019: Microsoft India today hosted AXLE, a Microsoft Academia Acceleratoran annual showcase of collaboration between Microsoft and academia. This year’s AI for Good theme packed in a rich agenda of keynotes, tech talks and student projects that showcased innovative ways of using technology to solve real world challenges. The event brought together Computer Science faculty, Microsoft leaders and employees, several industry influencers and students from top engineering colleges of India who showcased innovative ways of building state of the art technology to predict or manage natural disasters better. 

Academia Accelerator is one of Microsoft’s most comprehensive campus engagement programs aimed at building a deep, long-term association between industry and academia in India and reiterates the company’s mission to enable people to realize their full potential.From just ideas at the campus level, Academia AcceleratorShowcase builds on the best through mentor support, publishing support and pitch support provided and eventually provides the opportunity for the best among India’s student developers to hone their CS skills further.

Microsoft believes that among the new technologies that offer huge potential to ensure build richer, cleaner, healthier societies, AI could be considered the foremost.It can transform the output of people and organizations across every sector including better management of catastrophes and disasters and delivering relief materials where required. Keeping in line with this, the theme for Codefundo++ National Challenge under Academia Accelerator was “Build state of the art technology to predict or manage natural disasters better”.The challengereceived great response with 5000+ participating students across 21 colleges, and 350 + new projects as Academia Accelerator program celebrated its seventh year of collaboration with students and faculty in India. Top 21 teams showcased their solutions today at the new Microsoft Campus in Bengaluru.

To further explore more possibilities around the same, topics such as AI for Earth: Solutions for Global Environmental Challenges, Health Data Collaborative Enabling AI Network and AI on the Edge and for the Edge to Design Smarter Cities were amongst the favored themes which were discussed during the keynote sessions at the Showcase today.

“Academia Accelerator aims to provide insights to students about important technology trends and practices and adding industry know-how to the existing Computer Science curriculum. At Microsoft, we see unique ways of how AI can be used to improve products, services and how fostering the dialogue on the beneficial use of AI can help in enabling long term sustainable solutions to large scale challenges.” saidChitra Sood, Director Business Management, Microsoft India (R&D) Private Ltd. “India has immense potential to be a hub of development for AI driven solutions. Microsoft’s engagement with the Academia reiterates our commitment to engage and enrich the innovation journey of students in Engineering schools. It makes AI and its benefits accessible and drive digital transformation at the grassroot level. We are excited by the enthusiasm shown by students using AI and anticipate that they will apply their learnings from this challenge through their career,” she added.

Academia Accelerator highlights the concepts of teamwork and collaboration as well as multi-disciplinary focus that took students beyond pure technology or code into other equally important determinants of success, such as user experience, design, customer value propositions.

Microsoft is committed to fostering innovation and creating a real impact on communities. In line with this, the key focus is on empowering students to think innovatively to craft solutions for real time challenges. Initiatives such as the Microsoft Academia Accelerator represent a tremendous learning opportunity for students. In addition to skills and training that launch incredible careers, students receive unparalleled hands-on experience, guidance and mentorship from industry luminaries, potentially opening doors to a future as an entrepreneur, innovator or technologist. Through these programs, students are empowered to dream big, build creatively, learn through competition and boldly bring their ideas to life as they gain lifelong career skills throughout their journey.

Winning Team Projects:

IIT Madras: UAVs for Disaster Management (WINNER)

Whenever disaster strikes, access to accurate information and the capacity to respond with life-saving assistance is critical. The project aims to solve this exact issue by creating an end-to-end autonomous system, to provide precise information about where exactly the people are stuck, with the use of UAVs which are powered with AI and Computer Vision. The system can efficiently distribute the drones to cover maximum area, and perform intelligent tasks such as detecting people (both visible and partially visible), whether they are able to move or not and activity recognition to help in optimizing the resources available.

IIT Guwahati: DUBG (First Runner up)

DUBG is a mixed reality app for efficient post disaster management. Rescuers are busy during operation, which is why this app is based on Mixed Reality so that rescuers don’t waste time on pre-planning their routes and operating any device for communication. DUBG makes basic tasks like communication, navigation and current status monitoring easy for rescuers. The team’s vision is to create an Augmented Reality based navigation system enhanced by voice assistant to make the rescue drives hassle free. Using the current technology of Microsoft such as Mixed Reality and Azure Speech Recognition, the IIT Guwahati team has reimagined current disaster management system.

IIT Jodhpur: Disaster Chain (Second Runner up)

The project is a distributed IoT-based solution, deployed in different sections / rooms of the building with the target as home / building automation solution, which acts as an early warning system and takes precautionary measures on detection of disasters, offloading crucial immediate steps from the cloud to edge, while staying connected to the cloud for data storage and further analytics. It works with an Android app (skinapp), using an exported tensorflow model trained on Microsoft’s custom vision service (cognitive services) to predict skin diseases offline (for survivors rescued from the disaster zone)

About Academia Accelerator

This exclusive program enables Microsoft’s engagement with campuses through enrichment of Computer Science course curriculum and driving student innovation. Supporting Computer Science faculty in curriculum development and delivery- is done through participation in tech boot camps, guest lectures, adjunct faculty, curriculum reviews & development, leadership talks, technology workshops, joint research papers and mentoring student projects. Fostering student innovation and entrepreneurship on campus through a series of code.fun.do hackathons which give students at the partnering campuses an opportunity to work collaboratively in team environments to build modern, real-world applications that leverage the latest Microsoft platforms including Mobile and Cloud, and a series of workshops that span a wide spectrum of topics relevant to the modern-day high technology industry.

About AI for Earth

AI for Earth is a $50 million, 5-year commitment from Microsoft to put AI at work for the future of the planet. Launched in July 2017, its focus areas are climate change, agriculture, biodiversity and water. In just a year, AI for Earth has grown from 20 grantees to 147 from across more than 40 countries, with $1.1M of Azure credits awarded to date. AI for Earth puts Microsoft cloud and AI tools in the hands of those working to solve global environmental challenges. Through grants that provide access to cloud and AI tools, opportunities for education and training on AI, and investments in innovative, scalable solutions, AI for Earth works to advance sustainability across the globe.

About Microsoft India

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @Microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft set up its India operations in 1990. Today, Microsoft entities in India have over 9,000 employees, engaged in sales and marketing, research and development and customer services and support, across 11 Indian cities – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. Microsoft offers its global cloud services from local datacenters to accelerate digital transformation across Indian start-ups, businesses, and government agencies. In 2016, Microsoft opened one of its eight Cyber Security Engagement Centers in the country, to address security needs of both public and private sectors.

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