Smart challenges students to solve real-world problems via tech innovations

[22 July 2015] DAVAO CITY—Electronics Engineering student, Ket Villasencio, 21, believes that real-world problems can be solved through the innovative use of technology.

DAVAO CITY—Electronics Engineering student, Ket Villasencio, 21, believes that real-world problems can be solved through the innovative use of technology.

With his smarts and background in engineering, Ket wants to help his father—who is a banana grower in his hometown Compostela Valley—deal with common agricultural problems.

Because of his passion for learning, he attended the Davao leg of the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (SWEEP) roadshow at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) last July 10.

The SWEEP roadshow was organized by wireless leader Smart Communications to promote the culture of innovation among IT and engineering students all over the country.  SWEEP is the country’s biggest industry-academe linkage program that seeks to enhance engineering and IT education.

“Smart has embraced technology for development.  We have harnessed web and mobile technologies for social good in education, disaster preparedness, environment sustainability, livelihood, and agriculture,” said Ramon R. Isberto, head of Public Affairs at Smart.

“The SWEEP roadshow is a venue to promote the culture of innovation in schools, and to involve our students in the creative process of utilizing technology to enable more Filipinos to live more,” added Isberto.

Tech to give back

Ket believes the things he learned in school will ultimately not just be for himself but for the development of his community as well.

He said the relevant lectures and workshops conducted during the SWEEP roadshow reinforced his desire to bring his school projects into the real world as solutions to existing problems.  For instance, his thesis on technology for agriculture—a heat stress analyzer that aims to protect agricultural crops from the irreversible effects of heat stress. His device, along with a cloud-based mobile app, can also analyze results for harvest, and can monitor status of the crops remotely.

Ket said that technology—no matter how simple—can help people. His thesis can help his father and the many crop growers in Mindanao deal with unpredictable weather.

Dr. Randy Gamboa, IT professor in USEP said that teaching students to deviate from the usual thought process involved in problem-solving is an important part of their “technopreneurship” curriculum. He believes that students should always be motivated to learn and to discover that there's so much that they can do with the existing technologies available.

Tech for people

Phil Smithson, co-founder and director of On-Off Design Technology, a Hong Kong-based consulting firm, and co-founder of User Experience Manila (UXMNL)—a company devoted to building a community of user/customer experience and service designers in the Philippines—said that it will be the next generation of young professionals who will be building stuff in the future.  The workshop on user experience design that he facilitated taught students that the best solutions can be created by learning about people and their needs.

With this roadshow, Smart aims to get more students from schools all over the country to participate in the 12th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards with this year’s theme of “Enabling Lives through Mobile and Digital Innovations.”

Starting this year, the 12th SWEEP Awards will be open to all college students, with participating teams required to design mobile applications that address consumer pain points in areas of Consumer, Business-to-Business, Social Innovations, Big Data, and Machine-to-Machine or Internet of Things.

The grand champion will win P300,000, and the second- and third-placers, P200,000 and P100,000, respectively.  Schools of the winning teams will also receive grants. 

The SWEEP roadshow is headed to Ateneo de Naga University in Naga City on July 24; Angeles University Foundation (AUF) in Angeles City, Pampanga on July 31; and the University of Santo Tomas, Manila on August 12, 2015.

For more details about SWEEP, and the SWEEP Awards, click on  To know more about Smart’s other programs for education, click on

Students are asked to present the beta version of their proposed mobile application during the user design experience workshop as part of the SWEEP roadshow in Davao City’s USEP.