Big Ideas come to life at the Student Innovation Challenge

3 August 2018
Our students take aim at real-world problems
Plastic pollution, disability, smog… no challenge is insurmountable for our innovative students and alumni. The Student Innovation Showcase was an expo of technical ingenuity, cross-discipline collaboration and good, old-fashioned hard work.

Start-up innovation prize winner ($10,000) – AUSMASK

Elias Honor, Isaac Honor and Jack Graham

Intensifying air pollution is an issue that affects millions of people living in South and East Asia. Recognising the devastating health impacts on these populations, a team of students have developed the world’s first anti-pollution mask with unique health benefits. While some existing masks in the market are flawed in their filtration design, the AUSMASK is designed to not only to allow the wearer able to breath clean, filtered air, but to go even further and also target other problems caused by poor air quality. The AUSMASK offers three filter options that can protect skin from pollution, relieve stress and alleviate congestion and flu symptoms.

Research Innovation Prize ($10,000) – HaptiComm

Sven Topp and Basil Duvernoy

Deafblindness is a disability that causes sensory impairment of both vision and hearing and dramatically impacts a person’s ability to communicate. By developing the HaptiComm, this group of researchers aimed to address the communication difficulties that people with this disability face and the isolation that it can cause. Working like a small robotic translator, it uses electro-magnetic actuators and personalised 3D printing to recognise and reproduce natural language formats as preferred by deafblind individuals. The device works with speech recognition software and will eventually work with speech.

Interdisciplinary innovation prize ($5,000) – BioChite

Michelle Demers, Jared Wood and Kimberly Bolton

If drought wasn’t enough, Australian farmers are also plagued by land-destroying plastic pollution. The main cause of this are expensive, laborious and non-recyclable plastic mulch films that are essential for protecting young plants from drying out or being strangled by weeds, but can ruin fertile soils desperately needed by farmers. BioChite, a film produced primarily from crustacean shell waste was developed as a farmer-friendly alternative to plastic mulch. It’s not just a sustainable solution; it’s also good for plant and soil health with natural fertilizer and pesticide properties.

Alumni Innovation Prize – Abyss Solutions ($5,000)

Dr Nasir Ahsan, Hina Ahsan, Masood Naqshbandi and Abraham Kazzaz

How do we investigate structures that are underwater? Abyss Solutions, led by Sydney Uni alumni, have dived in with a clever solution that integrates cutting edge technology in robotics, machine learning, sensors and structural engineering. By operating a number of underwater vehicles with sensors and cameras, they are able to collect data for entire structures. The initial team was made up entirely of members of the University's Incubate program, and today eight of their 16 employees are from the University of Sydney, including four PhD graduates.


The winners of the Innovation Week Coding Challenge were also announced, with Mike Li, Jacqueline Huvanandana, Wilmer Yan sharing in $10,000. It is hoped their work will make an important contribution to dementia research.

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