News Release

Undergrads Dream with QUALCOMM Chips

San Diego, CA, October 18, 2007 -- The biggest challenge for one of the four winners of last weekend's QUALCOMM Innovator Challenge came at a surprising moment: after the team won first prize and $5,000 in the engineering design contest.

Over the phone, freshman David Wong -- who has been away from home for just over a month -- struggled to convince his parents that he had really won $1,250 dollars and that he needed his social security number so he could fill out the necessary tax-related paperwork to get his cut of the $5,000. Money the team won for their ideas for what is possible with QUALCOMM’s new ultra powerful chip set for mobile devices, called Snapdragon.

After some telephone coaxing by both Wong and a UCSD staff member managing the event, David’s parents decided it was not a scam and was in fact safe to give their son his social security number.

Voracious Savants on phone
The Voracious Savants. On the right, David Wong is on the phone with his parents, trying to get his social security number. From left to right: David Swartz, Andrew Smith, Aaron Swartz and David Wong.

Wong and the rest of the team call themselves the Voracious Savants. In response to QUALCOMM’s challenge, the Voracious Savants envisioned a portable electronic device that looks like a book and has two screens. They named it BookPal. You could watch TV while you work scribble answers to math problems on the second screen which – at that moment – would serve as an electronic notebook. 

With BookPal, you can also page through hundreds of pounds of text books without carrying them around, watch online videos, cruise the Internet and make phone calls. Turn BookPal on its side and you can start typing as if it were a laptop.

Voracious Savants with check
The Voracious Savants present BookPal. Photo credit: Chris Morrow

The Voracious Savants are all freshman. The team consists of two mechanical engineering majors (Aaron Swartz, David Swartz), an electrical engineering major (Andrew Smith) and David Wong who has not yet declared a major. The Swartz brothers and Smith are high school friends from La Costa Canyon high school in Carlsbad.  

Second prize and $3,000 went to another all-freshman team: Athena. The four bioengineering majors (Jasminé Nourblin, Jonathan Reuter, Rachel Nguyen and Vincent Wong) envisioned a portable electronic device with a screen that rolls up and fits in your pocket when you’re not using it. Unroll the screen when you want to watch Internet videos or fulfill any computing, communication or entertainment need that requires a large screen.

Athena second place
Athena -- a team that likes to laugh -- took home second prize for their roll up computer screen.

Athena created a fun video for their presentation (requires a Facebook account).

Third prize and $2,000 went to team Greek Fire – designers of “MediBoard.” This digital clipboard is designed to help doctors and other health care professionals work together better – both within the same hospital and across the world. MediBoard will also help doctors share their medical expertise and provide better support to colleagues working in areas with little or no medical infrastructure.

Greek Fire is made up of five seniors: Yoichi Shiga (aerospace engineering), Peter Schoonmaker (bioengineering), Nimit Pandya (electrical engineering), Sammy Lee (electrical engineering) and Steve Culbertson (cognitive science).

Greek Fire 3rd place
Greek Fire heads to the stage to collect their award.

The event was organized by the Jacobs School’s Corporate Affiliates Program and QUALCOMM. Luis Pineda, a UCSD alumnus who majored in electrical engineering and is now a senior vice president of marketing and product management for QUALCOMM CDMA Technologies served as one of the QUALCOMM judges. Pineda also presented the giant check to the Voracious Savants and suggested that all the participants consider QUALCOMM when they enter the job market. Computer science professor Rajesh Gupta and electrical engineering professor Truong Nguyen also served as judges.


Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering