Reclamation Selects Six Fish Tracking Ideas in Inaugural Prize Competition

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Reclamation has selected six ideas out of 22 submitted for its "New Concepts for Remote Fish Detection" prize competition. Reclamation will now develop a plan to further test, develop and demonstrate the effectiveness of these submitted ideas.

It’s a win-win situation for all involved. We receive innovative ideas that may help us recover threatened and endangered fish species, while prize competition participants are rewarded or recognized for their innovation and hard work.

The Bureau of Reclamation has selected six ideas out of 22 submitted for its "New Concepts for Remote Fish Detection" prize competition. Four out of the six submissions fully qualified under the prize competition guidelines and will receive a shared total of $20,000.

Reclamation currently supports many projects to track and count fish at its projects and facilities, and many of these fish are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Reclamation is required to monitor the fish to maintain compliance with ESA, so that it can continue to deliver water and generate power. The current technology uses Passive Integrated Transponder tags that are similar to what is used to track cats and dogs. However, the detection range on these tags is quite short and usually limited to less than 3 feet. Federal biologists are interested in tags that are inexpensive like PIT tags, but can be detected from 10 or 100 feet away.

“Reclamation realizes the world is full of talented people, and one way to collaborate with these individuals or groups is through a prize competition,” Commissioner Estevan López said. “It’s a win-win situation for all involved. We receive innovative ideas that may help us recover threatened and endangered fish species, while prize competition participants are rewarded or recognized for their innovation and hard work. The six fish tracking submissions will help us improve fish monitoring and tracking through their lifecycle.

Ben Boudaoud and Alicia Klinefelter of Beaverton, Oregon, will receive $11,500, for using a comprehensive piezoelectric tagging technology and a device for installing tags in fish. Piezoelectric energy harvesting uses the fish's swimming motion to generate the power needed by the tag to transmit a tracking signal. Boudaoud has a master’s and bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Virginia. Boudaoud works in the field of medical electronic devices. Klinefelter holds a doctorate in electrical and electronics engineering from University of Virginia, and has a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Miami University. Klinefelter works in integrated circuit design.

Douglas Still of Harrah, Oklahoma, will receive $3,500, for using a tag that encases a magnet and copper coil injected into the fish. As the fish moves, the magnet moves freely and an electric current is generated in the copper wire that powers the tag. Still has a Bachelor of Science in geophysical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and has worked as a geophysicist for 22 years.

Rick Rogers of Harvard, Massachusetts, will receive $2,500, for suggesting the use of piezoelectric film technology to charge a rechargeable radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag. Rogers has a master's degree in electrical engineering and biomedical engineering from Southern Methodist University and Bachelor of Science in physics from Texas Tech University. Rogers is a retired software engineer and product manager and has managed the creation of software for mobile phones for the last 15 years.

Dmitriy Tipikin of Medford, Massachusetts, will receive $2,500, for suggesting piezoelectric power to generate power for a RFID tag. Tipikin holds a doctorate in chemical physics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in Dolgoprudny, Russia, and received a master's degree in physics and mathematics. Tipikin has worked as an experimental physicist in the field of electron paramagnetic resonance at Cornell University and then Geisel Medical School at Dartmouth.

Two of the six top-ranked solutions were submitted from individuals who were not United States citizens, making them ineligible to win a prize under rules of the competition. Although the foreign submissions were not eligible to win a prize, the participants still granted the U.S. Government a right to use their submissions to help in the recovery of threatened and endangered fish.

The solution submitted by Suman Ummanolla, from Hyderabad, India, suggested using a fiber optic laser sensor to detect fish tag transmissions underwater. An honorable mention went to Ramiz Qandah from Amman, Jordan, for his idea to use piezoelectric film technology to energize and charge a tag.

Although only six ideas were selected, the federal government receives a perpetual, no-cost right to use any of the 22 submitted. Reclamation will now develop a plan to further test, develop and demonstrate the effectiveness of these submitted ideas. "We received a lot of good ideas through this prize competition," said Mark McKinstry, Reclamation’s lead for this prize competition. "We are excited to see if we can use these ideas to improve fish tracking tools at a lower cost than we currently have available."

The Bureau of Reclamation collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration - National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to design and judge this prize competition.

To learn more about prize competitions, please visit: http://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/index.html.

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Peter Soeth
Bureau of Reclamation
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