WattHack 2021 Winning Team Interview
Updated: Apr 10, 2022
To let you know what to expect at WattHack 2022, we interviewed the winning team from last year!
Hear about the experiences of (left to right) Jonathan, Amy, Tasman, and Andria below:
Q: Can you guys introduce yourself and what do you do when you are not winning Watthack?
Jonathan: Hi I am Jonathan, I am a 3rd-year mechatronics student in undergrad. And when I am not doing Watthack, I spend the rest of the year preparing sick Watthack entries to you know, dominate.
Amy: Is it a professional egg and spoon racer?
Jonathan: I am a professional egg and spoon racer, that's true. Competitive.
Andria: I am Andria, I am a third-year mechanical systems student in my undergrad. And I do a lot of different things, that are not related to uni in my spare time.
Tasman: Hi, I am Tas. Also a third-year mechatronics student. When I am not at uni, I spend a lot of time working on a farm and a lot of time out running.
Amy: Hi, I am Amy. Also a third-year mechatronics student in undergrad. And outside of Watthack, I am currently enjoying spending my time modifying gameboys and retro-tech.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about what you built in last year’s Watthack and how did you guys come up with the idea for it?
Amy: We went in and they had all the electronic components out there on the table and we were like what are the most interesting little bits and pieces that we can grab from this to find inspiration. The first thing I picked up from the pile was this green clicky switch and it was very satisfying, made a very good click. I wish I had it here to do click-click-click for you.
Tasman: Not only did we find one but we found all the green clicky switches.
Amy: So, because of the clickiness of this incredible green switch. Our first ideas were around a game or something that we could make use of these clicky switches. Some sort of a useless machine, just something that would give a satisfying click, and somehow that sort of morphed into wanting to make a game. -> Inverse pendulum and egg and SPOON.
Jonathan: So we settled on an egg and spoon race simulator, which sort of arcade game style, where you had to try and play egg and spoon race with a sort of like a motorised pendulum system.
Q: How long did it take you guys to finalise that idea?
Andria: 10-15 mins. We were brainstorming very quickly because after Amy’s idea we got held up on the idea of a game, making something fun, and then Tas found the Ph.D. student's pendulum video. And we were like oh let's try and implement this. It was also brought upon by the kind of e-waste we had, so things like motors and we found some pulley belts and stuff. So, it was a combination of things like oh we have this idea.
Tasman: and the thing we are completely forgetting about is the control knob. It was the best-looking thing in all of the e-waste and we planned to use that no matter what. And we did use that.
Andria: It was pretty satisfying to turn it.
Mukul (MUEEC): So you guys took an exploratory approach.
Jonathan: we settled on an idea pretty quickly and it was mainly two days of trying different things and seeing how it fits and improving the idea.
Tasman: Unlike this year, we already have an idea xD. Watch out.
Andria: Watch out
Q: How did you guys manage to finish all of that in a limited time?
Andria: We were just very collaborative. We just stayed on top of communication and were very aware of the time limit which made us work very quickly. We were working on it until the last second.
Tasman: That being said, I don't think we finished everything we dreamt of doing. We had more features we were thinking about implementing and we didn't get around to doing that.
Jonathan: It had a lighting system, that was all wired up and we ran out of time to connect it to power. So, it was waiting there waiting to be turned on.
Amy: We did a really good job of communicating. John and Andria were doing base and lighting, and Tas and I were working on more of the motor and controller and whatnot. Being able to be delicate like that helped. And then at the last minute putting everything together. For the first time, we actually tested the system as a whole everything plugged in was on the desk presented to the judges.
Q: Finally do you have any tips or advice for 2022 competitors.
Andria: Like, watch out. Ahah. just have fun with it, we all just wanted to go in there and build stuff. We didn't have too much of a focus on winning and we were really just enjoying being in the space and doing something that was finally hands-on. Don't go in there thinking, it's all about winning the competition, just have fun with it. We just made it like a fun project and I guess that's what put us apart from everyone else.
Jonathan: It's just an excuse to build some random cool shit, that's what it's for. So have fun with it.
Amy: Use the e-waste, a lot of the time had really cool stuff but not much e-waste which ultimately didn't work in their favour. So if you are making cool stuff, make it cool stuff made from junk.
Jonathan: It was a really friendly environment, I had a fun time chatting with industry representatives and there were people from TCS and MUEEC committee helping out when needed.
Are you pumped for WattHack 2022 now, if you weren't already? We are looking forward to seeing you there! Keep an eye out for more details coming soon 👀