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Drone alternative for CSULB parking enforcement

Stellar Aerial Robotics wins top prize at the 2017 Innovation Challenge.

Thursday%2C+April+6%2C+2017+-+%0AInnovation+Challenge+Awards%2C+put+on+by+the+colleges+of+Engineering%2C+Business+Administration%2C+and+the+Arts%2C+finalists+in+the+Innovation+Challenge+pitch+their+business+ideas+to+a+panel+of+judges.+Shot+the+Pointe+inside+at+California+State+University%2C+Long+Beach.%0A%0AMandatory+Credit%3A+Sean+DuFrene+%2F+Photographer%0AMarketing+and+Communications%0ACalifornia+State+University%2C+Long+Beach
Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 
Innovation Challenge Awards, put on by the colleges of Engineering, Business Administration, and the Arts, finalists in the Innovation Challenge pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. Shot the Pointe inside at California State University, Long Beach.

Mandatory Credit: Sean DuFrene / Photographer
Marketing and Communications
California State University, Long Beach

Thursday, April 6, 2017 - Innovation Challenge Awards, put on by the colleges of Engineering, Business Administration, and the Arts, finalists in the Innovation Challenge pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. Shot the Pointe inside at California State University, Long Beach. Mandatory Credit: Sean DuFrene / Photographer Marketing and Communications California State University, Long Beach

Sean DuFrene

Sean DuFrene

Thursday, April 6, 2017 - Innovation Challenge Awards, put on by the colleges of Engineering, Business Administration, and the Arts, finalists in the Innovation Challenge pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. Shot the Pointe inside at California State University, Long Beach. Mandatory Credit: Sean DuFrene / Photographer Marketing and Communications California State University, Long Beach

Connie Ojeda, Staff Writer

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Camping out in an engineering classroom until midnight the night before competition was worth the dedication for the Stellar Aerial Robotics team, which won a $50,000 prize April 6 at Cal State Long Beach’s 2017 Innovation Challenge, for the creation of a license-plate recognition drone.

Represented by seven members of the 23-person team, STAR captured the attention of a panel of judges through the presentation of their innovative product, designed to reduce traffic interference caused by parking enforcement when issuing tickets at local colleges.

Team founder and junior aerospace major Donald Truong said he initially came up with the idea of creating the license-plate recognition drone after being made late to an exam by slow-moving parking enforcement.

“If you go down the road and go very slow and then have to scan the cars very slowly, you interfere with student traffic,” said Truong as he explained the current ticketing process. “I feel like there are things they can do more efficiently.”

Being that the panel of judges agreed with STAR’s goal toward improved efficiency, the team, which was up against three others, walked away with a top prize of $40,000 in services for space, marketing, legal and accounting services, and $10,000 in seed funding meant for the start-up of the business.

Grace Ji, a 21-year-old business management major whose focus was the manufacturing and operations of the drone, said she did not anticipate the win.

“We were all in shock, we couldn’t believe it.” said Ji, leader of the logistics group. “I’m blessed for the opportunity and to be a part of this team.”

Although the presentation of such a product proved to be successful at the Innovation Challenge, creating a license-plate recognition drone was quite a challenge, as it required a lot of dedication and a specialization across fields.

Computer science and finance major Elizabeth Him, who is also the marketing director for STAR, said, “The night before the ceremony the whole team camped out in an engineering building until midnight to help Donald and I rehearse our presentation.”

Him, who presented along side of Truong, drafted a business plan and conducted market research which received positive feedback from Cal State University Fullerton, Cal State University Dominguez Hills, Fullerton College, El Camino College, UC Irvine, and ultimately CSULB, their target audience for the project.

Aside from Him, Caitlin Rubia, also a computer science major, helped Truong with the presentation by giving feedback and advice when answering judge’s questions during the innovation challenge.

Rubia can also be credited for the creation of the abbreviated version of the team name, which Truong initially created.

Other team leaders include: Computer science major Patricia Echual, 21, who was in charge of coding and designing the software necessary for the processing of images on the drone’s camera; Inna Echual, 21, an electrical engineering major, who designed the component of the flight controller; Paul Delgado, 22, a mechanical engineering major, in charge of designing the drones controller, frame and housing; and  Ryan Chu, an animation major, in charge of directing the animation short film for the presentation.

Chu, the newest addition to the team, said he and Amro Emghaoech joined STAR two weeks ago after seeing an advertisement seeking the help of experienced animators.

“What I planned to do with the animation project was to entertain the audience, alleviating the professional tension, so they could at least enjoy what they were watching, and at the same time see what the teams product can do,” Chu said.

Despite being eager to begin business and reach out to potential consumers, STAR’s future projections are not set in stone yet.

Truong said the team is still working with the school of business to complete the official prototype prior to beginning its business ventures later in 2017.

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