Posts about challenge prize

Innovation, America and Engineering: NAE Grand Challenges Summit

Innovation, America and Engineering: NAE Grand Challenges Summit in Raleigh, North Carolina:

Friday morning in Raleigh, a group of engineers from industry, academia and even government met to discuss the threat of America losing its global lead in innovation. The panel discussion was part of a Summit on the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges

Jeff Wadsworth, CEO and president of Battelle Memorial Institute, noted that high school graduation rates have fallen from about 86 percent in the Baby Boomer generation to about 72 percent today. He compared that to a 96 percent graduation rate in Denmark, 92 percent in Japan and the fact that China graduates three engineering students for every one that we do. It’s not news that international competition is stiffening against us, but the statistics he presented about how the U.S. measures up to foreign countries in K-12 metrics was gut-wrenching.

“Our historic lead in secondary education has disappeared,” Wadsworth said. “And as a leader of a large organization, I worry about education.”

Another panelist, Senator Ted Kaufman (D-Delaware) said the country was at a critical point in history. “We are in an economic war,” he said. “The future of our country rests on our ability to use STEM to solve problems.” Kauffman is the only sitting senator in Congress to have worked in the engineering field, and he repeatedly drummed out a message that policy could drive a solution to the STEM crisis.

A third panelist – John Chambers, chairman and CEO of CISCO – said he believed changing teaching methods in K-12 settings to be more collaborative, projects-oriented and skills-mastery oriented would be a good starting point.

the deans of the engineering colleges at both Duke and NC State universities announced today a new nationwide program targeting attracting school-aged children to the STEM fields. The Grand Challenge K-12 Partners Program will lean on engineering colleges throughout the U.S. to be resource hubs for K-12 students and teachers in their region.

Three more NAE Grand Challenge Summits are scheduled to take place next month, in Phoenix, Chicago and Boston. A fourth is scheduled for Seattle in May.

The importance of innovation and engineering education to long term economic success is one thing I believe strongly in and have written about here: Engineering Economic Benefits, Techonolgy Innovation Global Economy Changing, Centers of Technical Excellence and Economic Power. And is one reason I work for the American Society of Engineering Education (this blog is my own and not associated with ASEE).

Related: USA Losing Scientists and Engineers Educated in the USAInvest in Science for a Strong Economy

The Million Dollar Programming Prize

The Million Dollar Programming Prize

One of the main areas of collaborative filtering we exploited is the nearest-neighbor approach. A movie’s “neighbors” in this context are other movies that tend to be scored most similarly when rated by the same viewer. For example, consider Saving Private Ryan (1998), a war movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks. Its neighbors may include other war movies, movies directed by Spielberg, or movies starring Tom Hanks. To predict a particular viewer’s rating, we would look for the nearest neighbors to Saving Private Ryan that the viewer had already seen and rated. For some viewers, it may be easy to find a full allotment of close neighbors; for many others, we may discover only a handful of neighboring movies.

A second area of collaborative-filtering research we pursued involves what are known as latent-factor models. These score both a given movie and a given viewer according to a set of factors, themselves inferred from patterns in the ratings given to all the movies by all the viewers [see illustration, “The Latent-Factor Approach“]. Factors for movies may measure comedy versus drama, action versus romance, and orientation to children versus orientation to adults. Because the factors are determined automatically by algorithms, they may correspond to hard-to-describe concepts such as quirkiness, or they may not be interpretable by humans at all.

The model may use 20 to 40 such factors to locate each movie and viewer in a multidimensional space. It then predicts a viewer’s rating of a movie according to the movie’s score on the dimensions that person cares about most. We can put these judgments in quantitative terms by taking the dot (or scalar) product of the locations of the viewer and the movie.

We found that most nearest-neighbor techniques work best on 50 or fewer neighbors, which means these methods can’t exploit all the information a viewer’s ratings may contain. Latent-factor models have the opposite weakness: They are bad at detecting strong associations among a few closely related films, such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003).

Because these two methods are complementary, we combined them, using many versions of each in what machine-learning experts call an ensemble approach. This allowed us to build systems that were simple and therefore easy to code and fast to run.

Interesting article. See some other posts on challenge prizes.

Read: posts on programingProblems Programming MathProgrammers (comic)

$10 Million X Prize for 100 MPG Car

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE

The window for applications will be open until mid 2008, when a thorough qualification process will assess safety, cost, features and business plans to ensure that only production-capable, consumer-friendly cars compete. Those that qualify will race their vehicles in rigorous cross-country stage races in 2009 and 2010 that combine speed, distance, urban driving and overall performance. The winners will be the vehicles that exceed 100 MPG, meet strict emissions standards and finish in the fastest time. Host cities involved in the competition route are to be announced shortly.

Related: Lunar Landers X-Prize$10 Million for Science SolutionsEngineering More Sustainable Vehicles (Challenge X)

$10 Million for Science Solutions

$10m. To win, just solve these science problems by Ian Sample. Building off the success of the X-prize for a space transport:

Now the foundation is looking to repeat its success in other areas of science. Dr Diamandis is cagey about the finer details of future prizes, but one will offer $10m for the first company to sequence the genetic code of 100 people in a matter of weeks.

A second prize is aimed at kicking America’s self-proclaimed addiction to oil, by spurring research into greener vehicles. “This is a hot button that can effect our reliance on energy from around the world and our production of pollution

The foundation is also planning prizes in nanotechnology and education and is considering a second space prize, which could see the first commercial team to put a person into orbital spaceflight win $50m to $100m.

X-prize foundation