Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
October, 21st 2015

There are any number of competitions being held globally to stimulate the minds of budding inventors and planet champions.  Here’s one specifically for Africa from UNESCO, for which the deadline to submit an application is mid-November .

Some of the detail – - There are four programmes within the ANESI Mobility Programme: ANESI’s Student Exchange Programme, Researcher Exchange Programme, University/Industry Joint Training Programme and visiting Fellowship for Outstanding Women Geoscientists. Deadline for applications: 15 November 2015.

UNESCO’s Earth Science Education Initiative in Africa, which aims to support the development of the next generation of Earth scientists in Africa who are equipped with the necessary tools, networks and perspectives to apply sound science to solving and benefiting from the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development, is implemented through ANESI.


Click on the logo below to learn the details:


There’s so much to be done to aid the development of the nations which make up this continent.  Will YOU be a contributor?

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Does the idea of extraterrestrial life interest you?  If so, here’s an opportunity to earn big bucks with design ideas for Mars habitation.  Like they have in the past, the US governmental agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is putting it’s faith in humankind to come up with a viable idea to advance exploration of the planet Mars.

blog martian architects

NASA is looking to uncover some bright ideas about how materials already found on Mars can be put to use by human visitors (Credit: NASA)

It’s purported that each piece of material gleaned from the Red Planet and put to use in building infrastructure will mean less that needs to be ferried some 140 million miles (225 million km) from Earth.  NASA says this could equate to savings of more than US$100,000 per kg (2.2 lb) of cargo on each launch.

NASA has announced the top award at $10,000 to the brightest design idea for building a structure on Mars that uses in situ materials, along with $2,500 for two second-place submissions.  The designs could consist of surface materials like rocks or soil, or even draw on the planet’s water supply.

NASA is taking submissions until December 3, with winners to be announced in late January 2016.  So let your knowledge and imagination have free reign and, who knows, you could walk away with the top prize!

Click on the red planet for more detail about the challenge.

blog red planet

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October, 19th 2015

NLP or Natural Language Processing has become more than just an emerging technology – it is here to stay!  Each new invention that comes out seems designed to better understand the way(s) that humans communicate – whether that be in formal writing, slang, phrases, inflections…the list goes on and on.  Programming a non-human system to understand the nuances of human communication seems a genuinely daunting task.  But around the world, NLP continues to find new applications -

Read about this company in Sweden where NLP is a way of life…



“Unlike traditional approaches to text analytics, we begin by modelling meaning instead of structure. Instead of relying on the standard processing pipeline, we rely on a live semantic memory model that continuously learns and understands text without any human intervention.”…”It learns the meanings of words by observing their usages and contexts, and it never stops learning: language evolves constantly, as do our semantic memories.”


They’ve taken analysis of Social Media to a new level, and had stunning success in evaluating that data to be predictive of outcomes.  Here’s how they fared with poll data in September 2015:

Gavagai and the most recent Greek election


And if you’ve never heard of “word embeddings” - vectors whose relative similarities correlate with semantic similarity – here’s an explanation that actually makes sense  (I minored in Lit in college, and this never came up.  I do write a great sonnet, though!)

A brief history of word embeddings (and some clarifications)


If you’re interested in Social Media and its effect and interplay with the next advances in computing, you’re in good company.  What is the future ‘saying’ to you?

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Chances are you’re already familiar with the term Internet of Things – and the acronym IOT – that keeps popping up all over in media of all kinds.  In case you’re not…here’s a great definition from Technopedia

“…its initial use has been attributed to Kevin Ashton, an expert on digital innovation

In 1999, Ashton said it best in this quote from an article in the RFID Journal:
“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things – using data they gathered without any help from us – we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best”.”


Many companies have been jumping on the IOT band-wagon.  Here’s a nifty article and video from Hewlitt Packard that sums up their contribution:

Everything’s Connected –

Now All You Need is a Platform: Internet of Things


Credit: © Yong hian Lim |

The Internet of Things has exploded which means tremendous implications for apps, the cloud and the telecommunication service providers who keep it all connected.


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So many of us are actively working on world class solutions to the challenges we face everyday.

Well, for those who are making great strides to improve and minimize our impact on our environment, this challenge is very timely.

Unilever has partnered with the University of Cambridge to sponsor the Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Challenge

The goal is to find innovative and scaleable technologies or initiatives that are contributing to one or more of the eight Global Goals  they’ve identified as most relevant to business and entrepreneurs.

Join the conversation, or better yet, submit your ideas.  Here is the timeline for the sustainable challenge2

And if you’re not quite sure how your research would fit into the challenge requirements, there is a wealth of information on their website, such as blogs of other entrepreneurs highlighting their great work and global goals descriptions.

Click on the picture to get all of the detail needed to get involved!

blog sustainable challenge3


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