UWindsor Team Brings Home Award at Erie Hack Competition

by: Layan Barakat
Amazing things happen when great minds come together and that couldn’t be truer for Dylan Verburg and Vinay Thapliyal, two members of our EPIC team. Dylan, a graduate student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program, was first introduced to our facilities when he became an EPIC Student Ambassador. From there, he joined the first cohort of changemakers in our Libro EPIC Social Impact Initiative with his company INpact Collective a non-profit organization that sells hand-made Indian garments and accessories with all funds promoting educational empowerment of children in India and the rest of the developing world. Vinay, an undergraduate student in the Law Department, also began his journey as an EPIC Student Ambassador. A journey that lead him into our EPIC Founders Program where he is currently working towards building his company Lingo, a service matching website that helps non-English speakers find local service providers that alleviate the language barrier. The two met at one of EPICentre’s mixer events and the rest, as they say, was history. 
Together, they formed a multidisciplinary team of UWindsor students that shared the same passion they have, a passion to make the world a greater place. Members of the team included Mohammad Madani, a PhD student in Environmental Engineering, Monika Saha a MASc Civil Engineering student, Saranya Jeyalakshmi a PhD student Civil Engineering and of course, Dylan and Vinay.

“Our team began to come together over a discussion regarding issues with monitoring water quality in Lake Erie” said Dylan” Most of the traditional monitoring methods use satellites which provide broad coverage but the image resolution is often really bad (most satellites operate in orbits over 100 km in altitude so its not as simple as just adding better image capture hardware to the satellites. We began discussing the use of long-range drones to image the region as a replacement for satellite imaging. With a desire to grow this beyond a simple demonstration project to a commercially viable solution we reached out to gain expertise in other areas involved – legal, business, agriculture, etc. to help further develop our solution.”

Together, the five students joined the Erie Hack competition, an annual innovation challenge that asks participants to find technological solutions to Lake Erie’s most pressing problems. The Erie Hack competition has generated more than 40 innovative solutions to water challenges and has engaged more than 100 partner organizations. On June 20th, the UWindsor team made their way to Cleveland, Ohio to present their research and their ideas.

“Erie Hack was an incredible opportunity to refine our technical and presentation skills as well as a great opportunity to network with professionals in the field. Being able to network with top researchers and organizations involved in the water tech space was a great opportunity to get critique as we develop our project as well as advice on the directions we should pursue in the future” said Dylan.

The team proudly brought home The People’s Choice Award. Moving forward, they plan to further refine their technology and reach out to potential funders to help grow their work.
We are also working on further developing our business plan and finding a way to bring this vision to the market to help protect our natural water resources,” said Dylan.