Spring 2021 Challenges Released

Spring 2021 challenges have been announced with more to come. As of this writing, we have SEVEN different challenges to choose from with various backgrounds needed! There is a big need for students with technical expertise to be on teams with policy, economic, business, social work, science, engineering, data analytics, and other backgrounds.

If you are interested in a challenge for next semester, register for PUBAFRS 5620 and email us at battellecenter@osu.edu to get more information!

Fall 2020 Challenge Spotlight: Pandemic Challenge

Fall 2020 semester’s pandemic challenge will have an interdisciplinary student team working with the newly formed Comprehensive Monitoring Team (CMT) at the Ohio Department of Health. The CMT is tasked with contextualizing pandemic data collected throughout Ohio and neighboring states in order to create actionable steps to be sent to Governor DeWine. This data includes, but is not limited to, emergency department and outpatient care codes, COVID-19 testing data, contact tracing data, as well as data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently underway is an initiative to use wastewater sampling along with other environmental monitoring as another method to characterize the spread of COVID-19 in different areas. This environmental monitoring has the potential to provide new and useful data to the conversation and help the CMT with their mission. Students will be tasked with finding ways to integrate the use of this data into the CMT’s network in a useful and sustainable way. Information discovery will be key to helping the team understand how this data should be used, what can be learned from it, and what type of tool can be created to clear out the noise and make it easy to incorporate with existing data.

Along the way, students will get an opportunity to network with the Ohio Department of Health and other experts in the field as they push to learn more about the challenge. They will also get a sense of how environmental data is collected and utilized in the context of pandemics and health security. This is a great opportunity for students with any background to see how disciplines must come together to ensure health security and the kind of work that goes into creating policies and actions that keep the public safe.

Rapid Innovation for Public Impact (PUBAFRS 5620) meets on Fridays from 12-3. Any student interested in this problem should register for the course and contact us at battellecenter@osu.edu with any questions.

Fall 2020 Challenge Spotlight: Voting Maps Challenge

Congressional districting maps in Ohio are scheduled to be redrawn in 2021. In order to do that, information about the population must be collected and analyzed in order to create fair districting that is representative of the needs of the people. The practice of gerrymandering is a threat to our democracy and aims to outsmart the voting process. If we are to combat this problem, we need new, efficient ways of understanding the dynamic nature of our population.

Innovative mapping tools are needed to rapidly analyze proposed voting maps and support redistricting to create better representation in our democratic process. This challenge will allow students to work with the latest voter and census data along with national experts in statistical and mathematical analyses of voting districts. In taking on this task, students will be able to have an impact on the voting rights of the electorate.

We imagine a team of students with a variety of backgrounds including, but not limited to, policy, data analytics, engineering, mathematics, and/or statistics along with a passion for the well-being of our democratic process. Use the knowledge you have gained in your classes and apply them to a wicked problem.

Make a real-world difference on an arena that is the backbone of our government and society while building your skillsets in communication, teamwork, and problem solving.

Fall 2020 Challenge Spotlight: Circuit Board Imaging

One of our challenges this semester involves machine learning to help innovate the process of creating the latest technology! This challenge involves creating an automated process for a computer to accurately create the schematic of an electronic circuit board using only images of that board.

Circuit boards are the heart of the technology we use every day. Currently, schematics must be created manually and require a high amount of time and labor. With various images using a plethora of modalities including X-ray, scanning electron microscope, etc., a toolchain is required that can automatically combine different images of the same circuit board to develop a schematic. The challenge asks for solutions that involve any combination of compressed sensing or imaging, machine vision, optical character recognition, and shape analysis.

We are seeking students with an interest in this technology as well as anyone with backgrounds in:

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Material Science Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Science Engineering
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Integrated Systems Engineering
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics

We are hoping to build an interdisciplinary team that can tackle this complex challenge and welcome any student who wishes to work on it. Sign up for PUBAFRS 5620, Rapid Innovation for Public Impact, that meets Fridays from 12-3 for a chance to contribute to the solution for this complex problem!

Note: this course has been used as a capstone substitute in many different colleges and can be done with approval depending on the problem worked on and the requirements of that college.

Check Out The Latest Discussion on Au2020 Challenges!

Recently, we sat down with one of the professors of the course, Dr. Elizabeth Newton, who helped found this course and discussed what the course is and what the challenges look like for Autumn 2020.

In this recording you’ll get a sense of what is expected of you in the course and how this course functions as an multidisciplinary capstone for some colleges. You’ll also learn about what backgrounds can be useful to tackle the wicked problems of this course and how your knowledge can be useful no matter what challenge you find interesting.

Check out the recording here!

Initial Fall 2020 Challenges Posted

Check out the Challenges page to learn more about the Fall 2020 challenges that have been announced to this point. These challenges require multi-disciplinary teams to create effective solutions and interact with the sponsors. This upcoming semester we will be working on challenges on a range of topics from machine learning, to the strengthening the democratic process, cyber security, and the transportation.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the problems listed, reach out to us at battellecenter@osu.edu.

Spring 2020 Challenges Posted

The Spring 2020 incarnation of Rapid Innovation for Public Impact course is ready to roll! We have announced our challenges for the course and are looking for students to tackle these real-world challenges! We need students with all types of backgrounds including, but not limited to, engineering, policy, psychology, data analytics, physics, math, business, and economics. Check out the problems below and let us know if you are interested in joining this rigorous and impactful course.

Spring 2020 Challenges

  1. Ensuring the public safety of launch vehicles’ Autonomous Flight Safety Systems
  2. Improving public health outcomes with collaborative planning between state government and hospitals
  3. Responding to a flu pandemic outbreak
  4. Overcoming image distortion in order to identify real threats
  5. Improving helicopter maintenance management to ensure successful naval missions
  6. Addressing the shortage of U.S. working dogs for security
  7. Designing a task order system to manage intelligence requests


Our information sessions for this class are listed below and will help answer questions about the course, allow you to meet the instructors, and get a sense of what this class can do for you! RSVP HERE for any of the following dates.

Monday Oct 7 4:30-5:15

Wednesday Oct 9 11:30-12:15

Tuesday Oct 22 4:30-5:15

Friday Oct 25 3-3:45 

Fall 2019 Challenges Posted!

Hello everyone!

Rapid Innovation for Public Impact is ready to launch for the Fall 2019 semester. We are excited for another semester of students and challenges that are sure to push the envelope and make an impact. The latest challenges have been posted to our challenges page and students are encouraged to take a look and see if they would be interested in any of our Fall 19 problem statements.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED: register fro PUBAFR 5800 and email us at battellecenter@osu.edu for more information.

Information session: Monday, August 19th, at 3:30 PM. Battelle Center, Page Hall 2nd Floor, Room 240A

Come to our information session to meet the instructors and discuss the problem statements!