Meet the winners of Türkiye’s Samsung Innovation Campus who worked for humanity and nature

In Türkiye, four winning projects were announced in the third round of Samsung Innovation Campus held in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Middle East Technical University (METU) and the Turkish Informatics Foundation (TBV) to support young people in applying technology to build a better world.

Aiming to equip disadvantaged and talented youth with technical skills, develop their life skills and offer opportunities of employment, Samsung Innovation Campus disseminates Samsung’s global knowledge on technology while supporting competency-based development of the youth. Contributing to youth employment, the program is focused on developing solutions that are designed to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A jury composed of academics from METU, futurist Ufuk Tarhan, journalist Şelale Kadak, and executives from Samsung, UNDP and TBV selected the projects they judged to be the most creative and innovative, that made the best use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and best served the SDGs. The selection criteria were determined globally by Samsung, which organizes similar activities in more than 30 countries.

“Wildfire Forecasting” project by Hale Afra İriş, Özge Özkaya and Gözde Gözütok won the first place in the competition. Aiming to detect wildfires at early stages and reduce their effects that have a huge toll on the environment and people’s lives, a machine learning model that predicts wildfires with 80 percent accuracy was built. This model will enable warning disaster risk reduction and management teams at the early ages.

Serkan Özdemir’s “SaveWater” project that helps prevent the wastewater from polluting the nature won the second place. By using a deep learning-based AI algorithm, the oxygen level in the wastewater released to nature is predicted. It aims to detect the harm that can occur in advance and create an accelerator effect to take action. The project could also be used by ministries and other public institutions as a mechanism to audit factories.

“F6: Food for Future - Future for Food” by Nisa Nur Kılıç, Selçuk Gürses and Murathan Saygılı was one of the two projects that won the third place. This project aims to predict and reduce food waste, helps us to foresee how much, where, and why food waste will occur in the future by using AI. By focusing on the food crisis, which is one of the biggest problems of today and tomorrow, it aims to create both food for future and future for food.

The other project that won the third place is “DINo-SDGs” by Beyza Taşdemir and Cenk Arda Yılmaz. The tool “Dino-SDGs” predicts with high success rate, which SDGs texts given as input are related to, by using cutting-edge deep learning methods. By offering a classification tool that can be used by individuals and institutions from all segments of the society, from academia to industrial sector, it aims to help achieve the SDGs.

Samsung Innovation Campus is for youths aged 18 to 29 to generate solutions focusing on AI to achieve the SDGs. The program attracted over 5,000 applications in Türkiye. Following a screening process including technical tests and competency-based assessments, 25 successful applicants received 350 hours of training in AI over five months from METU faculty members. Those who completed the course were awarded with certificates.

Participants also competed for financial assistance and coaching support to implement the projects that would demonstrate their skills and experience.

The Sustainable Development Goals Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SDG AI Lab) which supports the work of UN agencies and partners through AI and big data research worked in close coordination with METU to assist on curriculum and technologies. The SDG AI Lab provided training sessions on the use of AI as well as expertise and mentoring support. UNDP also provided participants with training on the SDGs. A team of 15 experts from Samsung and UNDP mentored the youth for project support.

In addition to technical training, senior consultants on human resources delivered training to the participants on recruiting, CV preparation and interview techniques. This year’s training also included techniques for effective communication and presentation so that students could effectively present their projects before the award ceremony.

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