Programming Course Students Participate in Hack the Waste 2020 Creating Thoughtful Leaders Through Global Collaboration

Belgium Campus iTversity’s programming course students were part of the winning teams of this year’s Hack the Waste hackathon. The international hackathon brought 61students from across the globe together to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals through virtual collaboration. The challenge: develop innovative solutions to the global waste problem that meet requirements outlined by two socially responsible and environmentally friendly companies; Komunala Brežice d.o.o., a public utility company in the municipality of Brežice, Slovenia and Eco Baltia group, the largest environment management group in the Baltics.

All of this year’s participating institutions are members of Businet, a network of international higher education institutions that promote good practices and international co-operation through the collaboration of like-minded institutions. Experts from each institution provided participating students with mentorship in courses including a programming course, business course, finance course, and marketing course. This spirit of knowledge sharing and the embracement of internationalisation provided the students with the necessary foundation on which to build their solutions.

Working in interdisciplinary teams and fuelled by an inspirational speech by the creator of Hack The Planet, Tim Van Deursen, students from Belgium Campus iTversity (South Africa), Fontys University of Applied Sciences (the Netherlands), Avans University of Applied Sciences (the Netherlands), DOBA Business School (Slovenia), University Colleges Leuven-Limburg (Belgium) and Banku Augstskola (Latvia) had just 24 hours to conceptualise, design, and pitch solutions to an international panel of judges. Our students didn’t waste any time, quickly finding ways to integrate the material from their programming course to develop solutions to the task at hand. The panel, which included representatives from Businet, Bothlale Village, Hack the Planet, Eco Baltia group, Komunala Brežice d.o.o. and University Colleges Leuven-Limburg, judged the solutions based on criteria including: originality, feasibility, risk analysis, marketing and presentation, and investment possibilities.

Two winning teams were selected. Team Waste Pro – Coert Grobbelaar and Chantel Mokoena (Belgium Campus iTversity), Annija Balcere (Banku Augstskola), Janja Šincek Jagačić (DOBA Business School), and Esra Sariaydin and Hamelryck Axel (UC Leuven-Limburg) – for their concept to turn unsorted and unrecyclable waste materials into bricks for construction and team Waste Busters – Thabang Mahlangu (Belgium Campus iTversity), Jelle Zandbergen (Avans University of Applied Sciences), Alojz Gucek and Helena Marinović (DOBA Business School), Alise Dreimane and Reinis Stutans (Banku Augstskola) and Bram van Gils (Fontys University of Applied Sciences) – for their game app that aims to educate children about recycling. We are proud of our programming course students’ contribution to these winning ideas. The solutions impressed the companies who expressed their desire to work with the students to further develop their design concepts into functional prototypes. All participants also received certificates from Credentify, the first European issuer of blockchain-secured stackable ECTS credentials.

The importance of hackathons like this is undeniable. Far-reaching solutions that address sustainable development challenges cannot be developed through isolationism. They require a multilateral, multidisciplinary approach which Hack the Waste allows. Not only did our students have an opportunity to showcase the technical skills they learnt during their programming course, but they were also challenged to develop the soft skills and multicultural mindset to become the thoughtful leaders the world so desperately needs. We are proud to be part of a global network co-creating for the benefit of our planet and all who call it home.

To learn more about the hackathon and each team’s solution, visit the following website: