The University of Texas Badge

This Fall despite our shift to virtual collaborative events, we held SEVEN Science and Inventors Sprints, the most we’ve ever held in a single semester! These sprints engaged over 100 UT Austin students in authentic R&D experiences alongside experts!

Through Zoom breakout rooms, Google Jamboards and Drive folders, students were able to work in teams to create innovative solutions to pressing problems from real companies, government organizations, and research labs in just four hours. Our sprints included problem statements from Project HETDEX, the US Army 75th Innovation Command, Trend Micro, the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, IHS Markit, and the CIA. We loved hosting all of our incredible problem sponsors, and getting to engage so many new students in research and innovation. Read more about each of our exciting Fall Sprints below.

Project Hetdex

On Tuesday 10/13 and again on Tuesday 11/17, we dove into analyzing new images with the Project HETDEX team, which included Dr. Karl Gebhardt, Dr Erin Cooper, Dr. Keely Finkelstein, Dustin Davis, and Lindsay House, determine dark energy sources. Students were at the forefront of new astronomy research! The students that were involved enjoyed learning about data use and applying a rank scale. The Project HETDEX scientists were impressed by the students' skills and the students enjoyed the experience!

DoD Military Sprint

On Saturday 10/17, we sprinted through military innovation challenges alongside DoD experts from the 75th Innovation Command. Students needed to talk with military experts to understand the context of their problems while relying on their team’s interdisciplinary STEM skills to develop viable product solution designs. From batteries to bacteria sensors to drones, student teams flew through creative innovation & design in just a few hours to present solutions to current DoD challenges!

Challenges in Cybersecurity with Trend Micro

Late in October we completed a successful sprint with Trend Micro, a global cybersecurity company! Students collaborated in small teams to race the clock on a series of challenges which illustrate key issues in cybersecurity for individuals and businesses. Teams worked directly with engineering representatives from Trend Micro to absorb contextual knowledge to apply to their challenges. The students engaged in a light competition for who could address the greatest variety of challenges within the sprint time! Students gained a new appreciation for the security vulnerabilities behind common systems and for some students, this was their first experience wrangling code to understand how to improve it. Thank you to our Trend Micro partners for problem-solving with us!

COVID-19 Modeling Consortium Sprint

We completed another successful sprint with UT’s COVID-19 Modeling Consortium on Saturday 11/17. Students tackled timely COVID related problems about healthcare policy, equitable resource allocation, long term care facilities, and childcare. They used real data and demographics about the country’s response to COVID-19 to formulate data models and analytics methods that can monitor and mitigate the effects of the ongoing health crisis. They also learned about data equity and how methods of data collection and bias awareness can influence decision making. Thank you to Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, Dr. Kelly Pierce, Dr. Kaitlyn Johnson, and Dr. Ashley Teufel for providing the problem statements, data, and guiding our inventors through these important and challenging topics!

IHS Markit Sprint

Reed Olmstead from IHS Markit led students though an intricate problem about data science in the Energy industry. Students analyzed hundreds of data points from natural gas operators to find trends and abnormalities in well lifecycles. In just 4 hours students received a crash course in data hygiene, machine learning, and data visualization tools then incorporated these methods into unique and innovative solutions! Using excel and python libraries students applied their knowledge of statistics, mathematics, and their new data science toolbox to find creative ways to understand and interpret information about natural gas drilling. "Well" done everyone!

Satellite Crisis Response: Science Meets Policy

Dr. Bianca Adair, UT Austin’s Resident Intelligence Officer and CIA member, led an exciting 2-hour sprint event to discover how to quickly research who might be connected to a satellite failure. Dr Adair provided the resources and protocol to perform an efficient briefing on a intelligence threat while students supplied their STEM knowledge to researching technical capabilities of different nationstates which might contribute their ability affect satellite technology. This sprint was whirlwind event which brought together questions of both science and policy!