Qualia Networks gift helps students create smart devices

NCSSM biology and engineering students will gain all new prototyping potential with the gift of these Chariot shields from Qualia Networks.

Through a collaboration with Qualia Networks (QNI), biology and engineering students at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics will have new web-of-things capabilities to prototype smart devices. QNI, based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, is donating six of its Chariot shields, on which web-of-things innovations can be developed for microcontrollers using open-source Arduino software.

NCSSM students will use the shields in a new course in agricultural science to build automated greenhouse wireless sensor networks, drones, and robots. The innovations aim for the goal of growing more food with less — less water, fertilizer, pesticides, and tillage, explains Jon Davis, instructor of biology, genetics, and biotechnology.

“I am excited to receive a set of Chariot devices to bring the web of things to modern agriculture,” says Davis. “With the devices, students can build wireless sensor motes to monitor our environment and store this data in the cloud for statistical analysis and machine learning insights. My specific focus will be agriculture — helping farmers understand environmental conditions, monitor crop health, make management decisions, and ultimately boost production while reducing inputs and pollution. Our world is becoming a smart world draped with sensors and tended by algorithms — we want to train NCSSM students to lead in improving agriculture applying these tools. Our partners at Qualia have done much of the hard work building the wireless networking shields and developing software to allow us to work faster in accomplishing these goals.”

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