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March 5, 2019 2:54 PM

Student projects support Smart Waterloo Region initiative

Students in Conestoga’s engineering and technology programs used their study break during the last week of February to participate in the college’s 4x4 Challenge. The event gives participants the opportunity to explore and solve real-world problems while showcasing their entrepreneurial and technical skills. 

Conestoga College - 4x4 Challenge 2019.jpg
A project titled Astral Life, developed by seven Conestoga students, finished the college's 4x4 Challenge in first place. This year's theme focused on solutions for healthy children and youth.

Ig Kolenko, director, Centre for Smart Manufacturing and Digital Innovation, launched the event in 2012. The name of the challenge was drawn from the concept that a minimum of four teams had four days to design and implement solutions for industry projects.

“Congratulations to all for the effort and the incredible quality of your projects,” said Kolenko before announcing the winners. “This was not the easiest challenge in terms of the theme. You’re all students in our IT programs - you’re not psychologists or child educators.”

This year’s theme was "Solutions for Healthy Children and Youth" which supports the goals of Smart Waterloo Region. The region and area municipalities have partnered on a proposal for the Government of Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge. Through the proposal, and in partnership with child and youth service providers, educational partners, technology companies, and children and youth, the region will leverage technology and data solutions to overcome challenges related to early childhood development, literacy and mental health.

The 4x4 participants began their projects on February 26 and presented their work on Friday, March 1 at the 4x4 Showcase held at Grand Innovations in Cambridge.

Projects included MapleReader, which aims to solve declining literacy rates in Ontario, and My Thoughts - an application for youth with mental health issues to help them practise self-improvement in a way that is private and comfortable. Another project, AVoid, is an augmented reality mobile game designed to improve the cognitive learning of youth while engaging them in green space in their local communities.

First place was awarded to students Andril Denysenko, Johnathan Drukten, Karen Gallego, Nahej Lefebvre, Tymofil Nimets, Tomas Schwember and Dima Tkachuk who developed Astral Life - an application designed to facilitate motivation by helping users reach their goals and break bad habits or fears. The team was awarded a $1,000 prize.

Other winners included:

  • Second place, $500: Brad Burton, Spencer Donaghy, T.J. McIntosh
  • Third place, $300: Alex Kozak, Trevor Allain, Jacob Funes, Tudor Lupu
  • Fourth place, $150: Leveson Cocarell, David Pitter, Bobby Vu, Carl Wilson
  • Fifth place, $100: Samuel Guta, Hyunbin Park, Julio Rivas

Prizes were funded through donations from DSPace, Region of Waterloo, entrepreneur Ravin Persad, and Ig Kolenko.

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