GENERAL SANTOS CITY—Inside the ordinary-looking room at the College of Engineering of the General Santos City campus of the Mindanao State University (MSU) is a gallery of gadgets that now places the city in the roadmap of artificial intelligence (AI).
In it is the P5-million Intelligence Systems Laboratory (ISL), the only one of its nature among the academe-based special laboratories assisted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
The lab was intended to provide the scientific assistance and science-based data analytics for major policy-decisions by local political leaders.
With the ISL, the supposed growth region that the rich rice plains of the Cotabato provinces was envisioned to be in the 1990s, would likely get another push forward, as MSU-GSC officials are assuring of the laboratory’s open and willing assistance to the city.
On March 1, the DOST and MSU-GSC inaugurated the P5-million ISL housed in the university.
Inside the room are state-of-the-art research equipment, including simulation software, programmable logic controllers, 3D printers and robotic systems.
For in-house purpose, the laboratory’s facilities “will enable students and faculty to conduct cutting-edge research in the field of intelligent systems and artificial intelligence and prepare students to be industry-ready,” said Dr. Cristina P. Dadula of the College of Engineering and the project leader of ISL.
“The laboratory research hub will promote and improve research activities in the College of Engineering, encourage collaborations, and facilitate research activities in artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation,” she added.
In the pipeline of undergraduate research are audio-based projects, abnormal events protection and an anti-spooking application to counter the spooking of a face-detection and recognition attendance system already applied in the university.
“We will see how this will be effective to stop this spooking activities,” she said.
For outside relevance, Dadula said one proposal would be a program monitoring on Lake Sebu, the biggest source of fresh water fishes, as well as a project to develop parameters on fish kill “to forecast its occurrence.”
Dr. Noel S. Gunay, dean of the College of Engineering, said the research unit of the college has a current collaboration with the city government on two projects: the Intelligent Traffic Watcher and the Intelligent Transportation System for General Santos City.
The two projects with the city government were already underway before the ISL was inaugurated, but he said these projects should be incorporated into the ISL system.
He said the ISL will “provide us a system where we can utilize electronics and information and communication technology and perhaps data analytics to provide our policy-makers, our leaders with the data on how to best manage our current challenges in development in the city or in the region.”
Gunay pointed out that the ISL is capable of developing “what we call precision farming.”
“Using these gadgets and putting up sensors in the farm, we can determine how much is needed, or lacking in the application of fertilizer and of what type of fertilizer, for instance,” he said.
Developing regional laboratory system
Gunay said the MSU-GSC ISL would function as part of the DOST consortium and its extent of relevance to the community would be largely determined by the information coming from the members.
“These devices and instruments and systems sensors that are developed in this laboratory can be actually used in monitoring, surveillance and getting data, to the many problems of our city. This is one of our institutional projects, and we are looking to subsequent projects to make use of the facilities and the equipment so that these will be fully utilized,” he added.
Dadulay said the ISL is the first project with the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development of the DOST (DOST-PCIEERD).
“The [ISL] provides an opportunity for students and faculty to develop relevant solutions for real-world problems using advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and other related fields,” Dadula said.
Dr. Usman D. Aragasi, MSU-GSC Acting Chancellor, expressed his gratitude to the DOST-PCIEERD and said the ISL funding would elevate the university’s research capabilities and contribute to the development of the province’s S&T and technopreneurship sector.
“The ISL is actually one of the support facilities of the TBI [Technology Business Incubator], and I want to thank you for supporting our application for the regional TBI,” he said.
DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director Enrico Paringit told BusinessMirror he wanted to see how the network of university-based laboratories would develop into a more integrated system.
The MSU may provide a good vantage point on this, he said, being a system of universities spread across Mindanao.
The main campus in Marawi City has its own laboratory on devices on semiconductor; the MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology has its laboratory on micro-integrated circuits; and the MSU-GSC has this ISL.
“We want to see how the MSU system would develop a systemwide laboratory to cater the needs of Mindanao,” Paringit said.
“Or, we want to know how the other laboratories in one particular region, or perhaps, all the regions would develop themselves into one or multiple integrated laboratory systems to cater to the various needs of the industries and communities across most parts of Mindanao,” he said.
“The Council remains committed to expanding our reach to universities and colleges and establish more laboratories and facilities in the regions to develop and upskill the Philippines’s human resource in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics),” he added.
Image credits: Manuel T. Cayon