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Nine UNBers make finals for Atlantic AquaHacking Challenge

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Jun 30, 2020

Category: UNB Fredericton , UNB Saint John

The Atlantic Canadian division of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation’s AquaHacking Challenge has announced its five finalist teams, with nine UNB students and alumni making the cut.

AquaHacking Challenges are nine-month programs held across Canada in which competitors work to solve water-related problems, including issues with potability and industrial pollution. The Atlantic version was organized by Saint Mary’s University’s Atlantic Water Network. The competition is open to participants aged 18 to 35, with $50,000 in prize money available. For the Atlantic Canadian challenge, teams are competing to develop technologies or businesses that will address one of five pre-selected topics: algal blooms, agricultural runoff, drinking water treatment, well water testing, and microplastic pollution.

The finalists, announced Thursday, June 18, were chosen from 16 teams. About a third of the 116 people who participated were undergraduate students, another third were graduate students and the rest were young industry professionals.

Two of the teams who made it to the finals are represented by the University of New Brunswick. Jonathan Kan and his team “The Well Warriors” aim to create an online service called Clarify, which will guide customers through the process of testing their well water for contaminates – such as lead – using kits purchased from the group’s website. Rachel Hudson, Nathan McNally, Grace McNally, Sochima Nnama, Patrick Palmer, Lauren Martin, Ben Veysey and Mudiwa Mharapara and their team “The Water Innovators” are designing a renewable energy-powered water distillation system for isolated communities. They plan to make it small enough to fit inside an industrial shipping container. Water distillation is a more effective method of cleaning drinking water than traditional filtration technology, according to the group.

In September, the remaining participants will compete for prizes ranging in value from $2,500 up to $20,000 for the winning team. New for the 2020 competition, winners will also have the opportunity to see their prize money matched and potentially doubled by Mitacs, a national research funding group. Before receiving those rewards, teams must participate in leadership training, conferences with First Nations leaders, a virtual “e-expedition” networking event, ongoing mentorship from industry luminaries and a pitch competition.

“Congratulations to our AquaHacking finalists. These students and young professionals have been working on creating innovative strategies to solve some of Atlantic Canada’s most pressing water issues,” says Danielle Smith, UNB sustainability coordinator.

UNB wishes good luck to all the teams as they move on to phase two.

Media contact: Kelsey Pye