Sandbox Program

Students sitting around a table

The UNSW Sandbox Program is a platform that empowers tripartite partnerships among industry, academics, and students to co-create solutions for contemporary business and societal problems.

  • Over 4000 students have completed one or more Sandbox courses

  • 22 industry partners, and more than 100 industry representatives

  • Over 40 real-world projects completed; Over 500 unique solutions created

Currently accepting projects for 2023 in the areas of:

  • Information Systems innovation (mobile/web application development)
  • Cyber Security, including Cloud Architecture
  • Data Analytics, including Social Media Analytics
  • Business Analysis and UX Design
  • Financial Analysis and Forecasting

For our latest updates and project highlights, connect with us on LinkedIn

Why partner with the UNSW Sandbox Program?

The Sandbox Program has created a transformative learning experience for students and brought fresh ideas to our industry partners. Students often describe their Sandbox experience as eye-opening, meaningful, and promoting their interest in different careers. Through the trilateral relationship established among students, academics, and industry, past Sandbox collaborations have developed into direct employment outcomes and research partnerships:

Industry

  • Contribute to the development of future-ready students through direct input into curriculum design and active involvement in challenge-driven education
  • Create greater visibility, gain direct access to talented students and subject matter experts while gaining fresh perspectives and creative solutions to current problems
  • Opportunity to work with students of high calibre and recruit students who demonstrate strong capabilities 
  • Gain opportunities to examine exploratory projects and develop meaningful relationships and connections with leading academics for further research

Students

  • Expand experience by working on real industry challenges with support from academics and professionals from the industry
  • Cultivate transferable skills required for success in a dynamic and evolving work environment by solving complex challenges in a collaborative setting
  • Acquire professional and personal skills needed to address challenges that may be encountered
  • Participate in a purposeful learning experience to co-create knowledge and co-develop skills in collaboration with industry
  • Potential internship or direct employment opportunities

Academics

  • Cultivate graduates who are more work-ready 
  • Opportunity to apply knowledge in their research area to real-world challenges
  • Develop meaningful relationships with industry for continuous innovation in education and research 
  • Maintain continuous engagement with industry to develop trust for long-term partnership

Our Sandbox partners

Partnering with Us – 3 Simple Steps:

  1. Establish a meaningful challenge

    The starting point of a Sandbox is the identification of a meaningful problem. Industry partners are invited to propose enticing and important challenges – we are looking for challenges that would benefit from a fresh perspective and facilitate the acquisition of contemporary knowledge. The expected solutions of a challenge can take various forms, from proofs-of-concepts and information slide decks, to pitch videos and professional whitepapers.

    Academics with the relevant expertise will work with industry partners to scope the project, formulate requirements, and define appropriate expectations. The project will then be embedded in the appropriate course(s) as authentic assessments.

  2. Engage in co-creative problem solving

    Our Sandbox pedagogy offers flexible engagement options – our academics will support industry partners to identify the most appropriate engagement model based on criteria such as project scope and course level.

    In all Sandboxes, industry partners will facilitate a Project Launch session at the beginning of the academic term to introduce the project(s) and relevant background information to the students, supporting them in developing the most feasible solutions.  

  3. Enrich the Sandbox experience

    At the conclusion of a Sandbox, industry partners will review the solutions created by the students, provide feedback to support students’ reflection and consolidation of learnings. This usually includes a formal session where students present their solutions to the industry partners and obtain feedback. 

    The trilateral relationship developed from the Sandbox engagement will continue to grow beyond this point. Subsequent engagement can take various forms, including a longer-term mentoring program, work-shadowing and internship opportunities, co-hosting events, new research partnerships and more. Many of our students who have completed a Sandbox course commence their careers in graduate and vacationer positions at the partner organisation.

Sandbox Projects Highlights

Watch our project showcase here

  • Industry Partner: Australian Red Cross

    Academic Sandbox Champion: Dr. Yenni Tim

    School: Information Systems & Technology Management

    Course, Term, Year, Total Enrolment Number: INFS3605 – IS Innovation & Transformation, T1, 2021, 63 students

    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Highlighted Project Team: Vietlan Dinh, Madelyn Arkley, Kunal Arora, Matthew Beer, Alison Chin and Duc Nguyen

    Impact: UN SDG 13 Climate Change

    The lack of effective solutions to monitor the implications of climate change on indigenous communities had an impact on the true understanding of the harm caused to traditional health, heritage, and lifestyle values. 

    Working with the Australian Red Cross, students developed Custodian, a mobile application that engages Indigenous communities as citizen scientists to provide relevant data documenting the impact of climate change. Users can post about special events or eco-friendly behaviour via text, images, or videos. Accompanying each post, the user also provides their thoughts about indigenous heritage, what was done to preserve it and the exposure that people have to indigenous culture through a rating system. The data collected is then passed on to data scientists and other parties who may find it of value for analysis. 

    To encourage long term usage and interactivity with the app, there are other features such as a point system, a leaderboard, and interesting stories. When the user accumulates sufficient points, the user can donate or redeem for food via the point system.

    Video of project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RDyEVVYiys&list=PLQf1Ysj37R5MmFrKJDQnncy_-HzMxfTE8&index=5

  • Industry Partner(s): The Conexus Institute and Super Consumers Australia

    Academic Sandbox Champion: Dr. Kevin Liu

    School: Risk & Actuarial Studies

    Course, Term, Year, Total Enrolment Number: ACTL3192 - Retirement Saving and Spending Over the Lifecycle, T3, 2021, 79 Students

    Highlighted Project Team: Alice Zhang, Christopher Kumar, Evan Guo, Mu Li and Yiran Yuan

    Impact: UN SDG 17 Partnerships for the goals

    Media Engagement: https://www.investmentmagazine.com.au/2021/12/unsw-sandbox-program-explores-retirement-support/

    Many retirees are limiting their retirement living standards and experience by not drawing down as much as they can afford from their various sources of savings. This is due to the complexity of the retirement income system, reluctance to consume funds that are framed as ‘nest eggs’, concerns about possible future health and aged care costs, little guidance, and concerns about outliving savings.

    Students worked with the Conexus Institute and Super Consumers Australia to develop a portal to assist retirees in understanding their retirement finances and increasing their confidence to consume appropriately. Information is provided through the portal to improve awareness, increase financial literacy and address common concerns of retirees. In addition, household budgeting and other necessary information are used to engage retirees to develop a sustainable retirement plan.

  • Project Name: Enviro: Empowering Environmental Transparency, Education and Accountability for Restaurants

    Industry Partner: Microsoft

    Academic Sandbox Champion: Dr. Sandeep Mysore Seshadrinath

    School: Information Systems & Technology Management

    Course, Term, Year, Total Enrolment Number: INFS2603 – Business Analysis and Agile Product Management, T3, 2021, 123 students

    Highlighted Project Team: Himanshu Singh, Ethan Lau, Joseph Li, Shriya Sharma and Eric Hor

    Impact: UN SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production

    Plastic pollution is a problem that plagues the world. In Australia, a major contributor of plastic waste is the food service industry.

    Working with Microsoft, students developed Enviro, a web application that uses business intelligence in restaurants to reduce plastic consumption through an auditing system based on customer usage data. Enviro’s plastic auditing system records the amount of plastic used in the food preparation, packaging, and delivery process on a per dish basis. Based on the sales generated and plastic usage, Enviro will recommend optimal purchase quantities to save costs and avoid excess plastic usage. In addition, the app also analyses trends in consumer purchases and the consequences on the environment. 

    To help reduce plastic pollution, Enviro automates the creation of eco-receipts and posters that provide information such as the correct way to dispose of plastic waste, environmental index scores and the environmental initiatives supported by the restaurant. Enviro also connects restaurants to eco-friendly startups and sustainable suppliers to assist the restaurant’s transition from using plastic to more sustainable materials.

    Video of project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VV3j-1OcEEc

  • Project Name: Hacktiva: Innovation to Uplift Organisational Phishing Resilience

    Industry Partner: KPMG Australia

    Academic Sandbox Champion: Dr. Yenni Tim

    School: Information Systems & Technology Management

    Course, Term, Year, Total Enrolment Number: INFS3617 – Networking and Cyber Security, T1, 2021, 312 students

    Highlighted Project Team: Stephanie Cheung, Jessica Lawson, Grace Peng, Evelyn Balleine and Andrew Tran

    Impact: UN SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

    Phishing is one of the most common types of cyberattack and there has been a sharp increase in successful phishing attempts. The increase is attributed to a human problem rather than a technology problem.

    Students worked with KPMG Australia and developed Hacktiva to help organisations improve their phishing resilience via a two-pronged solution. The first solution was phishing detection technology built within Outlook to analyse suspicious emails. Analysis is done on the header, email content, URL and page source. Once the analysis is completed, a report is sent back to the user to indicate the overall health of the email received.

    The second solution was to educate, train and build awareness within the organisation for the new solution. Educational awareness is increased through online resources such as demonstration videos, identification of champions within the organisation, training sessions and internal campaigns. The phishing detection technology and educational tools aim to assist individuals in recognising phishing in real time, thereby mitigating the risk of compromise and strengthening the organisation’s security strategy.

    Video of project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuPnCNFtqdY&list=PLQf1Ysj37R5MmFrKJDQnncy_-HzMxfTE8&index=2

  • Project Name: AmongEarth: Reducing Energy Consumption in the Household by Young Adults

    Industry Partner: Microsoft

    Academic Sandbox Champion: Dr. Sandeep Mysore Seshadrinath

    School: Information Systems & Technology Management

    Course, Term, Year, Total Enrolment Number: INFS2603 – Business Analysis and Agile Product Management, T3, 2021, 123 students

    Highlighted Project Team: Vanessa Tanudji, Tobey Lim, Tegan Yun and Chloe Chen

    Impact: UN SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production

    Energy consumption contributes to more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. One of the contributing factors are young adults who are unaware of the impact that their lifestyle choices have on both the environment and electricity bills.

    Students worked with Microsoft to develop AmongEarth – an integrated application to motivate young adults to reduce their energy consumption by assisting them in managing their electricity usage and costs. The app has an easy set up process for new users which is done by entering the electricity company’s customer reference number and answering some basic questions. Besides being able to set and edit customised goals, users are also able to track their own progress towards meeting their goals, view detailed statistics on their household’s electricity usage and pay their bills. Providing quick facts in small bite-sized chunks and curated articles and videos helps to increase awareness and improve education of young adults on energy consumption.

    Video of project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQbUSTLmAKA

Our Student Experience

Zoe Kanginan Bachelor of Commerce Final Year Student

"Completing a Sandbox Project was enriching as it was very different to other courses. It encouraged me to be analytical and become aware of how companies operate and the complexity of cybersecurity in the digital space.

As I near the end of my degree, this project was memorable as it gave me a networking opportunity whilst also educating me about my own digital footprint.

After completing the course, my family members, friends, including myself have been more conscious about our online activity e.g., managing cookies. When I asked them about what they thought about the course, they mentioned that more courses should be designed like this where students are able to interact with companies whilst undertaking real-life experience as it is more enjoyable and sparks our interest/engagement!”

Zoe Kanigan Supplied / UNSW

Anthony Cho Bachelor of Civil Engineering & Commerce (Information Systems) Recent Graduate

“Working with an actual organisation raises the stakes of the project and incentivised every member to put in extra effort to attain an outstanding result, knowing that our work would be reviewed by professionals in the industry. It also provided useful insights into the state of cybersecurity at large organisations and how we can devise strategies to elevate an organisation's cybersecurity landscape. Overall, it was an amazing learning experience.”

Anthony Cho Supplied / UNSW

Find out more about the program

Contact us

Dr. Yenni Tim
Founding Director, UNSW Sandbox Program
yenni.tim@unsw.edu.au