Student wins Ricoh scholarship for drone-enabled precision agriculture solution

Ricoh USA, Inc. today announced that Veenadhari Kollipara of Interlake High School in Bellevue, WA is the winner of the 14th annual Ricoh Sustainable Development Award (RSDA). For her winning invention, an end-to-end solution that lowers the barrier of entry for precision agriculture, she is awarded a $10,000 scholarship. In its 14th consecutive year, the RSDA continues to encourage innovation from students and demonstrates Ricoh’s global commitment to pursue excellence, improve quality of life and drive sustainability. The RSDA was awarded at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2018 earlier this year.

“Sustainable practices are at the core of our business,” said Donna Venable, Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Deputy General Manager, Shared Services, Ricoh Americas. “We’re thrilled to honor Veenadhari Kollipara with the RSDA, which we hope will help contribute to her continued professional growth and research of precision agriculture. By expanding our sustainable initiatives outside our office walls to programs such as this, we’re able to grow our circle of sustainability commitment to make a larger societal impact.”

As part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Ricoh has committed to eight of the outlined goals including affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production, and climate action. By 2050, the UN projects that the global population will reach nine billion people.1 In order to produce enough food to feed everyone on existing acreage, farmers are looking to more efficient and effective means of farming. Kollipara’s drone-enabled precision agriculture solution aims to help combat the global food security challenge and is smartly positioned to help achieve the UN’s SDGs of sustainable consumption and production patterns as well as zero hunger.

Judging for the RSDA takes into account how well projects harmonize practical business and environmental sustainability into the invention as well as how it aligns with Ricoh’s Sustainable Environmental Management Pillars. The winning entry demonstrates the Conservation of Biodiversity and Pollution Prevention pillars. It is able to carry a soil-sampler payload with onboard Arduino sensors, IR camera, GPS and a sprayer system. It includes a farmer friendly dashboard, which provides farmers with a visualization of field data to enable them to make better and more informed decisions, adjust the farm practices as needed, and apply precise inputs to aid in planting and harvesting decisions. This invention was tested on apple, peach orchards and alfalfa farms, and it stood out for its ability to help enable farmers to conduct economically and environmentally sustainable business.

“The Society for Science & the Public congratulates Veenadhari Kollipara on winning the Ricoh Sustainable Development Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair,” said Maya Ajmera, President & CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News. “The innovative ideas presented at Intel ISEF demonstrate the power of scientific curiosity and the desire for all of our finalists to make the world a better place.”

The RSDA has awarded more than $420,000 in scholarships to 35 students since its inception in 2005 and underscores Ricoh’s continued investment in sustainability. In 2017, Paul R. Gauvreau won the RSDA for his self-pollination innovation. Recalling that accomplishment, Gauvreau said, “The recognition from Ricoh has encouraged me to take my science fair project and turn it into a tangible business that positively impacts those around me.” He is now working on two business ventures based on his project. “The first is a consumer centric company, The Beebot, which focuses on two things, enabling the everyday gardener to better monitor, maintain, and pollinate their plants, and the nonprofit aspect that aims to provide developing communities with The Beebot, and enable them to increase crop production. The second venture focuses on applying the multicopter pollination IP to industrial farms.”

RSDA is one of Ricoh’s many commitments to support sustainable business practices that help empower digital workplaces. This year Ricoh was recognized with an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award for the third consecutive time earning the company ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award recognition. Ricoh was also honored as a Gold winner in Best in Biz Awards for Most Environmentally Responsible Company of the Year. In addition, Ricoh was the first Japanese company to join the RE100 and is committed to using a minimum of 30 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

For more information on Ricoh’s sustainability efforts, visit here or follow the company’s social media channels on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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