From India, to …. home? The virtual Go Green 2020 experience

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The Schneider Go Green competition is Schneider Electric’s global student innovation challenge. In its 10th edition, 2020 was perhaps more challenging than any other. The pandemic scenario led to the first-ever digital global finals. The competition is an excellent opportunity to showcase your innovative idea, the one you believe the world needs!

We (Shalvi Shukla and Anirudh Chakravarthy) had the opportunity of a lifetime to participate in the Go Green 2020 Global Finals. Representing our country, India, among eight teams around the world was a matter of great pride.

How it all began

We came across the Schneider Go Green, the student innovation challenge independently through a campus email. The two themes that specifically stood out to us among the 5 were buildings of the future and plants of the future. The platform sounded extremely interesting; however, I wasn’t aware of Anirudh’s intentions to participate (and vice versa), and we were struggling to find a partner. Over a casual cup of tea, we happened to broach upon this, and suddenly it all clicked for us!

We felt it was a perfect team as well! Anirudh being a Computer Science student and me (Shalvi) a student of Mechanical Engineering, we were each able to bring an exciting dimension towards the competition. Very pleased with our team, we began ideation. Anirudh had significant experience in the Computer Vision domain, and we felt this was something we could leverage for smarter buildings. In a few days, we were able to concretely identify shortcomings with existing lighting and HVAC systems which led to the proposal of  SmartEye. By identifying crowd, lighting conditions, external temperature, and personal preferences using a low-cost vision camera, we proposed a Computer Vision solution to locally optimize settings for each office room.

Smart Eye student innovation challenge go greenRoad to the finals

A few weeks later, we were notified of being shortlisted for the semi-finals. Competing with several other teams, we needed to pitch our idea to a panel of Schneider Electric India leaders. We decided to keep it as natural and conversational as possible, to explain the shortcomings of existing solutions, the motivation for our idea, and the potential impact. The judges were extremely impressed with our presentation due to the natural flow and explanation of the solution. We were fairly optimistic, but COVID-19 struck and threw all plans into disarray. We were back home from college, and among a load of assignments, we were delighted to receive  THE awaited email: we’d been selected among eight teams for the national finals. We were each assigned a mentor to take our idea to the next level and examine its practical feasibility. Our mentor Ms. Vasantha mentored us for three months; she exposed us to various experts from Schneider Electric. This exposure was invaluable towards our final idea, a plethora of contrasting views allowed us to solidify our idea from merely a theoretical concept to a market-ready and financially feasible solution by understanding the customer needs.

The big day soon arrived, albeit after delays due to the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic. We went with a similar strategy as our semi-finals pitch. We kept our presentation as crisp as possible, with short bullets and images for easy understanding of our motivation and technology solution without getting into the nitty-gritty.

Go Green india innovation challenge for studentsAnd a few weeks later, the results were declared over email. We nervously skimmed through, and could barely get ourselves to the announcement. And then it was sheer ecstasy! We were delighted, we were the Greater India winners, and would represent our country at the global finals!

The Global Finals

While we rued the missed opportunity to learn about other cultures and interact with global leaders at the Innovation Summit, we were provided with a virtual platform to interact with all participants. We caught up monthly to discuss progress, and learn from the experiences of previous participants.

For our idea, the first thing we did was interact with the regional finals judges. In a celebratory mood, we expected to cruise through the meeting, but they promptly pointed out several flaws and impracticalities in our solution, which promptly brought us back to Earth. Another three months of refinement followed, with continuous interactions from various technology, customer experience, and startup experts making it more aligned to Schneider Electric’s vision and needs.

India winners Schneider Go Green

On September 10, 2020, we participated in the first-ever digital global finals of 2021 Schneider Go Green student competition/innovation challenge. It was perhaps more difficult than ever with the various challenges associated with delivering an online pitch. We stuck with our tried and tested pitch formula, and we were extremely pleased with our presentation. The results were announced later in the day, with the team from South America declared as winners for their sensational idea to change the lives of local fishermen.

Our Takeaways

The Schneider Go Green 2020 challenge provided us with tremendous opportunities to interact with Schneider Electric mentors. We were able to understand the customer needs, the extent of Schneider’s offerings, and the clear market gap which we could solve. More than anything, our biggest takeaway was the maturity and clarity of thought we achieved post the competition. From a mere idea over a cup of tea, we developed it into a market-ready solution capable of making buildings energy-efficient. The competition was intellectually enriching and has been a great learning experience. We are sure some of the connections we’ve made with the good people at Schneider Electric will last a lifetime!

This year’s edition is now accepting registrations! This opportunity of a lifetime to join a student innovation challenge is one you won’t want to miss! Click here to register for Schneider Go Green 2021!!

If our story didn’t entice you enough, how does an all-inclusive trip to a destination of your choosing sound? The winning team will win a trip to any of the following locations: Boston, London, New Delhi, Paris, or Shanghai! Join now! #SchneiderGoGreen

Schneider Go Green- innovation challenge

About Us

Shalvi Shukla is a pre-final year Mechanical Engineering undergraduate at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India. She has gathered a variety of experiences, working on technology and finance at Carraro Technologies and Tata Power DDL. She is a global finalist in the Go Green 2020 competition.

Anirudh Chakravarthy is a final-year Computer Science undergraduate at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India. He pursued his undergraduate thesis at Harvard University on Computer Vision. He has also worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and published papers in Computer Vision. Anirudh partnered Shalvi to represent India at the Go Green 2020 finals.

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