Three HCC students win global top prize at Intel AI global competition

Oct 3, 2022

(From left to right) Serr Brown, Dina Marie Stager and Ryan Galbraith


A three-student team from Houston Community College Southwest has won the top prize at the Intel AI Global Impact Festival in San Jose, California.

The annual festival gathers next-generation technologists, future developers, teachers and policymakers to learn and share innovations and impacts of artificial intelligence, according to Intel Corporation, an education partner of HCC’s AI program.

The HCC team of Serr Brown, Dina Marie Stager and Ryan Galbraith competed against more than 1,000 student entries from 25 nations. They won the top award in the 18-and-older age group with their entry, Indoor Industrial Safety Program. The project utilizes AI and digital mapping to increase safety in indoor workplaces.

The HCC trio’s entry centered on a high-performance drone equipped with thermal, infrared and Lidar (light detection and ranging) technology deployed within an indoor industrial site. In just 30 minutes, it uses AI-generated coordinates to scan the floor of a site to create a three-dimensional digital replica of the area. The drone typically flies just a foot below the ceiling’s lights to capture required data.

“It’s no small feat,” said Dr. G. Brown, HCC AI program coordinator. “It’s difficult to get coordinate data indoors. The problem was solved by the students by using AI to provide the drone with coordinates and accuracy needed to build a 3D model.”

The technology can aid companies learn about equipment and building layouts before additions or improvements are made, among myriad other applications.

The trio brainstormed for over three months to develop the project, painstakingly envisioning just how to use their AI knowledge and skills to make their drone capable of success.

“We are honored to represent HCC and to be selected as a global competition winner,” Galbraith said. “We are thankful for the AI and AR-VR (augmented reality and virtual reality) training from HCC that prepared us to succeed.”

Serr Brown, a correctional officer advancing his academic goals at HCC, is passionate about AI. “I believe that AI has the potential to change the world for the better, and I am excited to be part of the field,” he said. “I am looking forward to learning more about AI and how it can be used to improve the lives of people across the world.”

As part of the team, Stager is now the first woman to receive the Intel festival top prize. She earned her associate degrees in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence from HCC and has taken on additional Massachusetts Institution of Technology courses to augment her computer science.

Each winner receives a $5,000 prize, an Intel-powered laptop and mentorship opportunities.

Dr. Madeline Burillo-Hopkins, president of HCC Southwest and HCC vice chancellor of Workforce Instruction, said the students’ win is a testament to the college’s quality faculty and effective instruction.

“Our students not only learn the technical skills of AI and machine learning, but also the solutions that they can design as developers to tackle real-world problems,” she said. “I could not be more proud of these students and how wonderfully they have represented HCC.”

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