Five awards were given out in early March at Lassonde’s annual BEST Startup Experience event to celebrate innovative startups created by students.
The BEST Startup Experience is designed to be part of an experiential learning opportunity for students to solve real-world problems in a team environment by creating projects related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This year, the event brought together over 300 undergraduate and graduate students to work in teams on more than 60 projects.
“These types of experiential learning activities provide students with unparalleled opportunity to acquire hands-on, practical knowledge and skills that they can apply in real-world scenarios,” says Maedeh Sedaghat, program manager, BEST. “Through active engagement in problem solving and collaboration, students are able to develop a deeper understanding of complex concepts and cultivate critical thinking, creativity, and adaptability.”
With support from their dedicated mentors, the students went through a structured learning journey using Design Sprint methodology and learned how to use various tools and techniques to create innovative solutions for real problems. The award winners, in particular, highlight the ongoing efforts of students and the University to move towards a more sustainable and equitable future.
First place went to Carbon Report (Alvin Chan, Arjit Johar, Nitya Bhatt, Mike Shen and Tiffany Kwan), an emission reporting and accounting software that focuses on collecting, analyzing, auditing and reporting data to regulators for oil and gas, metals and mining, manufacturing, and power and utilities. The project provides an all-in-one platform service that is accurate and affordable.
Second place was given to TranReality (Azwad Abid, Wachirawit Umpaipant, Madison Bardoel, Elijah Paulsen, John Brown and Francis Joseph Fajardo), a project that uses modular VR training programs to improve the retention of knowledge and baseline skill level for new employees when training them. The programs focus on bridging the gap between informational learning and on-the-go job training.
Third place and People’s Choice winner was Handi Fuel, (Muhammad Qasim, Daoud Ali, Jia Xu, Tarek Jarab, Mohamed Nizar, Sayed Suliman, Tariq Qureshey and Manala Perera), which aims to offer a full-service experience to those with disabilities or limited mobility when using a gas station. HandiFuel uses a robotic arm for fueling assistance. The team intends to work alongside the government, businesses and non-for-profit organizations to support drivers.
Additionally, two new awards were handed out at the event. The Special Award prize was given to a team named Yorkers (Shaheer Saif, Soo Min Yi, Jenny Zhao and Camie Wong), who worked on a project called LinkAssist, a digital platform for shelter staff that streamlines resource allocation and client data, allowing for a more efficient and cost-effective response to homelessness in the city of Toronto.
The Just Do It Award was given to Tiffin Time (Imam Khalid, Jason Yang, Shafin Mahmud, Tariq Syed and Masrur Rahman), a platform that connects producers and consumers to provide healthy and unique food options. This platform aims to make getting food from various cultures more convenient across Canada.
“One of the biggest takeaways from this experience has been the realization that with the right mindset, tools and techniques, we can overcome obstacles and achieve our goals,” says Rushanshah Saiyed, fourth-year computer engineering student.
For more on the program, visit the website.