Hackathon internship winners: Design Summer at UTS

by Oct 22, 2019

This September, the Student Council Liaison Group hosted a forum for UTS students to voice feedback on their UTS experience – an annual session that gives us a chance to let the uni know what we’d like to see on campus.

In years past, we’ve had a fairly static Q and A panel session which wasn’t that popular. So in 2019 we decided to shake things up and run an event called Design Summer at UTS – a design thinking hackathon aimed at addressing one area of our student experience – Summer Session!

The best thing? The winning team would receive a paid, 2-week internship at UTS to implement their idea for improving the Summer Session. 

 Our design ‘problem’ (or let’s say, ‘opportunity’)

 With Summer Session leading into its fourth year running and enrolments climbing, we asked our 75 participating students to ideate on the question: ‘How might we design a great summer experience at UTS?’

Group of students in classroom, hands raised

We had ideas a-plenty.


Working in groups (who had only met on the day!) students had free-range of our new collaborative classrooms in UTS Central (if you haven’t seen them, do so! They’ll open in Autumn Session next year). 


Students around a table, problem solving with post-it notes

Time to get thinking.


With 2 hours on the clock, students were given design thinking tools to tackle this real-life, tangible problem.


Students around a table in discussion


As well as a chance to provide ideas on improving campus life, the team with the winning idea would receive a 2-week paid internship and budget to make their idea happen. Meaning that not only would UTS be an even more inviting place to be during summer, but these students could also get some entrepreneurial career experience creating and implementing their great idea. Nice!

The winning idea…

When pitch time came students proposed a huge range of ideas, from overhauling the enrolment process to cross-cultural Christmas and Chinese New Year parties!


Different colour post-it notes on a desk

Post-it notes full of summer greatness.


And although blue-sky thinking was encouraged, a big factor for the judging panel’s hackathon winner was how ‘implementable’ the idea would be for this coming Summer Session.

They wanted students to use their problem solving skills to create a solution that would both help UTS students who were on campus over summer, and be workable for UTS as a whole. By navigating this process of balancing priorities, ideating as a team, tackling existing constraints, and thinking outside of the box, students were not only offering the judges great ideas, but also showing that they’d be great interns if they won.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Education and Students), Professor Shirley Alexander, UTS Council member, Michelene Collopy, and UTS Careers Manager, Julieanne Cutrupi, selected Team 13 as the winning group who would be offered the internship at UTS.


Winning team holding certificates

Our judging panel awarding Team 13.


Team 13’s winning idea was to centralise the information about summer activities and create a calendar of student events so that on-campus students would know what’s happening over the Summer Session. Their insight was that, with less students on campus over summer and many friends off travelling or working, those attending Summer Session need more opportunities to meet other students.

As well as a calendar of existing events, Team 13 also suggested organising additional summer programming (think movie nights, theme events, parties, sports or karaoke).

Team 13 really showed that great things can come out of random encounters. The team – Veronica Lauria, Ahmed Da’na, Luke Whitehill and Michelle Steffe – include undergraduate and postgraduate students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UTS Business School and Faculty of Design Architecture and Building. 

Luke said their goal was to create a great buzz on campus over summer.

Personally, it was really rewarding seeing students work together. Design thinking is such a valuable skill, and UTS has received some incredible ideas as a result of this competition. Plus, the participants have gained some pretty invaluable experience in building the soft skills employers will be looking for in the future – a win-win!

I’m really excited to see what Team 13 produce for Summer Session.


Team 13 will begin their two-week internship in the coming weeks and have been awarded a budget to put together a business plan for their idea. We’re excited to see what they come up with that will make Summer Session life all the better!

Thinking about studying over summer? Find out more about Summer Session.

Aaron Ngan

Aaron Ngan

Postgraduate Student Representative, UTS Council and Deputy Chair, UTS Student/Council Liaison Group