Intelligent Ironman Creativity Contest 2018 – Team India
"A Journey across Taipei”
A report by Team MGR I3 – Incredible Indian Innovators
On July 23rd 2018, Six students and Two Professors (Includes an International Judge Dr. Rajeswary Hari and a Mentor for our team Dr. J. Arun Kumar) from Dr. MGR Educational & Research Institute, India, embarked on a journey to Taipei City in Taiwan. We flew to this beautiful country to participate in the Intelligent Ironman Creativity Contest (IICC) 2018. IICC 2018 was organised by the Educational Ministry of Taiwan and National Taiwan University, and Hosted by Shih Hsin University.
Taipei is the most beautiful, friendly and fun-filled city we have ever seen. The sights, the people, the food and the infrastructure all come together perfectly to create an unforgettable experience for tourists.
In this article, I will attempt to recapture the eight memorable days we spent in Taipei, including our (Students) experience at IICC 2018.
After our flight landed at the Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, we were picked up by the dedicated organisers of IICC 2018 and thus our adventure began. Even during the ride from the airport to our dorms, we bore witness to some amazing architecture and even caught our first glimpse of Taipei 101. Needless to say, we were filled with awe and joy.
One of the first places we visited after arrival was the Jingmei night market, where we were treated to fragrant food and lovely sights. The next day, we went to the Taipei Main Station, which is the hub of all MRT and HSR services. The architecture is simply amazing here. To our surprise, we found an entire mall constructed under the main station. The Zhongshan Metro Mall is an incredible shopping and fun centre located underground. Exploring it was a joy and we found many great stores and eateries. A large part of the mall was a number of arcades and game stores that were filled with people, and we had a ton of fun playing the various claw machines and Gacha machines. After this, We procured the affordable 24-hour card for the Taipei MRT from the Main Station.
Next, we visited the veritable Chiang-Ki Shek Memorial Hall. CKS hall is one of the most prominent and easily recognizable historical sites in the world, and witnessing it in person was truly a breath-taking experience. The change of Guard too, was spectacular. We stayed here for a long time, and the Hall looked even more vibrant in the evening lights. We learnt much about the history of this great historical figure, including the fact that there are exactly 89 steps leading up to the entrance of the Hall, which was also the age of Chiang-Ki Shek when he passed away. Even the architecture here has a story and its own history.
We had our first experience with the MRT the next day, as we travelled on the Brown line – Red line route to Elephant Mountain. The MRT experience in Taipei is truly unique and a joy to ride on, everytime. We especially appreciated the cleanliness, the punctuality, and the fact that all sign boards and announcements were in English as well. Getting around Taipei in the MRT became second-nature to us immediately. From our dorms in Wenshan District, we were able to reach any part of the city through the nearby MRT, and it rarely took us more than 30 minutes.
Climbing Elephant Mountain was an adventure to remember. Surrounded by forests and guided by many helpful Taiwanese people, we scaled the steps to the Photography deck of the Mountain. When we reached there, we were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime view of Taipei city which none of us will ever forget. Right in front of us, Taipei 101 was in full view. The districts stretched before us like an endless sea. It was every photographer’s dream, and we enjoyed a quick packed lunch from this vantage point. After the climb down, a cool drink of Aiyu in Pomelo and Pineapple flavours refreshed us immediately.
The next day, we were treated to a tour of the Maokong Gondola by the organizers of IICC 2018. The dizzying heights of the cable cars enabled us to take in the beautiful landscape below. We fraternized with the rest of the international teams participating in IICC. Later, we experienced traditional Taiwanese Tea and had a wonderful lunch. This was a truly unforgettable day.
On the same day, IICC 2018 began. We participated in the Team Jubilation round after the opening ceremony. Seeing the other teams perform made us nervous! Our own performance was a humorous take on our journey to IICC, and we were glad to be well-received by the organizers and contestants. After this, we were treated to a delicious dinner banquet.
On the morning of July 27, the 72-hour isolation began in earnest. This is the main draw of the competition. Each team was placed in a separate room and given a space in which they were tasked to build an innovative prototype within 72 continuous hours. This format truly tests every aspect of a student – Innovation, creativity, dedication, perseverance and intelligence.
The topic on which we were tasked to create our prototype was "Wings”. Humanity has always tried to emulate birds and their ability to fly. Our challenge was to create a flying prototype, capable of flight on its own. Additionally, we had to create a physical presentation on the mythical, religious, cultural and literature-based aspects of wings and flight.
In order to procure materials with which to build our prototype, we had to complete ‘tasks’. This is the other important part of IICC. Each task is a completely self-contained 45-60 minute long challenge which must be completed by the whole team. Based on our performance during the tasks, we were awarded points, which we used to purchase materials for our prototype.
Once such memorable task was named, "Dental Clinic”. The objective of this task was to clean a huge papier-Mache human mouth by placing ‘fillings’ in all the teeth. The ‘fillings’ were actually ping pong balls which were labelled with answers. Our task was to solve questions based on medicine and sports, and thus find the corresponding ping pong ball to drop into the corresponding tooth, using a specially made crane. Every part of the task, from finding the solution to questions, to determining the correct ping pong balls, to dropping the ball in the tooth using the crane, was both extremely fun and also unforgiving. We managed to complete this task successfully and scored a good number of points. We were awe-struck by the creativity of this challenge, as well as every other task that we attempted.
In all, our team, MGR I3 managed to score around 10,000 points after completing many tasks. We used these points to purchase different materials such as motors, batteries and other electronic components, cardboard, charts and other art supplies.
IICC really put our time management and innovation skills to the test. At the same time, it was a lot of fun to do tasks and see our score go up and compare that with the progress of other teams.
One aspect of the contest that we cannot forget to mention are the ‘Angels’. The concept of Angels really brings together the whole competition. For the entire 72-hours we spent, we were always accompanied by a rotating set of Angels. Our Angels used to bring us the materials from the Virtual Store, bring our meals and in general took care of us during those 72 hours. But more importantly, they were extremely friendly and helpful people who became our great friends. We still remember our Angels fondly and it must be said that they brought the contest together.
So, with all the rules laid before us, we had only one thing to do; create the prototype and the presentation. Work began, and we hardly slept for 72 hours as we built our Smart City, fabricated our flying prototype and performed numerous tasks. It was a true test of our mettle, and in the end we finally had a complete model of our Smart City. Our prototype was dubbed the WASP – Wilfully Autonomous Skating Plane. Along with these two elements, we also had the physical presentation to prepare, which we decided to make in the form of charts representing the various fields of human pursuit – myth, religion, culture, art, and literature.
72 hours passed almost instantly, and before we knew it, the time had come for the final presentation. Our presentation was divided into two parts – one based on the Human Arts, and the other Technical. We were nervous, but we overcame that and completed the presentation twice, to two different panels of international judges.
Soon, we were whisked away to the closing ceremony, where we had a great time. After a memorable and nostalgic song by the organizers, IICC 2018 came to a close. Sadness filled our hearts as we returned to our dorms for the last time.
We spent our final night in Taipei in the most fitting way possible – At the top of Taipei 101. This magnificent structure can be seen from anywhere in Taipei city, and from its highest floor, the entire city is laid before one’s eyes. The amazing landscape, architecture and beauty were truly breath-taking.
Thus, our journey came to an end. As we boarded our flight back to Chennai, our minds and hearts were filled with thoughts of Taiwan, its immense landscapes, wonderful architecture, ultra-flexible transport infrastructure and of course, it’s People.
Yes, the people. We remember being greeted as soon as we entered any store. We remember the helpfulness of the various locals who helped us during our climb of Elephant Mountain. We remember the kindness of the various workers in the Taipei MRT, as well as the travellers themselves. We remember the organisers and Angels, who were so friendly to us. Taipei is known as the "Friendliest City in the World”, and it deserves to be.
IICC is an incredible undertaking – not only because it is the only international competition of this scale, but also because its organizers are intrinsically aware of how to bring out the talents of the competing teams while also keeping it fun and friendly. As such, the Intelligent Ironman Creativity Contest is a beacon of excellence in competitive competitions around the world. It has been going strong for 16 years, and we believe and hope that it will go on for many, many years to come.
The staff of National Taiwan University and Shih Hsin University are incredibly hard-working and magnanimous. They too, spent the 72 hours awake and working. Another memorable aspect is that most of the organization was done by college students. Their talent and dedication is something to be admired. We appreciate and thank all of the organisers sincerely.
As a final note, we would like to thank Dr. MGR Educational and Research Institute, and our dynamic and honourable President for his constant support and patronage. We also thank Dr. Charles Li, Director General of the Taiwan Embassy for his support. We thank Professor Ko-Fei Liu of National Taiwan University for all his help before and during the contest. We shall cherish our sweet memories of Taiwan for the rest of our lives.
Photos of our Trip to Taiwan IICC 2018