QUT’s Summer holiday program launched on Saturday 11 January with an extra special showcase of QUT’s research and hands-on activities for the whole family. Families saw The Living Reef on The Cube’s 10-metre screens for the first time, explored sea creatures at the marine discovery sessions and had the chance to meet QUT researchers including Matt Dunbabin, Brett Lewis and the Virtual Reef Diver team.
On Thursday 16 January, a group of budding entrepreneurs joined us at The Cube for The Reef Challenge to tackle environmental issues and pitch a product or service which could benefit the Great Barrier Reef.
This workshop was facilitated by Scott Millar and the team from BOP Industries. The students heard from a range of expert speakers including QUT researcher and social scientist Karen Vella, who shared her insights into what social scientists do and how community collaboration is a key ingredient to helping the reef.
They listened to QUT student and CEO of Anti Ordinary Rob Joseph, share his start-up story of how he developed an innovative new product using his engineering knowledge and a love of outdoor sports. Reef Check Australia ambassadors Gemma and Rose shared their insights into key issues impacting the Reef.
QUT Entrepreneurship supported the day with their professional team of staff Graham Fellows, Peta Ellis, Aaron Birkby, Eleanor Carey and Vibhor Pandey acting as mentors and judges. The Entrepreneurship team provided the students with insights into what makes a successful business idea, and got them thinking about their competitors, and how to scale their concepts.
Our young entrepreneurs worked in groups to brainstorm their ideas and then create a short presentation to pitch their product or service to the judges. All of the teams did an incredible job using their creativity to develop ideas for social enterprises, varying from bags made from bananas, to underwater robots, coffee cups that track the number of disposable cups saved, eco-friendly stationery, and even high value foods that could help the Reef!
There were three winning teams. Most Entrepreneurial Idea was awarded by QUT Entrepreneurship and went to team “Better than Plastic”, for their eco-friendly banana bag. The runner ups teams were “Run off Raiders” who proposed a range of board shorts and swimwear made from reclaimed waste plastics, and “Go Reef” with their novel Reef Skimmer drone to clean up oily water behind polluting sea vessels.
Throughout the past eight days The Cube has been a hub for exploration, with visitors interacting with The Living Reef project as well as diving into a range of hands-on activities. New reef inhabitants were created at Ocean Creations, drivers learnt to navigate Sphero through the sea obstacles, and virtual reality was a favourite by those who attended the Reef 3D & VR workshop and The Living Reef VR. Visitors also had the chance to get in some serious science by testing out water quality and studying coral samples at QUT’s Research Zone and Water works workshop.
Thank you to all our wonderful visitors for sharing your enthusiasm for the reef, our project collaborators and QUT ambassadors that have contributed to the program.