Cebu schools sweep top awards at Smart innovation competition

 Student-winners pose with the judges of the 14th SWEEP Awards. Student-winners pose with the judges of the 14th SWEEP Awards.

Two universities from Cebu bested schools from all over the Philippines, garnering top honors at the 14th Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (SWEEP) Innovation and Excellence Awards.

Ten student teams from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao pitched their proposals during the final judging for the SWEEP Awards, a technology competition that aims to provide college students with the platform to create innovative applications that solve consumer pain points. The finalists made their pitch before a live audience, a first in the competition’s 14-year run.

Team Eryl of University of San Carlos won first place or the Huawei Prize for Excellence, with P300,000 cash, for their online tutorial system. Eryl is a mobile platform that will enable students to join online classes or organize one. It will let them select from a teacher pool and negotiate for a schedule and fee.

Taking second place or the Ericsson Prize for Innovation, with P200,000 cash, was Team Sportify of University of San Jose Recoletos. Their web and mobile application will link sports enthusiasts with each other so they can schedule games.

For their mental healthcare app, Team Salvar earned third place or the Wuhan Fiberhome Prize for Transformation, with P100,000 cash. Salvar is an app that will allow users to book appointments with mental healthcare professionals. Therapy sessions can also be done via video chat.

Schools of the top three teams will also receive a digital campus package from Smart Communications and parent company PLDT.

It was a close fight, said PLDT-Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering Mar Tamayo, who was one of the judges during the final pitch. Eryl was chosen, he said, because it tackled an important issue.

“Eryl deals with education and learning, which is what SWEEP is about. But as I said, it’s difficult to judge. The scores were tight, and the entries submitted this year were of high quality and had great potential,” said Tamayo.

Cebu is a fertile ground for innovation, according to Eryl’s project lead Cris Lawrence Militante. “The tech community there is continuously growing,” he said. “All three winners are from Cebu. We have the talent and we cultivate it by joining competitions like SWEEP,” added Patrick Wilbur Aldueso, the team’s faculty mentor.