St Mary's College year 7 students (L) Ava Smith and Skyla Birch with their Lost Dawgz app.
St Mary's College year 7 students (L) Ava Smith and Skyla Birch with their Lost Dawgz app. Alistair Brightman

St Mary's College students win Telstra tech prize

THE simple task of walking the family's dogs inspired a genius concept which earned two Maryborough students a trip to Telstra's tech headquarters.

St Mary's Catholic College students Skyla Birch and Ava Smith developed a prototype that would track a pet's location if it escaped the yard.

The idea was sparked after the girls were chased by a dog that had jumped a fence.

The Year 7 students took out first place with their concept, Lost Dawgz, in the Mayor's Telstra Innovation Awards held on Thursday night.

The program was created to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the region's youth.

Ava said they had to submit two videos of their idea and what challenges they had overcome before making it through to the final pitch.

After the three-minute pitch the girls faced a panel of judges who fired questions at them.

They were "completely shocked" after winning the top prize because they were pegged against Year 11 and 12 students from across the Fraser Coast.

Skyla said Lost Dawgz was different to others on the market because it connected to an application on your phone which had live tracking, voice command and a camera.

"When your dog goes out of a set boundary it will alert the owner," Skyla said.

"You can also take wide shots on the bevelled camera, so you can see exactly where your dog is.

"And then voice command so if they're obedient you can call them home or tell them to sit."

Telstra's community engagement manager Scott Mullaly was a judge at the awards night held at Hervey Bay Library.

Mr Mullaly was impressed by the girls' unique and cost-effective product.

"What really stood out about the team was the way they refined and developed their idea through the three phases of the competition," Mr Mullaly said.

"Their original idea was shelved as they realised, after research, there was no demand for it.

"They took this knowledge and developed an original, smart and cost-effective product that has real commercial viability."

Ava and Skyla won an all-expenses paid trip to Sydney to visit the Telstra Customer Service Innovation Centre.

Mr Mullaly said the girls would get an inside look at the type of work their innovation team did within Telstra.

"They will also have a chance to talk to some senior Telstra executives and get some advice around their wining idea," he said.