A project to detect toxins in crops and a way for charities to advertise through online games were two UCL Engineering projects funded by the public last week. At Focus on the Positive, run by the UCL Public Engagement Unit, researchers from UCL’s Built Environment, Maths and Physical Sciences, and Engineering faculties propose an idea that will do some good in the world. Then the audience, aided by a professional comedian compère, vote on who should get the ticket money from the night, topped up by a donation from the EPSRC.
The event had over 120 attendees and featured an idea from the Bartlett to create a dynamic map of areas associated with well-being, and a London Centre for Nanotechnology researcher pitching an awareness campaign for the proper use of antibiotics. However the audience’s pick went to Gibril Kallon from UCL Medical Physics and Eddie Capstick of UCL Interaction Centre, who received the first and second prizes of £2,000 and £1,000/
Gibril Kallon (3rd year Medical Physics BSc) won support for his project to develop a simple, light-based system to detect carcinogenic toxins in food. The presence of these aflatoxins in crops in Western Africa is leading to high levels of liver cancer in the area. However, the bacteria that generate the dangerous compound is revealed under UV light, and so Mr Kallon will be working to develop a prototype light installation which will be suitable for use by farming communities in Sierra Leone. Gibril said of his win:
“I feel privileged; it was a fantastic night! Initially I was skeptical; I had only recently stumbled upon the idea and chosen to incorporate it in my project, so it felt underdeveloped. After speaking to the event organisers and my supervisors I gained more confidence. The deadline gave me something to work towards, and Gary and Kate (both previous participants in Focus on the Positive) supported me all the way through. I’d definitely recommend it for any physical sciences and engineering students.
So many ideas, which to us seem basic, can really make a difference in the world. The public are hungry for good ideas in such a problematic world climate.”
Second prize of £1,000 also went to a student from UCL Engineering. Eddie Capstick is studying a part-time PhD on the social aspects of computer gaming, within UCL’s Interaction Centre (UCLIC). His idea is to build a non-profit advertising platform which can ‘wrap-around’ any online game or app, allowing users to interact with a sponsor and donate money to the charity of their choice. The prize will allow Mr Capstick to build a proof of concept for this model that can be presented to investors. The prototype will highlight how the user will receive the money, and how easily they will give it to charity. It will also show why advertisers and users alike will want to continue to use the Charity Advertising Platform (C.A.P.) Mr Capstick hopes that his idea will make seeing adverts a worthwhile experience.
Eddie gave us his views on the event:
“Anyone with an idea for how to change the world should get involved in the ‘Focus on the Positive’ project. It’s a great way of solidifying your thoughts into something manageable, and get great feedback from the audience on the night. Many people offered to help, and others just loved the concept, which gives me great confidence for the future!”