Education Technology

TI Codes Contest Winners Revealed

Posted 10/12/2020 by Matt Carson

Texas Instruments (TI) teamed up with NASA earlier this year to host the TI Codes Contest, where students could compete in teams to put their programming, problem-solving and creativity into practice in a space-themed challenge. We asked students to think of ways to improve a process or product on the International Space Station (ISS) using TI technology.

Each team was tasked with putting together a brief video synopsis to present their concept as well as their prototype. In addition, the pandemic added an extra layer of complexity as the teams would have to work with each other remotely. The stage was set for a true test of the abilities and perseverance of this new generation of future engineers, scientists and STEM initiates.

We received dozens of entries, ranging from ways to make the ISS cleaner and safer for the astronauts, to making processes more efficient, to improving the quality of life aboard the station. The innovation and ingenuity the teams demonstrated was outstanding. Our judges had the difficult task of picking the winners out of so many forward-thinking and inventive solutions.

We are excited to introduce you to the winners of the contest. Each member of the following teams will receive a TI graphing calculator and TI’s calculator-controlled robotic vehicle, the TI-Innovator™ Rover. Their adult sponsor also wins a $250 gift card to help cover the cost of future class activities. Lastly, each team wins a trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, once travel conditions improve.

And the winners are ...

Grand prize winner:

The Germaphobes, including:

  • Alayna Nguyen
  • Jonathan Ngoy
  • Manvi Sinvhal
  • Manu Gupta
  • Gianna Renzo
  • Suzanne Hanna, Adult advisor

The team: The Germaphobes are a first in the history of the TI Codes Contest. Never before have we had a group of students, who have never met in person, collaborate in different states to brainstorm an idea, design and build their prototype, and create a video explanation. They plan to donate their TI prizes to continue STEM learning in their respective high schools.

The Germaphobes - Grand Prize Winners!
The Germaphobes explain their concept and prototype in their winning video submission.

The concept: A free-floating robot designed to sanitize surfaces on the ISS using UV light. Watch their winning video.

Free-floating robot on ISS
The robot uses TI technology to determine its proximity to a wall or obstruction so that it can stop or reverse course.

1st runner-up:

The Quaranteens, including:
  • Arshaun Faraji
  • Mason Neumann
  • Carson Caranza
  • Rana Banankhah
  • Reza Banankhah

The team: The Quaranteens drew upon their own life experiences during the pandemic, which mirrored some of the challenges astronauts face aboard the ISS. With the space station crew confined and materials limited, the idea for the 3D extruder stemmed from the Quaranteens own real-world need to efficient with available resources and repurpose existing materials into something new.

The concept: A 3D printer extruder that helps astronauts make efficient use of limited resources by recycling old prints into new, usable filament. See their video.

The Quaranteens - 1st runner-up
The extruder uses a motor and fan to propel plastic through a heater, melting down unneeded material into new filament for the 3D printer.

2nd runner-up:

The Bacteria Busters, including:
  • Evan Leong
  • Tony Chen

The team: The Bacteria Busters drew their inspiration from past TI Codes Contest winners. Their research led them to study how unsanitary drinking water conditions affect the health and well-being of populations on Earth, and discover that astronauts aboard the ISS must still guard against accidental bacterial water contamination.

The concept: The Drank Tank — a water purifier that can function in zero-gravity conditions to ensure the supply of uncontaminated drinking water aboard the space station See their video.

The Bacteria Busters - 2nd runner-up
The purification process uses both conventional filtering techniques and UV light to produce potable water.

Once again, congratulations to the winners and to all those who submitted entries to the contest. We greatly appreciate the intelligence and creativity displayed here. We hope that everyone who participated will come back next year for the TI Codes Contest in 2021.

Check out last year’s winners.

About the author: Matt Carson is a writer for Texas Instruments and a former contributor to Hilti Group, Gemmy Industries and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. A graduate of the University of North Texas, Carson is also a published fiction author, game designer and naval history enthusiast. When he’s not writing, Carson is an avid reader and gamer with a lifelong passion for science, pop culture, anthropology and sociology. He believes that advances in technology are the key to actualizing the future.