Three groups of students from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa won a contest last week with their “escape room” design that combines innovative technologies and creative imagination. The completed project will be open to the public in the coming academic year.An escape room is a physical adventure game in which participants solve a series of puzzles using strategy, hints and clues to complete the objectives at hand.Players are given a time limit to unveil the secret plot hidden within the rooms.Being in the Technion, the room reflects scientific, technological and other educational aspects. The project’s goal was to bring youngsters and adults closer to the worlds of science and engineering and expose the Technion to the general public through action, creativity and advanced technology. But more than anything, it was to create an escape room where it is fun to play and to where members of the general public are invited to participate.Program coordinator Daniel Griver explained, “As escape rooms have become a very strong trend in the general public, we know that a technical escape room based on the multidisciplinary abilities of our students will offer the audience a unique experience.”Of 22 groups of students in the competition, five were selected to build rooms. They were advised by two experts in the field, Yoni Papini and Tali Marchevsky. The judging committee included Technion senior vice president Prof. Adam Schwartz, who served as chairman; escape room specialist Ronen Meital; and dean of students Prof. Benny Natan.The idea of setting up an escape room at the Technion was initiated by Natan after his family visited such a facility in Italy. At the awards ceremony, Natan said to the winners, “I thank you for the great investment in the programs you presented to us, and your suggestions attest to the special skills and high level of creativity among our students.” The first prize was awarded to students Itai Meshorer, Adi Kupershmidt, Raz Kagan, Itai Tsabari and Dor Zohar, with each receiving NIS 5,000. The group decided at the outset that their room would not be just a “riddle room,” but a place that would give the visitor a powerful sensory experience of detachment from reality, with a credible and sweeping plot. Unwilling to be spoilers, they were only willing to say that their escape room takes visitors to a virtual tour of the three Technion campuses in Haifa, New York and Guangdong, China.The group was founded by Kupershmidt and his wife, who met during their studies at the Thelma Yellin High School in Giv’atayim. During the work on the escape room, they became engaged to be married.The two were joined by Kagan of the faculty of architecture and town planning; Tsabari, a graduate student in the Viterbi faculty of electrical engineering; and Dor Zohar, a graduate student in computer science.The second prize was awarded to Idan Peretz, a dual-degree student in civil and environmental engineering; Yuval Calderon, who is studying science and materials engineering; and three other students from the faculty of architecture and town planning: Dana Assor, Yaniv Hattiel and Sivan Bosni. The creative student group decided to use one of the urban legends at the Technion for their escape room – a mysterious underground city located beneath the campus.“Working on the idea and the script was not simple, because we knew we had to create something very reliable, despite the fact that it was a fictional idea,” Peretz said.The group decided not to visit other escape rooms while working on their project, so as not to copy existing ideas. “It forced us to reinvent the wheel, which was not easy, especially since we are all students who are immersed in studies and tests,” said Peretz. “But in the end, our concept worked.”The third prize was awarded to Yan Yitshkovitz – a student in computer science – and to four students from the civil and environmental engineering faculty: Shelly Magen, Alon Feldman, Hadar Wolfman and Tamara Halif.