University of Waterloo students make a big splash in the 2017 AquaHacking semi-finals

Friday, June 30, 2017

The AquaHacking 2017 semi-final competition unfolded last week at CIGI. By the end of the evening, five teams were chosen to move on to the final competition at Waterloo on September 13. It was a difficult decision for the five judges, as all 17 teams that competed offered innovative ideas that tackled the challenges and opportunities facing Lake Erie.  

The five winning teams will move on to compete for a shared total of $75,000 in funding and access to local accelerators. Over the next two months, teams will further develop their ideas with the help from the Region of Waterloo which has kindly donated $2000 to each team to help fund their efforts.

Out of the 29 individuals moving on to the finals, 24 are current or former University of Waterloo students and represent all six academic faculties.

Congratulations to:

ImPONDerable – This team is developing Cyano Sleuth, a science monitoring kit and app for citizens who frequent Lake Erie. Cyano Sleuth will help scientists to access spatially-varied data on algae presence, harmful toxins and nutrients while delivering useful and relevant information to day-to-day users.

imponderable team

SIM Labs – Systems Design Engineer Jason Dilgent and his team are developing a fast and robust way to not only automatically identify and enumerate different species of cyanobacteria, but also predict behavioural trends of harmful algae blooms.

Jason Dilgent, SIM Labs team

PolyGone – A few of our Collaborative Water Program graduates, joined by undergraduates from Waterloo, are developing a product to capture microfibers that shed off clothing during the washing process. The product is a sheet made of a fine filter with a polymer coating to attract microfibers as they float through the laundry water. Of the micro-plastic pollution in the Great Lakes, fibres make up 71%.

PolyGone Team

Fertilizer Burn – The team is developing a mobile soil-testing lab and mobile application that will provide real-time, in-situ soil data to the user. The mobile lab will be fitted onto existing farming equipment such as a tractor or trailer, and operated without interference to other tasks a farmer may be completing concurrently. The data will help the farmer adjust the products applied to fields helping to reduce the volume of fertilizer in oversaturated areas entering into water systems.

Fertilzer Burn team

EMAGIN – This group, who got their start in the University of Waterloo’s Velocity garage, has developed a novel artificial intelligence driven real-time, event-management platform that aims to enhance the operational performance of Municipal sewage collection infrastructure to minimize sewer overflow events.


The AquaHacking finals are happening on the third day of Elsevier's fourth international water research conference, hosted by the Water Institute, in Federation Hall on campus.