Young minds rock Jakarta science slam

The Jakarta Post, page 2

Thirty young scholars pitted their ideas against each other on Tuesday at the “Falling Walls Lab” science slam, an event hosted by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and University of Indonesia, competing for the chance to fly to Berlin.

The participants — including Bachelor’s and Master’s students, PhD candidates, postdoctoral researchers and entrepreneurs — were given three minutes to present their research projects, business models and social initiatives in front of seven jury members and an audience.

They came from various fields, such as mechanical engineering, information and technology, architecture and science.

One of the contestants, Liana Christiani, who is completing her PhD at Kyushu University in Japan, flew to Indonesia just to join the competition. She said she had joined similar competitions abroad previously in which most participants were from developed countries who were inventing ideas for the benefit of their own countries.

She explained that Indonesia, as a developing country, had the opportunity to use hydrogen energy as an alternative energy source because it was a highly efficient green technology. Fuel cell technology, which is used to convert hydrogen directly into electricity, is very efficient and can be used for a wide range of applications such as for power plants, cars and smartphones, she added.

However, fuel cells are only popular in developed countries like Japan, the US and Germany. It is still a challenge to develop fuel cells and carry out research in developing countries like Indonesia because a large investment is required, she said. She said, fuel cell membrane makes up almost half of the whole cost of a fuel cell due to the high cost of the polymer. Therefore, she showed in her presentation that she has found a breakthrough approach to making polymer membranes used for fuel cells cheaper.

Liana’s hard work has paid off. The panel of jurists chose her as the first winner of the competition.

The second winner was Dian Prayogi Susanto, who showed off his automatic control devices that can obtain precise information about plants so that they can be given the necessary care.

One device, called the Habibi garden sensor, can read a plant’s temperature, nutrition, moisture, light intensity and humidity. The device is connected with another called the Habibi dosing pump, which is able to provide plants with what they need.

The two winners will travel to Berlin to compete for a cash prize at the global Lab Finale on Nov. 8.

They will join the international Falling Walls Conference on Nov. 9 where some of the world’s prominent scientists will present their research in 15 minutes.

Irene Jansen, the director of the DAAD Regional Office Jakarta, said that they are looking for young Indonesian scientists who have groundbreaking and innovative ideas that could solve various problems the world is facing.

Uras Siahaan, a jury member in the competition and lecturer in the field of architecture from the Jakarta-based Indonesian Christian University (UKI), applauded all the participants for their ability to present their innovative ideas in such a limited time. She said, some of their ideas are wishful thinking, but some others could actually be implemented in the real world.



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