Swinburnes Waterwise team wins global innovation challenge prize

A blended team of staff and students from Swinburne University of Technology has won the ‘Delivering a sustainable future through technology’ challenge category in the Deloitte Australia-UK GRAVITY Challenge.

Their challenge, sponsored by SA Water, was to optimise water use and improve irrigation management using data sets, and communicate this information to customers to change behaviour and promote smart water use.

The Waterwise team members interests and skills range from software engineering to materials science and even mechatronics and robotics.

This allowed them to develop a comprehensive solution that included data from space but provided more through a sophisticated user interface for customers where informed data is presented in an engaging app.

The team, led by engineering student Amber Truong, now has the opportunity to work with SA Water to develop their concept into a pilot for public use.

This will mean the creation of a research agreement and potential follow-on work with other water utility providers.

“This was an exciting model of collaboration, where our students were exposed to something that very closely resembled a standard applied research project in digital technologies for an external partner,” says Swinburne Space Office Project Coordinator Dr Rebecca Allen. “With staff support our students are developing winning ideas that will hopefully translate to real solutions.”

The Waterwise team comprises undergraduate students Amber Truong, Christopher Dilger, and Navindu De Silva, PhD candidate Matthew Humbert, and Swinburne staff Dr Caslon Chua, Dr Michelle Dunn, Dr Francois Malherbe and Dr Rebecca Allen.

Engineering student Amber Truong

Waterwise student team leader, Amber Truong, is a proactive electrical and electronics student engineer who is passionate about STEM, humanitarian engineering and sustainability development.

“The challenge provided me and my peers with an opportunity to collaborate with academics whom otherwise we are only able to see and interact with during lectures,” Ms Truong says.

“Throughout this project, Waterwise sought to understand and empathise with SA Water. Because we always had SA Water and their customers’ best interest at heart, we were able to ask the right questions, design and propose a solution that met their need.”

About the Gravity Challenge

GRAVITY Challenge is a highly competitive accelerator program for corporates, entrepreneurs and universities across Australia and the UK to design and build solutions to real industry, social and environmental problems using space data and capability. The fast-paced accelerator takes place over a few months as the challenge creators, Deloitte, bring together industry partners with teams hoping their pitch will become a pilot.

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