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Three telecommunications students win third place in prestigious antenna competition

The competition was held during an international lecture in Boston.

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Iñigo Cortés, first on the left; Fátima Villa, third; and Álvaro Urain, fifth, form the team of Tecnun.
PHOTO: Courtesy
30/08/18 12:10 Communication Service

Telecommunications students Fátima Villa, Iñigo Cortés and Álvaro Urain TecnunFatima Villa, Iñigo Cortés and Álvaro Urain recently entered the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society (AP-S) Student Design Contest, a prestigious international student competition organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. The competition was held in July in Boston (USA), and the School's students won third place. Or, as they themselves point out, "we were the first in Europe and Asia", as they only had the American universities of Michigan State University and the University of Alabama in front of them.

The competition was a real treasure hunt. In this case the treasure was a wireless transmitter hidden in a room and the teams had to design and build an original receiver to locate it from the signal emitted by the transmitter.

Before the teams were accepted, they had to propose an original and attractive idea. A total of six international proposals qualified for the Boston competition in front of expert judges in Antennas and Propagation. The team from Tecnun was one of the six finalists and is formed by three Basque students: Fátima Villa (coordinator of the group and currently studying for a master's degree in Telecommunication Engineering), Iñigo Cortés (who has recently completed a master's degree in Telecommunication Engineering), and Álvaro Urain (student at Degree in Communications Electronics), under the supervision of professors from Tecnun, Daniel Valderas and Héctor Solar.


For all the teams it was a challenging experience, but for Tecnun it was especially so. The San Sebastian team built a receiver from scratch with a state-of-the-art antenna, while the other five finalists bought commercial receivers and focused only on the design of the antenna. "So, from September last year until July 2018, the team encountered many challenges along the way: the development of the system from scratch, combining their studies/work with the development of the project, working remotely as part of the team was in Germany, solving unexpected technical problems, etc.," assess Fátima Villa, Iñigo Cortés and Álvaro Urain.

However, the effort and will of the team led them to maintain the excitement until the end of that unique adventure. Even while in the United States, they continued to work on their proposal. Their perseverance was such that they entered the most prestigious engineering university in the world, MIT, in search of financial aid and that allowed them to work one morning in one of its laboratories.

Despite all that effort and work, on the day of the treasure hunt, the Tecnun team, who called themselves 'Triple-T', had their doubts. The other teams looked very good and had come up with very sophisticated systems. But, the defense before the judges was satisfactory, and best of all, they managed to find the treasure.

To culminate that adventure, the best part was still to come, the submission awards ceremony. The San Sebastian team did not have high expectations due to the high level of the other teams. However, after the final evaluation , they got the third place place. In disbelief, the Triple-T team from Tecnun went up to the podium to collect their diplomas. And up there, they realized that, in that treasure hunt, the hidden treasure was really the recognition of their great perseverance and hard work.

What's next? Currently, the team wants to continue with project and focus on cutting-edge topics such as indoor localization, smart home systems, Industry 4.0, etc. "Interested students from the University of Navarra will be part of the team and it will be a great opportunity to exploit all the knowledge obtained at the university", conclude the members of the 'Triple-T'.

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