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Industry and community projects

Projects and partners

Semester long projects

Projects take place over 13 weeks during semester and are based at the University of Sydney. To enrol for a Semester 2 Industry Project please visit the how to apply page.

For enquiries about Semester long project, email

United Nations and Elizabeth Broderick & Co. - Gender as a notion in the changing world of work

History indicates that no industrial or technological change has been gender-neutral. On the one hand, technological innovation, such as mobile phones, have increased women’s access to networks and markets, but at the same time created new tools and spaces for abuse and harassment, both in private life and in the context of work. Artificial intelligence is going to increasingly play a role in how we work and live, yet the design and programming remains male dominated, so we risk ending up with a male dominated view of work and life. As technological change impacts on what work looks like and the kinds of jobs that are available, we need to make sure that the structural and systemic barriers that exist today are not replicated in the world of work for the future. In this project you will look at how technological change is impacting on women’s experiences of work, how are women experiencing this differently depending on where they live and whether specific groups of women are more vulnerable than others.

Accenture - Achieving better health outcomes

1 in 2 Australians have a chronic disease. Chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease cancer and diabetes are the leading cause of illness, disability and death in Australian. Almost one third could be prevented by removing exposure risk factors such as smoking, high body mass, alcohol use, physical inactivity and high blood pressure. Despite the need, only 1.5% of Australia total health expenditure is spent on prevention. With current and emerging health technologies we are looking to understand if there are sufficient ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle and ultimately have the potential to educate, prevent and improve healthcare. In this project, you will explore how we as a country can make the big shift in health spending to focus on prevention and how we can activate and enable consumers to change their behaviours so they live longer, healthier lives.

MS Research (at Westmead) - Personalisation to healthy living for those living with MS

People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) can control and potentially minimise the impact of MS on their lives, providing them with a sense of empowerment and hope. Research shows that there are a number of risk factors that influence the onset of MS, including smoking, UV light exposure, and weight, and that these can be modified through lifestyle changes. However, the role that modifiable lifestyle factors may play in reducing disease activity and disability progression in MS is not well understood. There is emerging evidence that exercise and physical activity are beneficial in MS, although there is no clarity on the exact type, duration and intensity of activity that is needed to make a difference in disease outcomes. Similarly, there is no evidence that any dietary regime can influence MS outcomes, despite a high level of interest amongst people with MS. This project aims to develop an evidence-based, customised, self-management program that integrates key healthy behaviours relevant to the progression of MS that is adaptable to account for individual abilities and symptoms. A key outcome of the program is to support uptake of and adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviours in people with MS.

Westmead Redevelopment and Western Sydney Local Health District (at Westmead) - Disrupting chronic illness through immersive technologies

Western Sydney has one of the sickest populations in Australia. There is a total of 57.3 per cent of people who have one of four health risk factors - physical activity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and obesity. How can we formulate a disruptive idea and solution design that tackles chronic health illness in Western Sydney to inspire and promote improvement in health and social outcomes? Can disruptive emerging health technologies such as mobile apps, wearables, virtual reality, IoT and/or artificial intelligence and machine learning help to encourage a physically active healthy lifestyle and the monitoring and management of chronic illness?

AGL - Creating a renewable energy future

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges our planet faces. What needs to change to get to zero greenhouse gas emissions? Currently two-thirds of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from our electricity and transport sectors. So how do we ensure our energy systems meet the needs of society whilst not being reliant on fossil fuels? What energy projects may be possible in the future that were once thought science-fiction? Will current electricity and transport infrastructure meet future our needs? What planning needs to happen to ensure industries and communities reliant on existing energy supply chains are not left behind? Working in groups with students from different faculties and backgrounds, you’ll design your own project to help make a renewable energy future a reality.

Bain & Company - Transforming businesses for sustainability

Sustainability is becoming more important within businesses, and there is increasing pressure from customers for businesses to invest meaningfully in sustainability. Many companies are starting to deliver on sustainability commitments, but as sustainability becomes increasingly important, companies will need to increase the pace of progress to deliver the outcomes that their customers are demanding. In this project you may look across industries ranging from consumer products, retail, financial services, automotive or technology. Your group can look at sustainability through environmental, economic and social aspects. Ultimately, this project aims to understand what businesses are currently doing to pursue sustainability goals and what the highest priority actions are that companies should consider when transforming business for sustainability.

NSW Office of Environment & Heritage – Saving koalas

Koalas are perhaps the most recognizable and loved of Australia’s wildlife. They are also emblematic of the impact that humans have had on Australia’s environment in the last two centuries. Koalas sit alongside another 450 species currently vulnerable or threatened with extinction. Habitat loss from agriculture and mining, urbanization, disease, invasive species, drought and climate change are all impacting the survival of the koala. To protect koalas, natural resource managers are increasingly drawing on broad range of scientific, social, cultural, legal and economic expertise. In this unit you will work with students from different disciplines on projects that create recommendations to save NSW’s Koala population. You will see researchers working to understand the impacts of disease and drought on koalas (and meet some koalas) and hear from government managers and other stakeholders who hold the fate of koalas in their hands. The skills you learn will be valuable not just for work in conservation but any area of complex public policy involving diverse communities and stakeholders.

This project includes a compulsory week long field trip to Gunnedah, the koala capital of the world, 29 July to 2 August 2019.

PTW Architects - Is the world big enough for humans?

We live in a time when institutions that seem to have been around forever are going to the wall, when a deteriorating climate is an index for uncertain futures, when old enmities are merging with new technologies. In this project you will explore and find creative solutions to questions such as, what are the solutions to an expanding population and resource exhaustion on a finite planet? Can artificial intelligence meet emotional intelligence, to shape new civilisations? Can we create alternate lifeworld's, give them physical and social shape, a governance structure, real estate, pleasure and play? The business, communication and presentation skills you gather during this project will be relevant to any career, field or lifestyle you choose in the future – all disciplinary imaginations are needed for the key task of shaping civilisation.

QBE - The impact of climate change

Climate change is a key topic for many businesses around the world due to the physical impacts of extreme weather events and the impact of changes in climate and sea level on everything from property to liability to crop insurance. QBE have a sophisticated catastrophe modelling capability and use stress and scenario testing to assess the impact of extreme but plausible weather events to help them better prepare for such situations. What they are now seeing is a range of other potential risks and opportunities resulting from climate change due to things like changes in technology, new policies and regulation, new cases of litigation and increasing stakeholder expectations for how corporations manage risk and offer customer solutions. In this project you will look at the potential implications and what are the opportunities that climate change presents.

ANZ Bank - Open Data disruption

What does a new financial services world look like with Open Data? The introduction of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) in Australia will give consumers more control of their data and the ability to share their data on demand with trusted recipients, not only in the banking industry (Open Banking), but other industries including energy and telecommunications. The CDR will enable the linking of live data streams into new real-time digital experiences, with richer insight and consumer tailoring. This will have a significant impact on the major banks and drive increased competition with new fintech participants leveraging Open Data to provide new offerings and gain market share. ANZ are currently looking at how to ensure compliance with the legislation and how to compete and innovate through building new offerings to enhance current services to customers. In this project you will look broadly at ANZ’s opportunities for innovation and collaboration using a customer’s data from multiple organisations, ranging from ecosystem creation (multi-device, multi-platform, multi-play) through to fraud prevention and risk minimisation. You may consider new traditional banking services or the integration of these services into new digital ecosystems.

Herbert Smith Freehills – The impact of disruptive technologies  

The rise of new technologies has brought and will continue to bring exciting change and benefits. In the context of law, current and emerging technology includes automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. It is foreseeable that these technologies will impact the current services offered, future workforce roles and requirements in the legal workforce. Herbert Smith Freehills currently have a number of projects being undertaken globally that touch on aspects of ‘disruptions’, but feel that having a new group ‘step back’ and look at the implications more holistically and with an outsiders perspective will be very beneficial. In this project you will work in interdisciplinary groups to find solutions and provide recommendations for what HSF should strategically be doing to position itself best to compete in the current and future technology driven environment. This project is open to students from all disciplines.

Randstad – Connecting human and machine learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to deliver tremendous benefits as well as new challenges for the recruitment sector. Today, investment in, development and use of AI has skyrocketed and enabled automation of many steps in recruitment activities. At the same time, concerns about AI-powered solutions and their implications for privacy, job security, control and trust have grown. Will we allow our social media profiles, our psychometric tests, and behavioural predictions to reduce us to a series of data points and run them through a potentially biased system? What are the ethical questions on using a machine to match people into a job? Will we accept machines computing the match? What happens to the role of the recruiter? In what part of the process is the human touch still key? Your team will work and present on what the application of AI/ML will look like in the recruitment process.

Swisslog – Using virtual reality to upskill workers

Augmented reality and virtual reality are becoming one the most popular and effective ways to train staff. Being able to fully engage an employee in a virtual world designed to present them with potential scenarios, job challenges, and unfamiliar technology before encountering them in the real world can save businesses a lot of time and money. In this project you will explore creative solutions as to how AR/VR technology can be used to train warehouse staff for one of Swisslog’s major clients – Coca-Cola Amatil. This project will suit students with an interest in state of the art technology, cognitive engineering, computer science, psychological sciences and all STEM oriented disciplines are encouraged to enrol in this project.

Westpac - The impact of artificial intelligence on banking

The booming growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence is both exciting and intimidating. In shifting conventional computing paradigms, can innovations led by AI provide new and lucrative opportunities for businesses across all sectors? A number of clear potential applications for AI already exist for the banking sector: customer service interactions, providing financial advice, mitigating risk and decision making. In this project your group will provide a brief that prepares for or takes advantage of artificial intelligence on banking.

Clayton Utz and Communities Assist - Building sustainable communities in developing countries

Communities Assist is a charitable organisation founded by a group of Australians that are dedicated to transforming lives and communities in need and Clayton Utz is large supporter of this not-for-profit. The aim of Communities Assist is to care for orphaned children and to teach local communities sustainable practices so that they can provide for their own needs now and into the future. Communities Assist wishes to explore additional sustainable practices and technologies that could be suitable for communities in developing world. In this project you will explore topics such as post-harvest technologies, alternative energy generation, sustainable approaches to food production and sanitation of water and come up with creative solutions to help communities in developing countries live sustainable lives that allow them to be self-sufficient.

Public Defenders – Not guilty

Do you have an interest in wrongfully convicted inmates? Miscarriages of justice can and do occur in countries like Australia, it is an unfortunate fact of our legal system. This project reviews cases of possible wrongful convictions with the ultimate aim to seek justice for wrongfully convicted inmates. This project will provide a unique educational experience where you can apply the knowledge you have acquired during your degree to real cases. You will work with students from different degrees and have the opportunity to work closely together and learn from each other’s disciplines. You will ultimately be seeking social justice for those in need and assist in forming closer collaboration between different fields and assist improvements in the legal system. This project would suit students from Psychology and Law, though is open to all students with an interest in wrongfully convicted inmates.


Adobe - The future of education: closing the digital skills gap

As we enter an era of integrated digital and physical technologies across all areas of business, production, mobility, and communications, we have already seen whole industries and economies shift rapidly. Currently, with such a lag between education and disruptive technological change within industry, there is a risk that organisations are not ready to harness the full potential of this change. How can technologies be incorporated into education so that this skills shortfall is mitigated, meaning organisations don’t just look to survive, but capture enormous growth instead? In this project you will investigate the future of education and look to formulate creative and innovative ways that business, schools, universities, and governments can tackle industry skills shortages. You are required to provide tangible suggestions and solutions that address the future of education so that human talent aligns with technological advancement.

PwC - Future of Sydney precincts

To retain Sydney’s global status, we need to invest in innovation – and this can best be harnessed through the development of precincts which are centred on catalytic institutions in education, innovation, health and research. As Australia continues to transition to an ideas economy, the development and commercialisation of ideas and innovation will be paramount to ongoing economic success. The success of precincts can rely on a number of factors including the ability to attract investment (global and local), the successful establishment of a suitable governance structure to manage the precincts, a brand and identity which attracts global talent, and a focus on suitable industries and institutions for the continuous growth and productivity of the precinct. In this project you will focus on what currently exists in a precinct and make a case for why this should continue to be invested, or a case for why you would progress it to another offering, such as an innovation precinct.

EY - Emergence of the smart consumer

Brand articulation is becoming more important for businesses to help drive growth, particularly as brands are increasingly penetrating overseas markets. For Australian businesses in the food and beverage (F&B) sector, there is large potential in Asia-Pacific, an area that has historically demanded ‘clean & green’ Australian products. As the quality of Asia-Pacific food supply chains increase Australian F&B products will lose their competitive advantage importing into the Asia-Pacific. The consumers of tomorrow will also change; Ernst & Young (EY) has identified 150 drivers of change and formulated eight hypotheses that will shape how the future ‘smart consumer’ behaves (‘Future Consumer Now’ report). Brands will need to be aligned with the emergence of the ‘smart consumer’ as well as correspond to changes in the market. In this project, students have an opportunity within interdisciplinary teams to explore opportunities for large businesses to activate demand for their F&B brands in Asia-Pacific markets. Student groups are asked to consider: How can Australian F&B businesses activate brand demand in the Asia-Pacific region, factoring in both future consumer trends and diverse business operating environments?

In this ICPU unit you can choose one of three themes (listed below) to work on. Unlike other ICPU units, in which the design brief is provided by an industry partner, in this unit you will develop your own design brief within your chosen theme. With this unit there is a focus on innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and a start-up mindset. You will work in interdisciplinary teams and learn how to use methods from design, arts, business, engineering and science to develop innovative solutions to contemporary challenges. You'll then create a prototype based on your own brief. Throughout the unit, you will have access to a university-wide network of academics and to a consortium of industry and not-for-profit organisations. This ICPU unit is especially relevant for students who are interested in starting their own business or to gain experience in developing new products. It is based on a postgraduate unit “Inventing the Future ” which has been running since 2016.

The impact of climate change within communities

Our planet faces an increasing amount of environmental disasters triggered by global climate change. Events like the world-wide climate strike in March 2019 provide strong signals that the climate crisis needs to be treated as a crisis, representing the biggest threat in human history. Students in this theme are invited to specifically investigate how changes in the climate will affect rural and urban communities. Projects could develop solutions to make communities more resilient, which may involve focusing on farming practices (e.g. different crops, use of indigenous plants, synthetic biology plants, animal bio factories, agricultural probiotics, changing patterns of land use, carbon farming), renewable energy, urban heat, waste management, water management, risk assessment or insurance. Solutions could take the form of physical prototypes, software applications, services or new processes. This theme will be supervised by Associate Professors Maryanne Large and Martin Tomitsch.

Workplace skills of the future

Science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics skills (also referred to as STEAM) will be critical in the workplaces of the future. Within this theme, students are encouraged to develop solutions that improve the teaching of STEAM across all school levels. In particular, this may involve approaches for making it more accessible, for example, to students in regional areas or from low socio-economic backgrounds. Example technologies that could be a foundation for potential solutions include: robotics, 3D printing, the internet of things and virtual reality. This may involve making very cheap equipment (such the foldscope or little devices), creating community based initiatives (such as citizen science), initiating makerspaces and DIY bio labs (such as Genspace and CRI). Solutions are not limited to be used in schools or universities but could be designed for the wider public. This theme will be supervised by Associate Professor Ian Maxwell.

Using assistive technologies to live independently

Approximately 20% of people in Australia have some form of disability. They are more likely to have less education, poorer health outcomes and lower levels of employment. Their inclusion in society and the workplace is hindered by difficulties in accessing physical environments and transportation, the lack or unavailability of assistive devices and technologies and non-adapted means of communication. Within this theme, students will develop solutions that use technology to help those with disabilities lead more independent lives. Projects may focus on a range of broad disabilities, including both physical (such as blindness, mobility, etc.) and mental impairment (such as learning difficulties, mental health, etc.). Solutions could make use of physical computing technology or involve new software products or both. Examples of technical solutions include the diagnosis and management of Parkinson’s, and improved communication technology for deafblind people. This theme will be supervised by Dr Sharon Herkes.

Semester 2 project timetable

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