On Saturday May 28th, MindFuel hosted its second edition of the Tech Futures Challenge (TFC) Prototype Showcase and wrapped up the TFC 2022 season. The online event brought together the teams that participated in the TFC 2022 program, and gave them the opportunity to share their projects, receive feedback from mentors and judges, compete for awards and celebrate their accomplishments.

Funded by ATB Financial, the Future Skills Center, and NSERC PromoScience, as well as by the Hunter Family Foundation, Syncrude and an anonymous funder, the event included a keynote presentation led by Sabina Bauer Lewis, MindFuel’s Programs Director, which engaged the students with the topic of Customer Discovery through interactive activities.   

The event was attended by a total of 61 participants including 40 students, 9 team advisors and mentors, as well as 7 dedicated and insightful judges with a broad range of skills, strengths and experiences within the group: Alina Arvisais (Biochemistry, University of Waterloo), Anam Rizvi (Engineering, Suncor), David Rozak (President & Founder, Ars Biotechnica), Domhnall O’Hanlon (Enterprise Account Manager, Thunkable), Ethan Agena (Chemical Engineering, University of Toronto), Nikhil Sonpal (CEO, Mobility Quotient), and Harland Brandon (CEO & Co-founder, Allos Bioscience).

The event showcased eight student teams working on technologies such as synthetic biology and automation, which ranged from middle-school & high-school to post-secondary, and competed in two streams, as follows.

Beginner 

  • EcOxpress – Green Earth – Toronto, ON: phone app to encourage low carbon print transportation
  • Food Flip (Rundle) – Calgary, AB: produce exchange app to reduce food waste 
  • Project CRIT – Canmore, AB: portable and user-friendly test kit for cyanotoxins in water
  • Siksika HS Robotics – Siksika Nation, AB: automated algae bioreactor to offset climate change effects

Advanced 

  • Dia-Beatable – Lethbridge High School iGEM – Lethbridge, AB: diabetes treatment using mRNA tech
  • FabriFuel – Renert High School – Calgary, AB: microbial fuel cell that uses polyester waste as energy source 
  • Cellucoat – UCalgary iGEM – Calgary, AB: green food packaging for improved preservation and reduction of fruit waste
  • Cya-No-More – ULethbridge iGEM – Lethbridge, AB: new synbio method to combat blue-green algae bloom 

We congratulate all the participating teams for their growing competencies in tackling real-world issues with STEM, with special accolades to our 2022 TFC Prototype Awards winners:

Awards – Beginner 

  • Green Earth won Top Project, Top App design, and Best Prototype (shared with Siksika)
  • Siksika HS Robotics won Best Sustainability and Best Prototype (shared with Green Earth)

Awards – Advanced

  • Renert High School won Top Project and Best Sustainability
  • UCalgary iGEM won Best Prototype

To quote a student participant, “What a great day! It was an awesome opportunity to see what some other teams are doing and it encouraged our team to really come together to make sure we had a presentation that we were proud of and that we understood all the nuances of our project.” 

Another student said, “My experience with this has been memorable and amazing. Our team has learned so many new skills in coding, problem solving, app design and app publishing and testing in our community and get amazing feedback from mentors and judges.” 

The students’ positive comments were echoed by the judges’: “Thanks for continuing to encourage growth and innovation in our youth.  This is a much needed service!”

Thank you to all those who contributed to our 2022 TFC program, such as the mentors, in-kind partners and funders, and wish all the teams best of luck with their projects!

The MindFuel Team