Monday, 07 October 2019 12:29

RMIT students win hackathon with app focused on tackling ‘non-recyclable’ waste problem

RMIT hackathon winning team - (left to right):  Nhi Luu Uyen Huynh, Sam Breznikar, Saneyar Tajjdeen Khazin and Sam Nolan (Mentor) RMIT hackathon winning team - (left to right): Nhi Luu Uyen Huynh, Sam Breznikar, Saneyar Tajjdeen Khazin and Sam Nolan (Mentor)

Three RMIT students who launched an ‘Up-Cycle’ marketplace app dominated the recent RMIT Vonex Hackathon – with their innovation setting sights on tackling non-recyclable waste and “taking over” from Facebook marketplace and Gumtree why they say are not doing enough to tackle the waste problem.

With the hackathon - a collaboration between ASX-listed telecommunications company Vonex and RMIT Programming Club – the winning students of the first Vonex RMIT Hackathon - Sam Breznikar, Nhi Luu Uyen Huynh, and Saneyar Tajjdeen Khazin - took out the prize ahead of dozens of other students.

“We developed ‘Up-Cycle’, a peer-to-peer swap and giveaway marketplace for pre-loved goods. It’s aimed to be the first app completely dedicated to addressing non-recyclable waste – setting it completely apart from competitors like Gumtree and Facebook marketplace who we don’t think do enough to drive this,” RMIT student Sam Breznikar said.

“The free ‘Up-Cycle’ app engages users happy to swap, sell, or give away their goods focused solely on non-recyclable waste.

“With waste one of our greatest challenges – this app gives people a way to contribute to tackling it. The amount of landfill we produce is staggering. We only have one earth, and its resources are limited. So ‘Up-cycle’ is more urgent than ever,” Breznikar said.

The two-day industry and university collaborative event enabled more than 20 contestants to tackle real-world sustainability challenges like investigating advanced electronic personal transport and creating apps to show locations of electric scooter charging points.

The winners took out prizes of three Mac Book Pros and will have the opportunity to have internships with leading tech companies including Vonex, My Net Phone Group, Volume, and ID digital.

“There’s nothing like getting completely out of your knowledge and comfort zones to get you focused on creating something great. The time pressure and being on show in front of leaders in the field – it really is a "do-or-die" situation,” Breznikar said.

Breznikar and his team used Flutter and Dart for the User Intelligence, and Golang for the server backend, and also used MongoDB Atlas for storage and hosted the server on a cloud VPS.

“We ended with a total of 14 API endpoints provided by the server, and 5-6 pages or components in the frontend,” Breznikar said.

“Building and deploying the backend server from scratch served as a solid intro to web development for me, having never worked with the server-side of APIs before.”

Vonex Chief Technology Officer and founder Angus Parker said the company was proud to champion the event focused on supporting students and creating real-world technologies to tackle environmental challenges.

“Sustainability is one of the most pressing issues of today – it’s about enabling students to use their incredible talents and creativity to develop innovations to that have real world potential – and create environmental solutions.

“It’s also about giving students the chance to show their talents beyond the boundaries of the classroom – to employers across a wide range of industries.

“Mentor employers had the privilege of seeing these great minds at work – and we judged the winners on their level of technical skills and innovation.

“Sam, Nhi, and Saneyar all led the way in how they collaborated, worked under pressure, and used their skills to create invaluable solutions with real potential.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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