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March 7, 2020 8:56 PM

Students develop sustainable solutions at annual hackathon

Students pitched innovative solutions to the college community on March 6 at the 4X4 Challenge Showcase. Hosted at Grand Innovations in Cambridge, the event was a culmination of a four-day hackathon that gave participants the opportunity to explore and solve real-world problems while showcasing their entrepreneurial and technical skills. 

Conestoga College_4X4 2020.jpg
Judges awarded first place to Mateus Gurgel, Wesley Martin, Manuel Poppe Richter and Adam Tunkiewicz for Turi at the 2020 4X4 Challenge Showcase.

Open to all Conestoga students, the 4X4 Challenge invites participants to compete for prizes while flexing design skills. Working in teams or as individuals, students have four days to design and implement solutions to a set industry challenge. 

This year, close to 60 students in 20 teams were challenged to address sustainable and digital tourism through solutions to issues such as overtourism, accessibility and economic development. Projects included virtual reality programs, applications to encourage local tourism and community involvement, and services that promote sustainability. 

“I am so proud of the work Conestoga students are capable of,” said Ignac Kolenko, hackathon host and executive director at the college’s SMART (Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Recycling Technologies) Centre, before announcing competition results. “You’ve shown industry that you are job-ready and have the skills needed to solve the world’s problems.”

Judges awarded first place to Mateus Gurgel, Wesley Martin, Manuel Poppe Richter and Adam Tunkiewicz for Turi — a trip planning application that manages tourist traffic around a city by predicting peak times and suggesting alternative itineraries to travelers. The idea is that Turi helps cities reduce the effects of overtourism by distributing tourists throughout the city and stimulates economies by redirecting them to lesser-known local establishments.

As part of their top honour, the group received a cash prize of $1,200 and entry into the Venture Lab at the Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective, as well as a spot in the college’s Pitch Day competition to be held later in the year. 

Second place went to Andrii Denysenko, Nahej Lefebvre, Dmytro Tkachuk and Bohdana Tyshchenko for their sustainability application, Envent. Helping event organizers and attendees stay more environmentally friendly and contribute to sustainable digital tourism, the application offers online leaflet alternatives, reusable container circulation management and trash analysis. The group received $800, as well as an additional $200 for being named most sustainable solution.  

Other winners included:

  • Third place, $500: Alex Casse and Yuhe Yuan for Travel Quest — an application providing an interactive scavenger hunt to promote sustainable behaviours.
  • Fourth place, $240: Alaa Kabbani and Aileen Pou for Boost — a travel planning application for those with a special need or disability in an effort to make travelling a stress-free reality for everyone. 
  • Fifth place, $150 (tie): Brandon Brading, Frederic Chappuis, Philip Kempton and Blake Riddle for OpenToursVR — a VR tourism application allowing users to experience an immersive world without having to travel. 
  • Fifth place, $150 (tie): Jeonghwan Ju, Hyelyen Kim, Heuijin Ko and Yoonho Lee for Travel Shooting — an event ticketing and job recruitment website to address accessibility to large-scale festivals and workforce needs. 

The 4X4 challenge was launched in 2012 by Kolenko to celebrate Conestoga students’ entrepreneurial and problem-solving skills, and runs annually over Student Success Week in the winter term. 2020 competition prizes were funded by CAA, Brant County Economic Development, Thinking North, Tekgenz, and Kolenko. 

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