Collaboration at its core

February 20, 2021

Fueled by a shared passion for exploring  ideas across technologies, faculty members from the School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) banded together to focus on nurturing innovative collaborations. They delved into conducting multi-disciplinary research, patent creation, and services. In 2009, it became the seed for the Ateneo Innovation Center (AIC).

AIC has grown significantly over the last decade, helping startups turn their ideas into ventures and connecting them to industry partners, NGOs, and LGUs. Notable projects include a solar-powered clean water system, solar auto-hand washer, off-grid ventilator, electronic sensor, and monitoring system of low-cost phototherapy light system, and EduCloud system. AIC’s domestic wastewater treatment system is also a significant technology.

Clean Water Kit and PVC Pump

Developed because of AIC’s Operations Manager Paul Cabacungan’s 2007 master thesis, the clean water system has been deployed nationwide. Composed of 4 rainwater harvesting drums, filters, and an ultraviolet (UV lamp) that kills the bacteria, the clean water system harvests rainwater and turns it into potable water. This novel technology has helped various flood-affected areas in the country obtain clean water. It has accorded AIC with awards and recognitions like the Bayani ng Kalikasan, added Mr. Carlos Oppus, the center’s director.

As with any technology, the thrill does not end with discovery but the possibilities that come after. 

The most rewarding for me is when our research finds its way to community development. People use the product, providing alternative livelihood and creating businesses, and our graduates are carving their own companies or working in top corporations here and overseas,” said Cabacungan.

Indoor hydroponics and aquaponics

 With travel restrictions and lockdown curtailing on-campus research, AIC’s ‘never give up’ spirit comes into play.

“We have this saying- If we can’t go through the front door, we’ll look for a back door. If there is no back door, we’ll form a window,” he said. “Most of our work is hands-on. At a  certain point, we need to meet face-to-face.”

During these times, innovations and new technology—already integrated into the fabric of modern life—have become our lifeline, helping us connect. Increased engagement with technology has become a norm. For AIC, this translates to virtual meetings, virtual workshops, and virtual presentations like the AIC ROSES (Research on Optical Science, Engineering, and Systems), a weekly Technical Seminar conducted via Zoom. On the side, the researchers have published a lot of SCOPUS-indexed papers and continue writing articles for possible SCOPUS submissions.

AIC’s Cabacungan (leftmost) and Oppus (right) with proponents of the smart Phototherapy Light for Neonatal Jaundice Treatment

As digital interactions continue to prevail, connectivity and collaborations have become a leitmotif. This period of uncertainty has heightened the desire to harness game-changing technologies and strategies. There is a general interest in working together and the pandemic has only amplified that—to solve this shared challenge together. For Oppus and Cababungan, now is also the best time to guide students to hone their critical and creative thinking and become change agents.

 “We need to guide our students in finding their motivation,’ Cabacungan said. “People won’t think of a solution if they are not facing a problem. We want to plant the seed of innovative culture with transdisciplinary teams through the lens of science and technology, from basic to tertiary education.”

To know more about AIC, visit http://ateneo.edu/ls/sose/ateneo-innovation-center/.