Students with CivTech SA Ideathon learn from tech professionals

Students try to create solutions for different challenges

SAN ANTONIO – College students from across San Antonio were given an opportunity to learn from professionals during the second annual CivTech SA Ideathon.

The CivTech SA program is a partnership between San Antonio’s Office of Innovation and Geekdom, a co-working space.

During the two-day competition, students created solutions for different challenges plus found creative ways to build a smart San Antonio.

Students Harry Staley and Hunter Kim came up with a bright idea to reduce power outages in San Antonio.

“We had 10 minutes and 10 slides to describe our idea,” Staley said.

Staley is a senior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio studying computer science, and Kim is a junior at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is studying computer engineering. They met at this year’s Ideathon.

“We were working with a mentor who works with CPS. He taught us the basics of energy and existing infrastructure of San Antonio,” Kim said.

Their solution for reducing power outages in communities is by having a shared community bank of power.

“Each community has a battery and a renewable energy source and what that does to solve the power outages issues is if the power goes out in a community, it can actually be taken from that battery, and that would eliminate the power outage for that community,” Staley said.

Their idea outshines the competition making them this year’s first place winners.

“The mentors work for the city of San Antonio and Smart SA partners. They are already working on projects in their own organizations and it's supposed to spark creativity and imagination and potentially have those solutions, ideas that they created brought back to their organizations and potentially be pitched or implemented somehow,” Pebbles Le, program manager for Geekdom CivTech SA program, said.

“Really we want to hone in on what makes San Antonio smarter. Not necessarily seeing what other cities are doing per se. Really just efficiency. Not necessarily have to be technology. Just ways we can work smarter to make our community a better place for our citizens,” said Eddie Johnson, an innovation specialist.

About the Authors:

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

Jason Foster is an executive producer at KSAT. He's worked in the news industry in Texas for more than 15 years, including as a photojournalist, and been at KSAT since 2015.