Centennial students win big at Thales Innovation Championship

Picture of Centennial College Thales Innovation Championship winners

Two student teams from Centennial College displayed their technical expertise by winning first and second place in the Thales Innovation Championship, held at Ryerson University on November 25. The competition, sponsored by the Thales Group, gives students an opportunity to engage in real-world problems that businesses face every day and challenges them to come up with innovative ways of solving them.

This year’s inaugural competition, which included teams from Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier University, Lambton College, as well as Centennial College, focused on cybersecurity as it pertains to the emerging Internet of Things (IoT). The challenge required each team to come up with an innovative solution that solves a theoretical customer problem, create an eight-minute presentation and then pitch the idea to a panel of industry representatives.

Students Adrian Castillo, Asma Anika, Jacob Hoang and Yashkumar Mashruwala of Centennial’s Bachelor of Information Technology – Computer and Communication Networks four-year degree program won the competition with their creative proposal. The team shared $20,000 in first-place award money provided by Thales.

Roman Kovtunovych, Gilbert Ramirez, Ikshita Saray and Ramneek Singh of Centennial’s Computer Systems Technology – Networking three-year diploma program earned a second-place finish for their IoT solution. The team members divided $10,000 in prize money.

“This is a true testament to the strength of our teams’ diversity, applied knowledge and ability to thrive and excel in challenging times,” says Dr. Predrag Pesikan, Chair of the Information and Communication Engineering Technology department of Centennial’s School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science. “It also highlights the commitment and dedication to student success shown by our teams’ faculty, Dr. Ali Al-Rubaie and Dr. Marjan Zandi.”

The contest incorporates genuine industry problems. Many of the IoT devices, such as Internet-connected home thermostats, come with minimal or no security features. They can contain some malware that may not be detected during the initial installation, and can only be detected if triggered. Students had to prepare a solution that would prevent the malicious packets from entering the local area network (LAN). Students created an IoT portal, which is a combination of best practices with emerging technologies in the IoT security industry embedded within a single device.

The winning students will be invited by the Thales Group to a company visit, lunch and an awards presentation. Thales Group is a French multinational technology company that designs and builds electrical systems, and provides high-tech solutions for the aerospace, defense, transportation and security markets.

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