Saturday, the 30th of May, HACT Pty Ltd held an awards ceremony, for the first event of their inaugural hs.hact.io program, held in April earlier this year. The awards ceremony was held in the University of Canberra’s Inspire Centre, located at the university’s Bruce campus. Matt Stimson, CEO of HACT Pty Ltd, led the proceedings, utilising the room’s large television display to present videos recorded during the event. The hs.hact.io program aims to encourage students to participate in, and pursue careers in, information and communications technologies (ICT). Student works arising out of the event were showcased in a side room, adjoining the main room. The works exhibited the participating student’s remarkable aptitude in technology, everything from robotic hands to computer games and pitch videos were on display. The student’s works alone were impressive; when combined with the commercial awareness of event mentors and organisers, they clearly exhibited the makings of successful careers in ICT.
Mr Stimson began the ceremony by telling the crowd he couldn’t believe it had already been six weeks since the first event of the program. Mr Stimson then detailed the prizes to be awarded to students “…seven thousand dollars in cash prizes, to award the excellent work that came out of the very first high school hackathon. I thought it was a fantastic format, I haven’t really seen it trailed anywhere else. Thank you for taking the chance on us; our post-event feedback surveys were absolutely fantastic.” Mr Stimson then played an introductory video (see link below) which gave a broad overview of the event, and the student’s remarkable achievements from the weekend. After the video finished Mr Stimson told the crowd that he wished to keep a relaxed feel to the proceedings, the main attraction being the student works on display.
Mr Stimson explained that there were nine award categories to be featured, before thanking both the University of Canberra and Canberra Boys Grammar, for the use of their facilities. Each award was accompanied by a short video which gave a synopsis of the award, its stream and relevant student achievements. The majority of the awards carried with them a five hundred dollar cash prize, handsome pocket money for the students who participated.
- The first award was for Best Website, awarded to Nick B.
- The second award was for Best Mobile App, awarded to the Wallet Mate team.
- The third award was for Best Game, awarded to the Jellometry team.
- The fourth award was that Best 3D Artwork, awarded to Sam D.
After Sam collected his award Mr Stimson played another video, before thanking Canberra based business Made for Me, for supplying the 3D printers used in the event. Mr Stimson told the crowd, light-heartedly, that the students had managed to break all but one of the printers provided.
- The next award was for Best 3D Print, awarded to Molly M, who built the beginnings of a functioning robot hand, an amazing accomplishment for someone so young. Mr Stimson explained, again light-heartedly, how he and the event’s mentors immediately thought of Sky Net (the self-aware technology of the Terminator franchise) upon viewing the hand.
Before introducing the next award, Mr Stimson explained how “these things don’t happen easily, it takes a lot of support, from a lot of organisations. Each of these prizes, from here on out, actually have different organisations attached to them. I think they deserve the recognition, to be honest,” said Mr Stimson.
- The award for Best Pitch Video went to the highly successful Wallet Mate team. The award was sponsored by Digital Careers, a company which is focused on increasing the number of skilled ICT graduates in Australia. Digital Careers run the Young ICT Explorers competition, a fantastic event which compliments the hs.hact.io program.
- The next award was that of Best Start-up Potential, sponsored by Cogito Group, an ICT company which provides organisations with digital security solutions. Cogito group won the Telstra Business Award for best start-up in 2014. Company representatives, CEO, Richard Brown, and Marketing Manager, Bernadette Brown, took to the stage to announce not one, but three winners. The winning teams were the following: Challenger, Wallet Mate and HuntPro.
Mr Stimson took the stage once more and explained how the event had the potential to help diversify Canberra’s economy. Mr Stimson then detailed the generous nature of Canberran’s “… part of the reason why the event needed to be put on and more regularly, is that we ran an Indiegogo campaign in the lead up to this event. Canberra’s generous spirit came forward, we actually raised almost eighteen thousand dollars, to go into putting on this first event.” After having received some many generous pledges, the organisers of hs.hact.io decided to ask supporters to cast their vote for the People’s Choice award, which carried with it a one thousand dollar cash prize.
The Wallet Mate team took home the prize, leaving one final category remaining, that of Major Winner. The award was sponsored by the CBR Innovation Network. Mr Stimson said of CBR Innovation Network’s contribution to the event “… they just jumped straight into this event and backed us. That gave us the shoot in the arm to go ahead and put on what turned out to be a great event, so we’re indebted to them for that.” Dr Sarah Pearson, CEO of the CBR Innovation Network, then took the stage to speak about how the network was excited to sponsor the event and the team behind it. “We were absolutely delighted once we found out this was what Matt wanted to do, for several reasons.” Dr Pearson went on to list the following as reasons why the network was both excited and happy to help: the personal qualities of Mr Stimson; the role of the network in promoting Canberra as a connected and entrepreneurial city; encouraging student participation in STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) and the unexpected development of a student run start-up during the event. Dr Pearson also detailed another CBR Innovation Network supported program, Stir, an online competition to provide micro-grants for entrepreneurship in the Canberra region. The Stir website received ten thousand hits over two months, with six thousand of these being unique visitors.
Returning to the final award of the evening, Dr Pearson described how the CBR Innovation Network had chosen to award a student who exhibited the qualities and potential the event sought to encourage. “That person, basically we believe, has the capacity to take this innovation, this entrepreneurial concept and make it go viral in the ACT. This person has shown that they really want to encourage lots of other young people to come and do this with them. That person, I’m proud to say, is Mia B.” Mia received the two thousand, five hundred dollar cash prize attached to the award. Mr Stimson took the stage again, thanking everyone who made the event possible, both its corporate sponsors and numerous volunteers. Mr Stimson then went on to detail hs.hact.io’s upcoming schedule for the July school holidays.
- Over the weekend of the 4th and 5th of July, an event will be held at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, located in Watson.
- Over the following weekend of the 10th to 12th of July, a second event will be held at Canberra Boys Grammar. This event will feature the new additions of components in film, audio, robotics and electronics. More exciting news surrounding these events is set to be announced shortly.
Having finished the formal component of the proceedings, Mr Stimson invited those in attendance to move into the adjoining room, to view the student works showcased.
The hs.hact.io program is an amazing, innovative opportunity for students, please visit hs.hact.io for more information.
For our previous coverage of the event, click here.
hact.io was announced as a participant in the Griffin Accelerator this morning! Click here for full details.