The China Final of the 38th Odyssey of the Mind (OM) was held in the Shanghai University on February 25 and 26. A total of 450 teams ranging from kindergarten to college from 14 Chinese provinces and cities and four teams from Germany and South Korea participated in the two-day competition. The Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) OM Club sent out two teams composed mainly of University of Michigan- SJTU Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI) students, one in the Smart Car category and the other in the Classics category. Both teams won the first prize in the collegiate division. The Smart Car team also won the national championship and will represent China to participate in the 38th Odyssey of the Mind World Final to be held at the Michigan State University in May.
In the competition, each team has to solve two kinds of problems: the long-term problem and the spontaneous problem. The long-term category has five types of problems, such as structure, classics, performance, etc. to choose from. The solution often takes months to complete and involves design, construction, theatrical performance, etc. During the final, team members display and present their solution on site. The scoring criteria include innovation, artistry, etc. In the spontaneous category, the team has to respond to one random question creatively in five minutes.
To prepare for the competition, the SJTU team members worked day and night in the engineering training center on the competition equipment. The players of the classics category used light bands, gratings and other materials to produce a magnificent poster board with a great visual impact; and the smart-car team members produced several innovative race cars such as a two-wheel self-balancing car and a gas-engine car.
At the final, the SJTU teams not only delivered outstanding performance in terms of device design, use of technology, artistic creativity, live performance and teamwork, but also gave smart answers to spontaneous questions based on solid academic background and broad knowledge. They won high praises from the judges.
The members of the SJTU Smart Car Team with Dr. C. Samuel Micklus, founder of the OM
Prior to the award ceremony, Weng Shilie, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, former SJTU President as well as Chairman of the Chinese Association of Odyssey of the Mind, visited the SJTU teams. He showed great interest in the smart cars and asked detailed questions about its principles and design. He gave the students high recognition and wished them success at the OM world final.
Odyssey of the Mind is originated in the United States. It aims to promote young people’s well-rounded capabilities in science, art and humanities. It encourages young people to think outside the box and make bold inventions. The China final is held in Shanghai in early spring each year, participated by foreign teams as well as Chinese teams from all over China. Mr. Han Zheng, Shanghai Municipal Party Committee Secretary, repeatedly met with the winning teams and fully affirmed Shanghai City’s support for the OM activities.
SJTU OM Association was founded by JI student Junyi Xu in 2014, which has been committed to strengthening the undergraduate students through the second classroom innovation and entrepreneurship education. The Club provides a platform for interested students to develop creativity, practice and train for the competition. Last year, the SJTU team competed as a Chinese champion in the OM World Final and won the third prize.