After 54 hours hacking prototype solutions at Unearthed over the weekend, two teams for The University of Western Australia (UWA) went from exhaustion to elation within seconds as they were announced winners for solving Woodside Energy’s real-world challenges.

First prize winners were ‘Fat Controllers’ from Bloom for their vessel optimisation solution and ‘No Returns’ (a team with two Cooperative Education for Enterprise Development (CEED) students) won the Young Innovator Award for their Returns Rationalisation prototype. 

Energy and Minerals Director Mark Stickells congratulated all the teams on their creativity and success describing the hackathon environment as a tremendous catalyst for the future.  

“Once these smaller problems are solved in this setting, bigger problems will be dealt with and the opportunities for our Startup community, forward looking universities, as well as ‘the big end of town’ will grow,” he said. 

“This is the third Perth event that UWA, through EMI, has been involved and its success makes me optimistic for our future, it is the biggest hackathon ever with 105 participants and 22 participating teams,” he said.

Winners, the ‘Fat Controllers’ consisted of seven team members from Bloom: Mark Shelton BPhil (Hons) Computer Science student; Ilyas Ridhuan BSc(Hons) Computer Science student; Adrian Petersen MPhil Mathematics student; Tom Smoker Masters Professional Engineering Software Engineering student; Michael Ford; Dylan Johnston BSc Computer Science student; and Alex Khor MPhil Mathematics student. 

Their prototype optimised the packing and scheduling of cargo ships to service Woodside’s offshore facilities. The “Fat Controllers” realised that by delaying ships until they were almost full, they could reduce the number of trips made by the cargo ships by one-third without dramatically affecting time to delivery – resulting in a large cost saving.

Mark Shelton from ‘Fat Controllers’ said that competing in Unearthed allowed his team members to apply what they had learnt in a range of disciplines at University to a real-world industry problem.

“The best part for me was the active debate - so many different ideas were floated, from abstract matrix algebra to complicated neural networks. We spent almost a full day discussing how to tackle the problem before we started coding,” Mr Shelton said.

‘No Returns’ had five team members: Ashwin D’Cruz, Research Assistant with System Health Lab (2nd year hackathon winner); three students from the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics - Tom McKeon and Abdul Aziz 2nd year students in the Masters Professional Engineering (MPE) and CEED students; Rohan Mehra BPhil, 2nd year MPE student; and Professor Melinda Hodkiewicz, the BHP Fellow for Engineering for Remote Operations.

The team developed the NoReturnsDT tool which is a SAP to screen solution to predict in real-time, which parts will be returned in logistics supply chains. There are three parts to the tool: data parsing; analytics; and web visualisation. It would be used to support continuous improvements in logistics.

‘No Returns’ Tom McKeon said he didn’t know what to expect going into the competition as he had never competed before.

"It was a great opportunity - my coding skills massively increased in a few days together with my logical thinking and networking skills.

“About three quarters of the way through, we thought we weren’t going to find a solution but just in the last four hours – it all came together and Woodside was very interested in our results,” Mr McKeon said.  

Justin Strharsky from the Resource Innovation through Information Technology (RIIT) group, who facilitate the event, said we are building an ecosystem that is robust and building opportunities for entrepreneurs.  

“The oil and gas sector needs the skills that were at the competition and this will lead to  improvements in productivity and efficiency – just take this hackathon for instance,  Woodside saw four or five potential solutions to their challenges.

“The event format lowers the barriers to experimentation and expedites the development of proof-to-concept solutions to high value resource sector problems.

“Industry commented about the high level of talent that existed at the hackathon and they were surprised by the value that could be applied to their business from people with limited experience in their company,” Mr Strharsky said.

Other prize winners consisted of representatives from the oil and gas industry, the Bank Holiday team came second with their Ship Stream vessel optimisation prototype and the Ontrack Team, won the CIIC Prize for their Fitness for Work Ontrack prototype.  

The next Unearthed MineHack from 13 to 15 May, is at BHP Billiton, 125 St Georges Tce, Perth, WA. 

Register here

Image: The UWA 'Fat Controllers' team won first prize at the hackathon for their prototype optimising vessel packaging and scheduling. 




Media reference

EMI Communications Coordinator Nicola Holman +61 439 906 200