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CQUni student Engineers team up to help Isaac: Hackathon spurs social innovation, inspiration

CQUni student Engineers team up to help Isaac: Hackathon spurs social innovation, inspiration

Published:12 July 2017

Nicka Mateo, Tahlilah Pep, and Doris Xiriha will unveil a prototype that will help individuals with cerebral palsy, like Isaac, write between the lines, at the Mackay Hackathon open day on 23 July.

Isaac Butler, 9, has cerebral palsy, and as such, his hand grip is weak and often he experiences uncontrollable movements, making it hard for him to write between the lines and undertake important tests like NAPLAN.

To address this issue, a team of CQUni Mackay Engineering students have joined forces to create a device that will assist Isaac – and other special-needs people who require help to write between the lines – to overcome this issue.

On 23 July, Nicka Mateo, Tahlilah Pep, and Doris Xiriha will unveil their prototype at the Assistive Devices Hackathon (an innovative Queensland Government advanced manufacturing program) taking place at CQUni Mackay’s Ooralea Campus.

The Hackathon was created to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and increase their independence, mobility and choices.

Doris described Isaac as "a determined and charismatic little boy who wants to achieve".

"If we can do a good job and create something that helps Isaac and many others, we have the potential to change lives; this is an amazing experience,” she said.

This event spans three locations – Mackay, Toowoomba and Townsville – and coincides with the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Isaac is one of four Mackay locals who will have their needs addressed by Hackathon teams.

David Conway is keen to see the creation of a wheelchair pedometer come to fruition. He’s also working with a second Hackathon team to create a device that will allow vision-impaired individuals to read fine print.

Ross Davidson, “who prefers a good book over an electronic one”, is working with his team to create a page-turning device to enable those without hand mobility to read books.

And Gary Matthews is seeking an apparatus that will allow a wheelchair-bound person to clean the blades of a fan.

Hackathon events are the latest in a $420 million Advance Queensland suite of programs designed to create the knowledge-based jobs of the future.

Hackathon team members will spend about two months taking part in pre-event workshops to brainstorm ideas and innovations, with the three-day main event – the Mackay Hackathon – taking place on 21-23 July at CQUni Mackay’s Engineering building at Ooralea Campus.

The team with the best concept will receive support to further develop their ideas and potentially commercialise their technology.

CQUni’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Engagement, Campuses and Mackay-Whitsunday Region, Professor Pierre Viljoen, said CQUni Mackay was honoured to host the event and proud to see the University’s Engineering students participating.

“Social innovation is at the core of our strategic vision and for many years has been entrenched in our core values,” he said.

“At CQUni, we strive to empower our staff and students to make a difference, create an impact and influence the world in which we live, for the betterment of society.

“The Hackathon will no doubt improve the lives of people with disabilities in regional Queensland and potentially worldwide and we are grateful for the opportunity to both support and take part in such an incredibly powerful and socially innovative initiative.”

The Assistive Devices Hackathon presentation day on Sunday 23 July is open to the public and free of charge.

The event will take place at CQUni Mackay’s Engineering building (number 24 on Ooralea Campus) from 2 pm to 4.30 pm.

Register to attend the event via THIS LINK.