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DIGIWATER - Digitalisation of water industry by innovative graduate water education

DIGIWATER - Digitalisation of water industry by innovative graduate water education

DIGIWATER brings together six universities, six SMEs and a European umbrella organisation for water, consolidating the lessons learned from decades-long experience in the field. The ambition is to develop innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to teach and stimulate entrepreneurial skills contributing to reduce the knowledge gap between professionals in the water sector and enabling faster uptake of innovations. Results from extensive stakeholder analysis will form iteratively improving models for teaching and learning approaches that will also be shared beyond the project partners. During the project, 2 Innovation Camps took place in Leuven, Belgium and Istanbul, Turkey

DIGIWATER Innovation Camps

As part of the ERASMUS+ project DIGIWATER, the first Innovation Camp was organised in Leuven on the 4-7 October 2022. Students from our six partner universities (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Technical University of Applied Sciences Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Istabul Technical University, University of Cyprus, KU Leuven, and University of Galati), along with project partner’s staff members, participated in the Innovation Camp. Its main objective is to strengthen the innovation capacity of the water industry and to improve social engagement of universities educating water specialists. The Camp was focused on IoT & Big Data, and included lectures, workshops, brainstorming sessions and pitches. After registration and meeting on the first day of the camp, Prof. Patrick Willems, Full professor in Urban and River Hydrology and Hydraulics KU Leuven, gave the keynote lecture “Water challenges in Flanders and Europe”. Then Postdoctoral Engineer and General Manager of Sumaqua Dr. Vincent Wolfs created a vision for the digitalization of the water sector for students with his presentation titled “Drought forecasting with AI models”. In the brainstorming session, all participants were divided into three groups. We tried to produce innovative approaches to this crucial question: “How can digital technology tackle floods, water scarcity and poor water quality?” The second day of the camp, which was very active with a presentation titled “Introduction and demonstration of a virtual tour” by Katharina Pilar von Pilchau, M. Engineer in Department of Environmental Engineering and Applied Science, THOWL. Followed by 4 short courses, two online and two in-person, that served as an introduction to IoT, Big Data and Cyber Security. Daan Buekenhout, Research Associate at KU Leuven and Prof. Harsha Ratnaweera, our project coordinator and Professor in Water and Wastewater Technology at the Faculty of Sciences and Technology NMBU, made in-person presentations.

The students were divided into 6 groups of 2-3 people and started work on their innovative ideas for the water industry, using the Innovation Canvas Model (ICM), a framework for developing and detailing innovative ideas. We closed the day with an excursion to an industrial brewery, where we learned about their water processes. On the third day of the camp, Prof. Marian Barbu, Automatic Control in UGAL, gave a course on “Test Platform WWTP”, after which the students continued work on their group assignment. After delicious lunch sandwiches, we had an inter-group consultation. At this meeting, students received feedback from the coordinators about their presentations. Then we had a staff meeting and reviewed all work packages. The date of the second Innovation Camp to be held in Istanbul, Turkey was set. After the program, we had a very enjoyable dinner with the staff and students under the sponsorship of SumAqua. On the last day of the camp, students presented their innovative approaches.

Experts from our project and KU Leuven took part in the jury. Jury members rated the presentations. At the end of the scoring, two teams were selected as the best presentation. Daan Buekenhout and Kato Schoeters presented a small gift to these successful two teams. We congratulate all participating students for their outstanding efforts. This camp was organized by Ir. Daan Buekenhout and Prof. Patrick Willems from KU Leuven and Dr. Vincent Wolfs and Ir. Kato Schoeters from SumAqua.

The second DIGIWATER Innovation Camp took place in Istanbul on the 15-17 March 2023. The focus of the 3-day Istanbul innovation camp, hosted by ITU – MEMTEK Research Center and MEMSIS was on the management of natural and man-made catastrophes in the water sector using digital concepts. This is particularly relevant given the recent earthquakes in Turkey, as well as the global increase in cybersecurity attacks. Enver Ozdemir, professor at the Informatics Institute at ITU, Adnan Baykal, the CEO and Co-founder of CyberWA, Inc. (USA), Prof. Harsha Ratnaweera (NMBU – Norwegian University of Life Sciences (project coordinator)), and Assoc. Prof. Ismail Dabanli, of the department of civil engineering at ITU, offered in-depth lectures on camp topics. Dr. Vincent Wolfs, director of SumAqua, presented 5 prototypes that were created previously during the first Innovation Camp in Leuven. Assoc. Prof. Zakhar Maletskyi (NMBU) discussed the process and results to be expected from an Innovation Camp. The brainstorming session organized as a World Café, a crucial component of the camp, was then guided by him using Group Map. Prof. Pierre Berube, of the department of civil engineering at UBC-CA, attended as an observer at the camp and as chair at the “Identification/early warning system” table. The co-chairs were Laurentiu Luca (SmarTech Automation), and Prof. Vahid Vatanpour (Kharazmi University & ITU). The “cyber-attacks” table was led by Dr. Vincent Wolfs, with Veronica Jascanu (SmarTech Automation), and Assoc. Prof. Kubra UlucanAltuntas (ITU) serving as co-chairs. Dr. Selda Murat Hocaoglu is the chair of the third opinion table on “response options”, while the co-chairs are project partners Katharina Pilar von Pilchau (TH-OWL) and Dr. Abhilash Nair (DOSCON AS) did it. Sevde Korkut, Ph.D. researcher at ITU-MEMTEK, then gave a quick explanation on the Innovation Canvas Model. On the second day, participants had four short lectures on digitalization of the water sector. Dr. Abhilash Nair (DOSCON AS) explained the digital tools in the water sector while Emel Tufekci (Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration-ISKI) focused on applications in Turkey of the same topic.

Then, Dr. Sebnem Koyunluoglu Aynur and Dr. Cihangir Aydöner gave a short lecture together about one of case studies of SMART4ENV Horizon Europe Project, regarding the assessment of soil organic carbon and moisture content using remote sensing. Dr. Katharina Pilar von Pilchau and Alexandra Schäfer from TH-OWL discussed a co-creative method for new solutions in water management using Lego. After stakeholder presentations, students first came up with solutions to cybersecurity issues in brainstorming sessions. Then, using the Innovation Canvas Model, the students went on to further develop and organize their ideas. The challenge groups were supported by several ITU-MEMTEK students who were present. After this, students further detailed and structured their ideas based on an Innovation Canvas Model. Several ITU-MEMTEK students attended and supported the challenge groups. To conclude the camp, students pitched their ideas in front of an international jury. We congratulate all participating students for their outstanding efforts. Using the jury’s feedback, students further elaborated their ideas by creating prototypes in the months after the Innovation Camp. The prototyping cycle was concluded by demo-casing the novel prototypes in end-user environments. You can learn more on the official website: https://waterharmony.net/projects/digiwater2/


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