IT Seminar Sierre 2023, Team 3

We are Team 2, Ekaterina Raguzina and Nguyen Viet Trung Thao.

Thao: Before starting this IoT (Internet of Things) project, the extent of my experience with IoT devices was limited to using my smartphone, and smartwatch, controlling my home’s LED lights through a mobile app, and utilizing my Google Home speaker to play music and answer questions. These devices have provided me with a glimpse of how connected technology can improve my daily routine, so I am really looking forward to this project because I finally learned how to build an IoT device myself.

Ekaterina: I use IoT devices daily such as a smart washing machine, a surveillance camera, and a
smartphone. But I never assembled a device myself before this course.

What’s our subproject?

Our subproject focuses on optimizing the functionality of the GPS sensor by enhancing its ability to receive and transmit data to and from satellites. This information will be displayed on both an LCD screen and a serial monitor, allowing for quick and easy access to the data. The GPS will work by utilizing satellite signals to determine its precise location in terms of latitude and longitude. It will also calculate the altitude of the device relative to sea level when signals are received from at least five satellites. This feature will enable users to accurately determine their height above sea level in a variety of settings, such as mountainous terrain or in-flight. Our project team will focus on fine-tuning the GPS sensor to ensure it functions at optimal levels, providing users with reliable and accurate location and altitude data in real-time.

For using the GPS sensor to measure and show values on Serial Monitor, we used the following
components: GPS Sensor Module, ESP-32 board, Jumper wires, USB cable, and Computer with Arduino IDE installed. For using a GPS sensor to measure and show values on Display, GPS Sensor Module, ESP-32 board, Jumper wires, LCD module (e.g., 20×4), Potentiometer (for adjusting contrast), USB cable, Computer with Arduino IDE installed.

Seminar trip

Our team arrived in Sierre one day prior to the seminar. We first took a flight to Munich, waited there for 3
hours, and then flew to Geneva. In Geneve, we took the train to Sierre. During our 2h trip, we enjoyed the
beautiful view of the mountains and the lake. When we arrived, we checked into our hotels and took a walk around the Sierre center. Sierre may be a small town in the Canton of Valais, but it is surrounded by
breathtaking scenery that is sure to make you stunned. We were really surprised by the warmth and
friendliness of the locals as they always greeted us with a friendly hello and a smile. We had some strange kebabs for dinner. It was still the Easter holiday, so everything was closed.

Day 1: Swiss Day.

Raspberry Pi workshop. We worked in a big team with Spanish and Swiss guys. First, we set up the
Bluetooth service by installing the correct library on our Raspberry Pi. Since Raspberry Pi uses the Linux
operating system, we used command lines in Linux to give instructions to the device. Then, we paired the
Raspberry Pi with our phone for Bluetooth connectivity. Next, to control the motors, we modified the
Python code. We used the Flutter app as the client to connect to the server hosted on our Pi. We mixed the codes from “” and “” to enable the control of the motors via a received Bluetooth
message. After making sure that the script was executed at boot, our robot started moving. Yay!

Raspberry robot car

For lunch, we had prawns with rice.

As said.

After lunch, we played many VR games and did an assignment with Unity: the webcam could recognize the image and put 3D objects on top of it.

Ekaterina: for me both workshops were new, I have never tried to work with Raspberry Pi and Unity. So, it was interesting and informative. I noticed some similarities with our project.

Thao: As for me, I do not have any experience with Raspberry Pi, but I notice that it shares many similarities with the ESP32 microcontroller that we are using in the project we are bringing to Switzerland. Regarding the VR and AR session, it was my first time experiencing such technology, and I am excited and enjoyed it. It was an enjoyable moment for me.

In the evening we went all together to eat Italian pizza.

Us all having pizza

Day 2. Spanish Day

This day was intense. Spanish team prepared 4 workshops with Unity (the changing color cube, the room), VR (escape room quest and playing games), and building a robot with Blender.

Ekaterina: I appreciate that the Spanish team has prepared so many workshops and they designed a nice
file with the instructions. But as they did not have enough time, they were in a rush. It was hard to follow
their instructions, especially with the Blender exercise. It was quite advanced. I never worked with Blender
before and had no idea about the shortcuts. I would like to have fewer exercises but at least to be able to
complete them. Escape Room was cool as the guys built their own app for us to use. I have prior experience using AR apps. I liked the Beat Saber game. Unity was already installed on my computer during Swiss day, so I knew a bit about how to use it.

Thao: The Spanish team’s workshop this year share some similarity with the Swiss workshop, so after
Swiss’s Day, they must prepare new topics, and projects and rehearse all over again after their day of
presentations. Despite the short duration of just one day, they managed to do an exceptional job, which I
greatly appreciate. However, I must note that the pace of their lessons was a little fast and rushed (because we have a company excursion that evening), and some of my friends struggled to keep up, possibly because it was their first time experiencing such an application. Nevertheless, the Spanish team’s dedication was commendable, and overall, they performed exceedingly well.

After the Spanish day, we went to visit a hydro powerplant.

We could feel the presenter is knowledgeable and proud of his job. Going inside the turbine was an
amazing experience. After the excursion, we ordered burgers and gathered to prepare for the presentation.

Day 3: Finnish Day

As Ekaterina’s GPS sensor did not work on the seminar day, we united with Thao’s team. After the general
presentation, we made a team with 2 Spanish and 2 Swiss guys. First, we explained to them what every
component is used for. Then we connected part by part and used the code to check if that works. After we taught the guys how to connect all the parts.

Finnish day starts

During the lunch break, we ran to see the lake.

Escape to the lake

After the lunch break, we went to search for Heikki who was hiding from us. We received the GPS
coordinates from him and started to walk outside to make sure that the GPS coordinates in our box
matched with the coordinates on his picture. And we found him and got a bag of Finnish candies! Yay!

Ekaterina: I have prepared for the seminar about all parts before leaving for Sierre. But during the rehearsal the night before I learned a lot too. When teaching others, I learned even more. I enjoyed showing how to connect all parts and was glad we had the time for an extra exercise with a chatbot. It would be more fun, of course, if my GPS sensor would be working.

Thao: Although I had prepared well for the seminar, I found myself struggling to answer some of the clever questions posed by my fellow teammate from the Swiss and Spanish teams. Nevertheless, our team’s project went incredibly smoothly, and I learned a lot of new things along the way. Finally, we were the winners of this day, thanks to our ability to locate Heikki’s hiding spot, and rewarded with a bag of candy.

After the Finnish day, Swiss guys took us to the beautiful Château Mercier.

Day 4. Diplomas and goodbyes.

Interesting presentation from alumni who work in banking/telecom and HES-SO. A fun presentation about
the seminar roots

Slide from prehistory of seminar

Thoughts after the Seminar

Ekaterina: it was fun! HES-SO staff and students were very hospitable. Besides the workshops, I enjoyed
learning about Swiss and Spanish studies during our discussions. Hope to see them next year in Helsinki as seminar alumni and show them around. I learned that Unity is not as difficult as I thought, one can do
amazing things in Blender, how to connect IoT device. I hope to have time and take a Blender course at
Open University. My specialization is UX/UI design. This experience does not affect my studies, but I think
the knowledge and skills I got will support me in my IT career.

Thao: This seminar was amazing! It was my first time attending one, and I was thoroughly impressed. The
hosts were hospitable and created a friendly, collaborative atmosphere that made me feel comfortable. I
learned so many new skills and developed an interest in several topics. I would highly recommend this
course to all my friends because it offers an exceptional experience and provides the opportunity to make
new friends and network with experts in the field. I am really looking forward to meeting all of them again in next year’s IT Seminar in Helsinki, as an attendee or alumni.

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