Tiliter and UNSW recently joined forces to conduct a user experience and performance study. Engineering students were selected to participate in the project as a part of their industrial training hours, a compulsory section of UNSW Engineering degrees.
The team at Tiliter was wildly impressed with the students' professionalism, creativity and ability to solve real-world problems using the skills they've gained through their degrees. We were fortunate enough to sit down with three of the projects' students to hear about their experience working and studying with Tiliter. Here's what they had to say.
Duc Ong (Luong) — UNSW Computer Engineer and Science
Tiliter was Luong's first experience working alongside a business since starting his degree at UNSW. Initially, Tiliter's project caught Luong's eye because he was interested in bringing Machine Learning applications to life. His work with Tiliter was his first experience in the field.
"Tiliter appealed to me because I was interested in Machine Learning, and I also felt that Tiliter's goal of bringing Machine Learning applications to the everyday consumer."
"I wanted to gain experience working on a real-world engineering problem to see how much I could apply the skills I learnt in University and to gain insight into how a company operates."
It's safe to say that the project exceeded Luong’s expectations.
"It not only gave me a chance to apply the skills I learnt, but it gave me a chance to learn what a company needs to consider its products."
For Luong, studying and working on real-life products solving real-world problems felt different from university as there wasn't a clear criterion to follow – you had to shape the project on your own. Loung also learnt how quickly things can change working on products in a real-world environment.
"The importance of making the most with what you have and being able to pick up new skills, and importance to adapt on the fly when things don't go your way," were his key takeaways from the project.
We asked Luong what the future holds, and we're happy to say he can see himself working in computer science, and the perks of working at a start-up may draw him in! It's the flexible working and tennis table in the office that really caught Luong's attention!
Luong would definitely recommend the research project to others. "It's a good chance to get industrial experience and gain perspective that may not be so obvious from just doing course work."
Sean Thompson — UNSW Mechatronic Engineering and Computer Science
Our research project sparked an interest in Sean because Tiliter's field of work sounded like a great fit for his skill set. It was his first time working in engineering.
"The mechatronic covers the computer vision and the integrated hardware that the Tiliter products use. The human interaction courses that I've done cover the user interface and user-experience design and consideration content."
Sean viewed this experience as a great opportunity to gain experience with a company at a start-up stage. It was also a great chance to apply his user interaction experience to a professional product.
"It was great to get validation confidence from applying this skillset successfully."
Sean set out to understand and experience first-hand the development work of a real-world product. He found this component of the project particularly valuable.
"It's interesting working on a front-facing product and seeing the considerations of development of the product."
From Sean’s perspective, the project opened his eyes to the start-up world. He was fascinated by the scale of Tiliter and how each employee can directly affect building products.
"Tiliter's scale is interesting, where people are still involved with how the product affects the user directly, and that is in all of their design processes. Seeing your work still being attached to how a person interacts with something appeals to me."
The project confirmed to Sean that his software skillset is his strongest asset, and he is interested in following that career path.
Zali Steiner — UNSW Mechanical Engineering and Material Science
Zali joined the project with some insight into start-ups after completing the Peter Farrell Cup (PFC) at UNSW. PFC is an ideas program that aims to nurture and assist the next-gen of young entrepreneurs. According to Zali, it was the best thing she did at uni.
"I did the Peter Farrell Cup – a start-up comp with UNSW Founders – my team came up with an alternative to single-use packaging for spreads, like those butter and vegemite packet spread you get a buffet. We got to do lots of 3D printing and modelling. Best thing I've done at uni."
When the email popped up about the project, Zali had already heard of the company...
"Initially, I applied because I knew Tom Hill worked there; he'd spoken to me about Tiliter prior. Then I also made the connection that Tiliter's founders were UNSW Founders. I really liked the start-up vibe from the Peter Farrell Cup, so I thought it would be a really great experience at a real start-up."
Not only did Zali want to gain experience in a start-up, but she was excited to gain experience in designing something with constraints in mind. The work course work she'd completed at university didn't directly connect with what the end-user wants or needs. Studying Tiliters' products allowed her to breach that gap in theory.
"It was great to apply what you've learnt in class from those design-based subjects; applying them and getting real-time feedback from a real-life company was really helpful. What I enjoyed most about the project was the feedback from Tiliter."
Zali's key takeaway from the whole project was how fast a start-up moves, and you need to be agile to succeed. She enjoyed Tiliter's two-week agile model.
"What I took away was that in a business, you can pitch an idea, you can test it, and if it doesn't work, you move on."
Before the project, Zali doubted her technical skills in engineering and saw herself moving into a more managerial role. After gaining some hands-on experience, it became clear to Zali she has what it takes to go down a technical engineering path.
Zali is the Comms Coordinator for The Girls in Engineering Club. This is a community for high school girls interested in STEM or wanting to explore engineering after school. They aim to give high school girls a sneak peek into what stem looks like after school. Zali is on a mission to spread the word to girls in school about the opportunities of engineering. At Tiliter, we are on that mission too!
"This was a great taster before you're thrown out there; it was nice to have UNSW there to assist – I really loved it."
If you're interested in extending your studies and participating in research on AI products solving real-world problems, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at here.