UPEI students pitch ideas in Virtual Hackathon

UPEI students pitch their ideas in City of Charlottetown Virtual Hackathon
Posted on 05/06/2021
The following is a joint news release issued by the City of Charlottetown and the University of Prince Edward Island.

Teams of University of Prince Edward Island students spent their Saturday researching smart growth solutions for Charlottetown.

UPEI’s Experiential Education department and the City of Charlottetown partnered over the weekend to offer 24 UPEI students the opportunity to pitch their ideas on how Charlottetown can enable sustainable growth within the city. Students gathered virtually on Saturday, May 1, 2021, from across all levels of study and spent their day in interdisciplinary teams reading reports, conducting research, and working together to identify solutions that fit the unique needs of Prince Edward Island’s capital.

“There is so much value in collaborating with our post-secondary institutions on these initiatives, as they greatly benefit students and City staff,” said Councillor Mitchell Tweel, Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee. “These partnerships allow students to engage directly with their municipality and provide staff with a glimpse of the innovative ideas that the next generation is coming up with. The success of this event and the level of participation sends a clear message that young people care about their city and want to see it grow in a way that is smart and sustainable.”

To prepare students for the work, the City of Charlottetown provided students with dozens of reports, articles, presentations, and maps in advance of the hackathon. Manager of Environment and Sustainability Ramona Doyle, Manager of Planning and Heritage Alex Forbes, and Policy and Planning Intern with the ClimateSense Program Quinn Howard joined the group to summarize key considerations and judge students’ solutions. Teams had five minutes to pitch their ideas and emailed corresponding written submissions to give judges more detail on their plans.

The first-place team was composed of two fourth-year Business students, Priya Jain and Maddy Dinh. Second place went to Julia Brown, second-year Environmental Studies; YanKit Liu, second-year Computer Science; Tai Nguyen, second-year Master of Arts in Island Studies; and Russel Peden, fourth-year Sustainable Design Engineering. The top teams proposed multi-prong solutions, combining high-, medium-, and low-density development with investment in strategic transportation infrastructure.

UPEI has seen a growing interest from students across campus for hackathons, where students come together to hack a real-world problem. Students have found that the format allows them to network and have fun while gaining insight into the issues facing industries and communities in PEI. Megan MacLean, Acting Director of Experiential Education at UPEI, added, “Giving students opportunities to explore their interests and practice their skills in a variety of professional contexts makes a huge impact on their ability to set and achieve meaningful career goals throughout their studies and beyond.” For industry and community partners providing problems, hackathons offer fresh perspectives and innovative solutions from students with varied disciplinary expertise and experience.

Community members interested in working with UPEI students or learning more about partnership opportunities can visit www.upei.ca/exed or email [email protected].