NTI Contest: the annual high school student team tech competition

The annual NTI Contest is a high school student team tech competition that brings together young engineers from all over the country, tech evangelists, teachers, schools and universities, and independent experts. During the interactive online sessions and offline hackathons, contest participants solve real industrial challenges in the most innovative areas such as autonomous transportation, genome engineering, big data analysis, neurotechnologies and smart energy. Apart from developing their knowledge of programming, biology, physics, and maths, contest participants improve their communication skills, teamwork, and organizational skills. Contest winners get privileged access to the leading universities and establish contacts with future employers.

The NTI Contest sparks interest in cutting-edge technologies and their possible applications across the whole of Russia and its neighboring countries: in 2017-2018, 20,032 students accessed online study materials and learned more about the new technologies. Also, the Contest brings future closer: giving pre-university students an opportunity to work in the most innovative areas of technology with the leading advisers helping them along the way, it gives us a chance to catch up with the world technological progress and take part in the building of better tomorrow.

The key solution of the NTI Contest project is the format of the final team competition. It is similar to a hackathon dedicated to the particular problem. The student teams in several days are to develop the products and test it. The participants communicate with the experts to understand and design the scope and the application of the product. The winner is determined according to an objective assessment. This approach is backed by the technologies (e.g. the online platform) as well as the methodological experience of the core team and the community. In February-May 2018, 610 best students tried their hand in solving real-life industry challenges using cutting-edge technologies.

The number of partner universities and tech companies increases every year. In 2015, only three Russian universities partnered with the NTI Contest. In 2018, there were seventeen of them, including the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology, the Moscow Polytechnic University and the Far Eastern Federal University (Vladivostok)

The NTI Contest is organized by Kruzhok Association, a non-profit organization which brings together experts and companies operating at the intersection of education and tech. The current legal form of the organization was established in July, 2017.

The NTI Contest aims to include a widening range of disciplines using cutting-edge technologies. There were seventeen of them in 2017-18:

Autonomic Transport Systems Advanced Fabrication Technologies
Engineered Biosystems Big Data and Machine Learning
Electronic Engineering: Internet of Things Financial Technologies
Intellectual Robotics Systems Human Machine Interfaces
Intellectual Power Systems Marine Robotic Systems
Nanotechnology Engineering New Materials and Sensors
Nuclear Technology Virtual and Augmented Reality
Space Systems Engineering Wireless Technology
Unmanned Aerial Systems

 

The Autonomic Transport Systems section is about constructing and controlling elements of an autonomic transport system.

At the final stage, teams have to create feature-specific control software for four types of systems that deliver cargo: surface, marine, and aerial transport, and a satellite control and communication system.

The Unmanned Aerial Systems section implies building unmanned aerial vehicles. This year, the participants were offered to create a control algorithm for an unmanned glider.

The Big Data and Machine Learning section allows to tackle real problems related to the processing of big data and finding regularities.

At the final stage, the participants extracted required data from a data array. For this, they will have to write their own program using a set of machine learning texts.

The Virtual and Augmented Reality section is about using virtual and augmented reality technologies in education, medicine, production sector, and defense industry.

At the final stage, the participants created a video game of their own using modern VR and AR technologies — not just a gaming app in a required setting, but a unique product with interesting game mechanics.

In the Marine Robotic Systems section, the participants create robots able to work and interact under water, and build a communication device to connect these robots.

At the final stage, robots built by teams have to cross a distance underwater, informing each other of the bottom configuration. For environmental exploration it will be necessary to correctly adjust the robot vision system.

The Engineered Biosystems section aims at solving practical biological problems at all levels of life organization, from molecules and genes to organisms and biocoenosis.

9-graders created an algorithm for automatic data acquisition of the basic dimensions of aquaponic systems and automatic introduction of reagents into the setting. Participants from 10th and 11th grade worked on defining key point mutations (snp) in the gene under inquiry.

 

Under the Intellectual Robotics Systems section, the participants worked on problems related to the actual projects conducted by companies developing robotics for logistics centers.

The participants had to equip a Trikset-based mobile surface robotic platform with a set of detectors needed for the basic task, and adjust them so as to get reliable information from them.

The Intellectual Power Systems is about solving problems of building autonomic electric power systems.

The final task for the Contest implies building and controlling intellectual power system on a specially designed stand.

The Nanotechnology Engineering section is based on the interaction of physics and chemistry in modern science.

This year, as a final task at the intersection of biology and nanotechnology the participants were offered to synthesize pure protein from the already developed genetic material. This developing technology implies creating individually tailored proteins.

The Neurotechnologies section is about human-machine interaction, recognition of emotions, and broadening the perspectives of interaction with the world around us.

This year, the final task was to create a controlling system for bionic prosthetic human arm. The participants were to build the prosthetic limb itself and to design and put into operation a controlling system based on muscular and brain activity.

The participants of the Advanced Fabrication Technologies section will work in the field of digital production, i.e. design, prototyping and manufacturing hi-tech products.

At the final stage, the participants built a working CNC for a machine tool able to cut a printed circuit board. They will be given a construction kit to build a triaxial machine tool.

The Financial Technologies section is dealing with the finance industry, telecommunications, and IT security.

The final task was to create a decentralized app at the intersection of blockchain technologies and the Internet of things to ensure interaction between electric car battery producers, service centers changing the batteries, and customers. The teams are to develop a solution to run replaceable batteries counterfeit tests and to confirm manifested quality and current wear-out.

The Space Systems Engineering section is all about solving the problems of space systems engineering.

This year, the participants were establishing connection between two satellites. They built a satellite using a special construction kit; created a communication line; integrated a transmitter into the satellite network; orientated the satellite precisely; and transmitted the data via coordinated device operation.

The Wireless Technology section participants were working on constructing networks and ensuring communication in a situation when the number of devices connected and the amount of data sent increase along with the requirements for systems’ safety and performance.

This year, the task was to localize errors and restore operation of a remote object through different wireless channels, using an additional channel of control.

In the Electronic Engineering: Internet of Things section, the participants became Smart Home designers. Along with creating the best algorithm for controlling lights, video surveillance and access, they designed and created a Smart Home of their own.

The final task was mostly about using Internet-based remote control for the Smart Home systems and creating mobile apps.

Within the Nuclear Technology section, the participants work on problems related to nuclear physics and nuclear technologies.

This year, the participants were working in the field of instrument-making, building radiation recorders.