Robotics, cloud services, virtual reality, and a host of apps were among the tech innovations created by RMIT computer science and IT students during the Industry Summer Project program.
The final awards ceremony at RMIT Storey Hall brought students, staff and industry sponsors together to celebrate the program and highlight the diverse range of industry-led projects, covering areas from travel to crisis communication, banking and even the prediction of bi-polar episodes.
Taking first place, iOS app Medwatch works with Apple Watch to monitor personal health and fitness and is the brainchild of computer science students Vinayak Mani and Fan Zhang, in collaboration with industry sponsor Gnosis Technology.
On collecting his prize, Bachelor of Computer Science student Fan Zhang paid tribute to the Industry Summer Project program run for computer science and IT students in the School of Science.
"The Industry Summer Project is the place that magic happens,” he said.
“It brought us out of our ivory towers and facilitated us to tap into industry and I appreciate everyone who helped provide this opportunity."
Reflecting the eclectic mix of projects, industry sponsors came from various sectors, such as, banking, medicine, communications, and energy, and organisations large and small, including, ANZ bank, State Government, Alfred Hospital, as well as small tech companies.
While the diversity of industry collaborators reflects the way technology is involved in most areas of life and work, for project sponsors the Industry Summer Project program also provides access to RMIT’s talented pool of aspiring tech problem solvers, according to Bill Lee of Scientific Technology.
“Over the years through a number of collaborative projects we have valued our connection with RMIT, so we readily agreed to participate in the Industry Summer Project program, especially as we could have an input into the actual project task and the process for selection of the student,” he said.
“Our project involved developing a smartphone app that could watermark photographic images stored on an android smartphone’s Photo Gallery and we’re very glad to say that the task was successfully accomplished, while Jian Cheng was an excellent student to work with.
“We expect to have further involvement with Jian, and also for us to further participate in the program.”
Working on a real world project is an excellent way for students to get genuine work experience and it can also lead to further opportunities with the industry partner, says Dr Ron Van Schyndel, the program leader.
"Students generally enjoyed the slice of real-life that it gives, but at the same time, relished the prospect of showing off their problem-solving skills to a potential employer," he said.
"Of the students with industry-sponsored projects, five to six went on to further work with the same employer, one even before graduating."
Projects are not internships and must have defined outcomes, according to Van Schyndel, so that during the two months’ duration of the project the student can focus on end targets, and the employer can see the student in action solving problems.
"The students in the winning project helped build a prototype that the start-up involved can use to obtain further support for future work, and the students could see first-hand the processes involved in seeking such support from industry and government, as seen from the start-up perspective," he said.
Bachelor of Computer Science student Benjamin Rayner is part of the team that were runners up in the awards ceremony, after working with ANZ to develop an app that will be used extensively across the bank’s internal operations.
“The summer projects were an exceptional glimpse into working for a large organisation,” he said.
While Rayner and his team were excited about helping to develop a product that will be used across ANZ business sectors, they also gained crucial experience in collaborating with a team of experienced and senior people within the business.
“To be recognised for the work we’ve put into the project as a team is great, as we’ve come from a variety of backgrounds and possess different skills, so to win second place is a testament to good teamwork, and the occasional late night coding session,” Rayner said.
“The experience was incredibly rewarding, as how often do a group of students have the opportunity to contribute to a project that has the potential to reach up to 50,000 employees within an organisation?
“The summer projects aren’t just academic exercises, these are real business problems that need solutions.”
RMIT would like to thank all the industry partners involved in the program, including ANZ, ABB, Proximiti, Briggs Communications, the Victorian State Government, Gnosis Technology, Scientific Technology, and Alfred Hospital.
For organisations looking to get involved in the Industry Summer Project program, and sponsor a student project, please contact Dr Ron Van Schyndel firstname.lastname@example.org or +61 3 9925 9677.
Story: Daniel Walder