The participants in the inaugural Summer Innovation Program with Dean of the University of Sydney Law School Professor Simon Bronitt and physicist and Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering Dr David Martinez Martin (centre) and organiser Henry Gallagher (far left), standing in the courtyard at St Paul's College.

Student-engineered solutions at the nexus of law and science

3 February 2020
An idea to label food to indicate the use of antibiotics to prevent the emergence of superbugs has seen a multidisciplinary team of students named the inaugural winners of the Summer Innovation Program (SIP) challenge.
University of Sydney's Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research( Professor Duncan Ivison addressing to the SIP participants inside St Paul's College.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison addressed the SIP students. 

The five-person team – comprising undergraduate and postgraduate law, science, engineering, arts and commerce students – developed their idea over a week, supported by a team of leading academics, practitioners and industry mentors.

“It was a challenge to choose one issue to tackle in the broad topic of ‘Global Health and Environment’, however once we landed on antibiotic resistance, we were able to develop a preliminary solution relatively quickly. Our diverse academic backgrounds then allowed us to effectively develop our idea into a well-rounded solution with foundations in science, media, economics and law,” said Lily McCubbin, a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Hons)/Bachelor of Laws student in the winning group.

The SIP program was an amazing experience which allowed me to pursue both my passion for science and law, whilst collaborating with talented students from all different degrees.
Kirsten Laurendet, Science/Law student

“The SIP program was an amazing experience which allowed me to pursue both my passion for science and law, whilst collaborating with talented students from all different degrees. I was extremely lucky to have such a cohesive team throughout the program and inspiring mentors who encouraged us to remain ambitious and bring our ideas to life,” added Kirsten Laurendet, Bachelor of Science (Advanced)/Bachelor of Laws student also in the winning group.

Kirsten and Lily were two of 20 students from across the University who gathered at St Paul’s College in January to tackle serious legal, regulatory, ethical and scientific challenges facing Australia and the world.

Developed by the new Dean of the University of Sydney Law School Professor Simon Bronitt and physicist and Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering Dr David Martinez Martin, the SIP was structured as an extended “hackathon”, with students introduced to concepts such as design thinking, ethics and storytelling by design and innovation leaders.

Students participating in the SIP at St Paul's College.

Five days of intense work culminated in a Shark Tank-style pitch presentation where students presented on the results of their week of collaborative efforts to a panel of leading experts, including Federal Court of Australia Judge the Hon Sarah Derrington, ABC Radio National presenter Paul Barclay, Dean of Graduate House at St Paul’s College Dr Antone Martinho-Truswell and Kate O'Donnell from the Australian Automobile Association.

Other teams of students participating in the program developed ideas related to autonomous transport, data analytics and crime, security and justice on campus. Students came from across the disciplines of law, engineering, science, medicine, business and the humanities.

Team mentors included academics from the University of Sydney and Queensland University of Technology; tech experts from Amazon, Oxford Insights, Parampara and the Cognitive Company; legal experts from Patrick Fair Associates and Baker McKenzie; education experts from ARCS Australia; members of research institutes the Gradient Institute and the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering; and representatives from the Institute for Cyber Investigations and Forensics.

The Honourable Justice Rachel Pepper, Judge, NSW Land and Environment Court, addressed the SIP students inside St Paul's College.

The Honourable Justice Rachel Pepper, Judge, NSW Land and Environment Court, addressed the SIP students. 

All teams received feedback and the winning team were awarded a package of resources, including a physical home in the University’s Sydney Knowledge Hub and ongoing support and mentoring, to further develop their ‘winning pitch’ into a viable future work program.

“We devised this program to give students the experience of ‘hands on’ interdisciplinary learning outside the formal constraints of grade coursework, and to help them establish new and ongoing professional networks,” said Professor Bronitt.

“Through a range of stimulus activities, peer-to-peer learning and presentations, the SIP organically allowed diverse interdisciplinary teams to investigate, better understand and offer solutions to grand challenges today in the fields of law, regulation and science,” said Dr Martinez Martin.

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