For the 18th time, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the VDE technology association are organising the unique »Invent a Chip« competition for young technological talent. More than 1,600 students from grades eight to thirteen of general and vocational schools responded to the call, with 36 percent of them girls. In the race for one of the coveted workshop places at the Institute for Microelectronic Systems (IMS) at Leibniz Universität Hannover, the jury opted for exciting microchip applications: They are intended to make orientation easier for blind people, soon warn them of heavy snow loads on roofs, ensure that medicines are dispensed safely, control intelligent lamps or regulate access as a smart cat flap with mouse recognition at the entrance to the house.
Learning chip design with professionals
»The students are still very young and are starting with chip design. This is something special and offers the opportunity to actively participate in shaping technological progress«, explains Ansgar Hinz, Chairman of the VDE Executive Board. Throughout Germany, 3,000 schools were invited to participate. The ten best projects made it into the practical phase of the competition. »On campus, the teams learn how to read sensors, control actuators and handle freely programmable logic gates«, Hinz continues. They will work on their ideas with the support of professionals until the beginning of September. The best microchip applications will be presented to the public on October 28 at the Microsystems Technology Congress (Mikrosystemtechnik-Kongress) in Berlin and awarded prizes at the awards ceremony.
Over the next few months, Vivien Hecht (16) and Jasmin Koopmann (16) from the Franziskusgymnasium in Lingen will be able to determine whether stress in a full family bathroom is a thing of the past with microchips. They are now learning the necessary technical know-how for their first own microchip. »At the touch of a button, all family members are directly informed about the status of the bathroom, without the person who wants to go to the bathroom having to inform each one individually«, they describe their idea. For Finn Liebner (15) from the Marie-Curie Gymnasium in Kirchzarten, data transmission by light is the focus of his new chip application. Sebastian Fritsch (16), Simon Klier (16), Christian Künzle (17) and Jan-Niklas Weghorn (16) from Hardenberg Gymnasium in Fürth would like to improve automatic image recognition. »This makes it possible, for example, to realize a robot that collects garbage«, the team describes.
Cash prizes up to 3000 euros
At the end of October, the experts from business, science and politics will decide which microchips will lead the field. In addition to attractive cash prizes of up to 3,000 euros, the winners in the finals will be admitted to the selection process for a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes), various contacts to industry and universities, and the presentation of their own projects at trade fairs and technology events. »Invent a Chip« is supported by numerous sponsors in the current competition round: Bosch, Cologne Chip, Globalfoundries, Infineon, Mentor Graphics, Siemens, DKE Deutsche Kommission Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik in DIN and VDE.