TechLauncher: Shaping Future-Ready Professionals

Students Computing

Trust Indicator TechLauncher team – From left to right, Zhaoyun Zhang, Lingxiu Cai, Tony Chen, Dr. Sabrina Caldwell, Vidhu Chaudhary, Yifang Meng and Song Han, Photo edited by Lingxiu
Trust Indicator TechLauncher team – From left to right, Zhaoyun Zhang, Lingxiu Cai, Tony Chen, Dr. Sabrina Caldwell, Vidhu Chaudhary, Yifang Meng and Song Han, Photo edited by Lingxiu

With around 300 students in Semester 1 2024, TechLauncher helps students become job-ready by providing opportunities to enhance both technical and professional skills that are not necessarily taught in a traditional classroom setting.

The benefits of TechLauncher are not limited to students. Industry partners also significantly gain from this collaborative experience with the students. Associate Professor Charles Gretton notes, “They are able to build relationships and engage with the upcoming generation of professionals who have been educated to perform 21st-century jobs.”

Alongside technical competence, students develop skills such as communication and stakeholder management, critical thinking, design, teamwork, time management and a diverse range of other skills and competencies, commonly sought out by employers. Associate Professor Penny Kyburz explains, “Sometimes industry partners go on to offer ongoing employment to the students that they’ve engaged with. This is a really great outcome for both the students and for the host organisations.”

“Many students secure their first jobs thanks to the practical experience gained through TechLauncher.”

– Shaazaan Majeed

Ben McLean who started with the FireApp project as part of TechLauncher last year exemplifies the program’s impact.

Now back as an industry partner managing the current team after the former host handed over the project, he states, “Giving students the opportunity to participate as a structured team in a professional environment is one of the major benefits of TechLauncher. Students improve their practical skills while gaining experience in agile methodology, time management, and teamwork. I feel that the team has developed their skills and confidence to the point that they are prepared for the workforce.”

AI or real – what’s really in an image?

In an era of deepfakes, where technological innovation allows for the creation of new and creative images with just a click of a button, the Trust Indicator team is working hard to help identify what is real and what is fake.

Dr Sabrina Caldwell, a computer scientist and researcher at ANU whose work centres around image credibility, has a passion for combatting disinformation and misinformation in digital media. She is a member of the JPEG Committee and co-chair of JPEG Trust – responsible for developing an international standard for trustworthy online media assets. Dr Caldwell wanted to translate some of the ideas inherent in the JPEG trust framework – which is when she turned to TechLauncher.

The students on the TechLauncher team worked on translating some of these ideas into a pilot photo repository for the Australian market. They used metadata and content detection algorithms to provide a credibility assessment that will aid consumers in identifying the authenticity of the images displayed.

“Working with my team was a delight,” expressed Sabrina who met the group of six students on pitch day.

“What I didn’t know then was what a high-performing team they would become. They organised themselves to maximise each person’s contribution to the pilot project and worked seamlessly together to deliver the outcomes we identified.” She adds, “Despite the high volume of students in the TechLauncher program, each student’s experience is a personal journey in learning to professionally deliver research-based business outcomes. This will accelerate their integration into their future workplaces and enhance their career prospects.”

A powerful ally in the fight against declining literacy rates

Penwell, a literacy analytics platform, demonstrates another successful TechLauncher project. It identifies grammatical mistakes in student writing using linguistic technology and helps educators track patterns over time – addressing inconsistencies in traditional methods of identifying repetitive language mistakes. What started as a Python script, has been transformed into what is now a fully functioning web application.

After three semesters with TechLauncher, the next step for Penwell is the addition of new features, make additional improvements and gather user feedback to further enhance its capabilities.

Penwell’s industry partner, Charbel El Khaissi says, “TechLauncher presents a valuable opportunity for Penwell to engage with a dynamic and innovative community of young professionals. By getting involved, Penwell benefits from collaborating with student developers by advancing its goal of experimenting with and using educational technology to optimise student language learning.”

The Penwell TechLauncher team group photo
Penwell TechLauncher team – Seated Left to Right - Alan Biju, Jianming Ji, Kartik Sharma, Deni Lanc; Standing Left to Right - Kun Gao, Bo Dai, Shaazaan Majeed

Shaazaan Majeed believes the program effectively bridges the gap between academic learning and industry, preparing students for careers in the real world. Commenting on TechLauncher he says, “This hands-on experience not only enhances our technical and soft skills but also significantly boosts our employability.”

*Inserts* particle physics joke to get a massive reaction. Why don't quarks ever feel lonely? Because they're always in pairs or triplets!

Particle Builder, a captivating board game designed to educate students about particle physics, has garnered significant attention since its inception. With over 10,000 views, 2,000 downloads, and recognition on CERN’s Website, it has proven to be a valuable resource for educators.

Particle Builder board game screenshot
Particle builder board game
The team consisting of Amy McWilliams, Zilun Wei, Yeming Chen, Nicole (Theirry) Panggabean, Mohammad Attar, Tom (Jiacheng) She and Andrew Curse, worked on digitising the game. Zilun Wei from the Particle Builder team says, “The amazing thing about our project is that we are turning the cool but distant and seemingly difficult concepts of particle physics into something fun.”

The team adopted an agile framework, with two-week sprints and regular check-ins. Lachlan McGinness, the industry partner for Particle Builder, praised the collaboration, saying, “It has been excellent working with the team and the Techlauncher program is very well run which has facilitated good teamwork and excellent engineering practices. The students have had an excellent opportunity to learn software engineering techniques like Agile before they enter the workforce.”

TechLauncher continues to be a transformative experience in bridging the gap between academia and industry. By offering students the chance to tackle real-world problems and develop innovative solutions, the program enhances both technical and professional skills, nurturing future-ready professionals.

To pitch a project to start in Semester 2 of 2024 or later, please add your projects to the TechLauncher Management System, or contact us directly with questions, projects or concerns.

Visit the TechLauncher website

Learn about previous TechLauncher projects

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