The winner of the Maker Games rapid prototyping competition has been announced.

This event enabled students to develop and pitch solutions addressing wicked problems industry giants are currently facing. Almost 1,000 UNSW engineering students had signed up, and from 115 pitches, the industry partners picked 17 teams of four to six students whose proposals they wanted to take under their wing, working with the teams over the past twelve weeks to help refine their ideas.

Some of these wicked problems included increasing accessibility to the vision impaired, reducing energy consumption of mobile stations, and using mixed reality to aid in construction and design.

Teams were asked to pitch their ideas at the final Showcase last Saturday to a judging panel with the chance to be rewarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Silicon Valley.

A group of UNSW engineering students, Henry Blumentals, Matthew Eyles, Vanja Videnovic, Michael Irwin and Matthew Buffa, came together to form Team Raven and took away the winning prize on the day with a solution that harnesses the power of IOT to help track gas cylinders and reduce the costs involved with the gas bottle industry. By monitoring gas usage over different periods of time, it can be used to form individualised customer usage predictions to create a more automated gas refilling process.

Using the team’s wide repertoire of skills, from computer science, mechatronics, to aerospace and renewable energy engineering, they developed a working prototype and tested it by moving gas cylinders around UNSW’s Kensington campus, tracking it via long range radio.

“The key goal for a gas bottle company is to never leave an empty cylinder in the field,” said Blumentals.

“Cylinders often go missing or are mishandled, or distributors don’t know when they need to be refilled. Our system indicates when cylinders are spent, where they can be found, and where they are during transport, minimising down time.”

Another team, Find Your Future, harnessed data supplied by Commonwealth Bank to develop a web app for people facing a career transition. “We’ve had data scientists, people in strategy, people in technology who have been able to mentor us through this process,” said team member Linda Zhang, an electrical engineering student.

“They let us know what data sources are available and helped us build something that is not only feasible but marketable.”

William Weng, a computer science and mechatronics student of Team Tiptap, acknowledged the importance of feedback from real users. Tiptap’s challenge was to make the Commonwealth Bank’s Albert payment stations more accessible to customers with visual impairments.

Early prototypes were “a bit confusing”, said Weng, but the team used that feedback to improve later iterations.

Another group, Team Foresight, created an augmented reality Android app that superimposes construction industry design files onto a mobile phone camera image, allowing users to visualise hidden infrastructure such as pipes and wiring.

Member Ainharan Subramaniam, a computer science student, credits their industry partners Westfield with expanding the team’s ideas and helping them think about its broader applications.

The five members of Team Raven will take their all-expenses-paid trip to California to visit Silicon Valley icons and all the hot new start-ups later this year.