A competition has been launched to challenge university students to design technology to monitor the Mekong’s water level, rainfall, soil moisture, and water quality.
The River Monitoring Technology Competition, launched by the Mekong River Commission (MRC), is for students in the four regional countries of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
The competition will receive entries from 15 selected universities in those four nations to design a “cost-effective, sustainable technology” to help protect the lifeblood for millions of fishing and farming families, the MRC stated.
The commission already maintains some 250 stations that monitor the hydrology, rainfall, water quality, ecological health, fisheries and drought that affect Southeast Asia’s largest river. Yet most of this technology depends on foreign equipment that is often expensive and sometimes outdated.
The competition, therefore, aims to develop telemetry-sensor technology that measures four separate categories: water level, rainfall, soil moisture, and water quality. Such sensors are typically installed in separate stations, or outdoors on riverbanks, usually in agricultural areas.
Competitors should design a station appropriate for its own terrain, location, weather, and functions; operable via solar power; and capable of collecting and sending telemetry data from station to server, in real-time. Winning entries will be judged according to their accuracy, durability, cost-effectiveness and innovation.
In Vietnam, four universities selected for the competition are Hanoi Water Resources University, University of Science – Vietnam National University Hanoi (Hanoi), Can Tho University in Can Tho City of the Mekong Delta, and University of Science – Vietnam National University (Ho Chi Minh City).
The applicants will be invited to Bangkok to pitch their idea to MRC Secretariat judges. The accepted project will receive a grant of $800 to research and develop their prototype.
By the end of March, each competitor will present their prototype to a panel of international judges in Vientiane who will select four winning teams – one for each category.
Aside from an award of $5,000, the winner will be invited to Vientiane to present their projects in April 2023, at both the 4th MRC Summit and MRC Pre-Summit International Conference – to the regional heads of state and other dignitaries in attendance.
The winner will then work with the MRC to implement their technology along the Mekong.
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