Winning Telstra University Challenge team make litter pickup fun

Students from across Monash University recently came together to win the 2016 Telstra University Challenge...

bin monster team
Bin Monster team

Students from across Monash University recently came together to win the 2016 Telstra University Challenge with a fun and interactive solution to engage school students in picking up litter.

The Monash team devised a way to make rubbish collection into a game, by creating a sensor-laden rubbish bin with a larger-than-life personality. Their bins, or Bin Monsters, have colour coded buttons so that students can collect points for their house team each time they feed the monster some rubbish.

Keep Australia Beautiful was one of five not-for-profit organisations who partnered with Telstra for this year’s challenge, and they provided the team’s brief of creating positive social change to combat  littering.

Monash student team leader Wong Wai Mun was enthusiastic about the win. “The whole team feels strongly about reducing littering in Australia and we hope that our solution can help change the culture around littering from the grassroots,” she said.

The team was made up of students from several faculties including information technology, engineering, business, science and art, design and architecture.

Financial grants, consultancy and networking with Telstra and sponsors are among the benefits the team will receive as winners.

Wai Mun had high praise for the team’s mentor. “Professor Chris Behrenbruch’s entrepreneurial experience allowed him to gently guide us to make sure our solution was not only marketable, but profitable. We all valued his insight and wisdom, as well as fun-loving nature, which helped  us  to create a well-rounded solution.”

The comments of Professor Behrenbruch show the admiration went both ways: “Monash students are among the best and the brightest I have worked with anywhere and the success of the team was a stunning lesson for me in the effectiveness of diversity. From the very beginning it was clear this was  a  special team of students and I am really impressed with what they accomplished. Frankly, all you can ever hope for as a ‘mentor’ is to be blown-away... and I was.”

The Bin Monsters connect to a simple but effective platform powered by various sensors and the Telstra 4GX network. The data from the Bin Monsters is also small enough to be sent over networks for Internet of Things devices.

Of her experience creating the Bin Monsters Wai Mun said, “I’ve certainly gained a better understanding of how to float and critique ideas in a multi-disciplinary team. We had some truly exceptional minds on the team, and I was so amazed at the ideas they came up with!”