Tech Quest 2019 at TU Delft University

Students at the Aramco and YES Delft Tech Quest 2019

The world is facing tremendous challenges in meeting the dual requirements of providing energy to a growing population while mitigating the effects of carbon emissions. Key to solving this dilemma is the adoption of new technologies and innovative processes driven by new ways of thinking that often come from outside the industry.

This was the sentiment behind Tech Quest, an incentivised technology challenge for TU Delft students designed to showcase their creativity and originality in the field of subsurface surveying, that Aramco held in collaboration with Yes!Delft on November 14th. Yes!Delft is a leading tech incubator in Europe that was established in 2005 as one of the first incubators in the Netherlands. Their mission is to support and empower tech entrepreneurs in bringing their disruptive tech innovation to the market as fast and as best as possible. This is the first time Aramco have worked with an incubator to attract the best young engineering talent in Europe.

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"The reason we developed this event was twofold. First to reach out and connect with the next generation as we believe they are the key to unlocking the technologies that we require to overcome our future challenges. Secondly, we wanted to challenge the current best practices and to develop innovative ideas that deviate from the traditional paths."

Roald van Borselen, Chief Representative at Aramco Global Research Center, Delft

At Tech Quest, teams of students from TU Delft, one of the top technical universities in the world and leaders in the development of seismic and non-seismic exploration methods, were introduced to the challenges facing subsurface surveying by experts from the industry; explaining the key parameters such as quality of acquired data, cost, safety, logistics and environmental impact.

Armed with that information, teams were set a challenge to bring innovative ideas to the problem. Exploring the applications of new 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), students were challenged to look for ways of how Autonomous and Intelligent systems for aerial and terrestrial applications, as well as Artificial Intelligence and new sensoring systems could be utilised. The solutions presented by the teams at the end of the event showed that students took this challenge to heart, coming up with new applications and ideas that could have a significant impact on the future of subsurface surveying.

Subsurface surveys are a vital tool to help understand what lies beneath the earth's surface without drilling or tunnelling. The technology has a myriad of applications from ensuring that dams, bridges and tunnels are safe to helping scientists understand and predict earthquakes. The winners of the challenge, Team Silt, presented an innovative approach to detecting underground caves by sending different resonance frequencies into the earth, and monitoring returning frequencies to identify holes and caves underground.

The prize was €2,000 along with entry to Co-Lab, a half-day workshop on entrepreneurship to meet start-up leaders, as well as an hours coaching with a YES!Delft team member. This offers students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand their entrepreneurial skillset and set them on a path towards future innovations. Talal Al-Marri, President of Aramco Europe, commended the students for their innovations and their commitment to studies within an inspiring speech to the attending students, referencing their importance in driving the industry forward.

"Students at universities such as TUDelft learn about the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and geoscience," Roald van Borselen added. "For us it is important that we connect with that talent and tap into these new ideas. The students we met at this event were able to think outside the box and bring new ideas to the industry and drive the new technologies that we need. As an industry we face tremendous challenges and events like this, along with our summer internships and hosting student visits, allows us to build these vital relationships."

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