When the winning team at this month’s Discover Technata Hackathon was announced, you’d have thought they’d won the Super Bowl!
“YASSSSS!” came booming voices from the back to the room at Hub350 on Wednesday.
Team Javaliers’ excitement was shared by many. Applause greeted them, as they climbed to the stage to be recognized and claim their prize.
It was, after all, a Super Bowl of problem solving. And after three weeks, Discover Technata’s Hackers had come up with a solution to this statement from title sponsor Kinaxis:
Emissions tracking is top of mind for companies when looking at their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy. This helps each company look at their role in assessing the urgency of the climate crisis. Currently, emissions are assessed using estimates and mathematical models but they could be more accurate.
Companies in the Kanata North Tech Park are looking for ways to better track their current emissions and where they originate from in real time. How can they do that?
It is also important that this information is made available to the public so they too understand their awareness of the climate crisis and become more conscious of their own emissions.
How can companies target everyday consumers to educate them on the climate crisis and encourage them to reduce their own emissions? This could be anyone from their customers to their employees. When considering a solution, consider using 5G, Internet of Things (IOT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
After submitting their proposed solutions, the field was narrowed to five teams who were able to present their ideas to a panel of judges, which included Sandra Crocker from Carleton University, Dharina Hanumunthadu from Solace, Eric Marois from Algonquin College, Leo Lax from L-Spark, Andre Edmonson from Ross Video, Guy Levesque from uOttawa, Steve Rycroft from Nokia, and Graham Andrews at Kinaxis.
First place in the Hackathon was a $2,000 cash prize from Ross Video. Team Javaliers members Evan Wauchope, Hasith De Alwis, Rayhaan Farooq, and Ryan Zhu proposed a product called MonsTerra, which included a browser extension that would work on consumer websites like Amazon that would reward customers for buying products with a lower carbon footprint with points and rebates.
A B2B approach to their proposal would be to award companies/retailers points for being sustainably conscious in their product offering, either with a lower carbon footprint in its creation or distribution. They would use artificial intelligence to analyze user data from companies to help them predict the most sustainable products and environment costs like water waste.
“This is the best thing that’s ever happened!” said Ryan Zhu of the Javaliers. All of them agreed that having access to mentors from the Kanata tech park the past three weeks had helped them develop their product plan.
“They really change your way of thinking about this kind of problem,” said Evan Wauchope of the Javaliers.
Teammate Hasith De Alwis agreed “You need to go to mentors and get your idea absolutely slashed. That’s what caused us to rise from our rubble and create a better product.”
Second place Team SynErgy won a $1,000 cash prize donated by L-Spark, presented by Leo Lax. Team members Freda Luo, Mayukh Raj, Raef Sarofiem, and Sakshit Sharma proposed a series of bins that would allow companies to track their e-waste, and reuse parts such as batteries. The systems would be overseen by IT departments to track devices such as laptops and phones through serial numbers to estimate life cycles for the devices.
“I’m an introvert, but from day one as the mentors were coming in, all of these industry pioneers… I just love technology, and I love gadgets. I am just fascinated that I have people to talk to about these things now. When I got here, I felt acknowledged,” said Mayukh Raj from Team SynErgy.
Team SynErgy teammate Sakshit Sharma said he loved the experience and connecting with his team and the mentors.
“It was wonderful. I learned a lot of things about teamwork, mentorship, and public speaking. The best part is that we are looking for a co-op for December 2024, so it’s a great opportunity being here and making connections,” Sharma said.
Third place team GreenSense won a $500 cash prize donated by Fidus Systems presented by Kyry Kryvorucko. The team members, Dominador Ibanez, Karthikeya Saligram, Kelvin Ling, and Neel Patel, boldly began their presentation with “you’ve heard the problems. Now here’s the solution.” It promised to use 5G and IoT to properly track emissions at data centres, making them more sustainable, providing metrics on how to reuse heat created from servers in data centres.
Other proposals included Team Collective Emissions’ platform that allowed users and businesses to track their carbon footprint, and EcoMetrics, which used artificial intelligence to forecast cost savings by tracking energy consumption floor by floor in offices.
For the second year in a row, the Kanata North Business Association hosted the event and found it fully subscribed with students from Carleton University, University of Ottawa and Algonquin College.
As judges were deliberating on a winner, Steve Rycroft spoke to the students.
“I always ask our teams ‘Are you thinking big enough? What’s the bigger mission or purpose here?’”
He told the students they only need to know enough about tech to get through to implementation, and that they should always find a way to keep going when they hit roadblocks.
“Know enough to solve problems.”
He also suggested that students connect with the mentors in the room, as these are people they can trust.
After the winners were announced, all Hackathon attendees enjoyed a buffet dinner which included a mashed potato station.
Because even Super Bowl Champion hackers have to fuel for the next game.