“I thought it would be a fun project where I could gain some new skills and learn about the energy market. However, this whole experience has been beyond anything I could have ever imagined.”
Energy Hack is the University of Melbourne’s annual event that challenges teams to come up with practical and innovative solutions to problems in the energy sector. Master of Environment alum and Aurecon Sustainability Engineer Jess Lam was on the winning team for 2019. Read on for more about her experience.
I completed a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Afterwards I worked for two years before deciding to do my Masters of Environment in Energy Efficiency. My first job involved managing energy efficiency CAPEX projects in live data centres. It had nothing to do with my degree and it was a steep learning curve, but it really sparked my interest to learn more about energy, sustainability, and buildings.
After graduating from a Master of Environment, I was lucky enough to be interning at an engineering consultancy during my last semester and was asked to stay on board after graduating. I’ve been there since! I’m working as a Sustainability Engineer – guiding clients and project to make more sustainable decisions.
I registered for the Energy Hack 2019 because I thought it would be a fun project where I could gain some new skills and learn about the energy market. However, this whole experience has been beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
It was like a crash course on energy, communications and business all rolled into 6 weeks.
It's been an absolute honour working with all the mentors throughout the process. I could not have asked for a better team of smart, talented people. I’ve learnt so much from everyone.
Our winning project SPARK is a service-based home energy platform. With energy prices increasing, people are looking for ways to save money on their electricity bills.
Yes, you can ensure that you switch off your lights when you leave the room, and never leave the TV running in the background, or suffer through 40-degree days because running the air con is expensive. But once you have made a couple of minor changes like this, you start running out of ideas!
The SPARK app will help you identify additional ways to use less, without making any dramatic lifestyle changes. It can be automated – you set and forget!
The most challenging thing about participating in the Hack was finding time to work on it. But when it’s something you find interesting, it doesn’t feel like work. It also helped that my team was doing it for the same reasons I was.
On the other hand, the best thing about the Hack was the process - from brainstorming ideas, testing and challenging the concepts, to developing and delivering our pitch. Then, winning. It’s thrilling to know that other people (besides our team) believe in the idea and how it will make a positive impact.
Moving forward, we are using the prize money to develop a prototype of SPARK and are aiming to have a minimum viable product ready for testing by early next year. Stay tuned!
As for my personal plans, I haven’t really thought about it too much. I’m still mulling over everything I’ve learnt about the energy market and how this translates to opportunities where the built environment can support the grid. I am excited to see where it takes me!