Annual Sime Darby Young Innovators Challenge goes virtual again this year

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The programme would cover workshops, mentoring sessions, the national championship itself and also the grand finale. — AFP file photo

KUCHING (Aug 7): Yayasan Sime Darby’s annual flagship programme, the ‘Sime Darby Young Innovators Challenge’ (SDYIC),would be hosted virtually this year via various online platforms such as Canvas, Telegram, Facebook, SDYIC website and Discord.

The programme would cover workshops, mentoring sessions, the national championship itself and also the grand finale.

The online platform would include self-learning materials, virtual classrooms, scheduled real-time forums with past winning teams and trained school-teachers for knowledge-sharing and mentoring.

During the programme, online learning and support would be provided to the participants through webinars and sharing-sessions to help them get started with their technology innovation journey.

Since 2016, Yayasan Sime Darby has committed RM4.28 million for the programme, reaching out to 9,254 secondary school students nationwide, as well as having trained 935 undergraduate students, 1,224 school teachers and 25 innovation officers.

Past winning prototypes namely ‘Robin Food’, ‘Mykroscope’, ‘D-Monitor’ and ‘The Beep’ have been successfully developed and deployed to the local communities to solve their problems.

For this year, SDYIC participants are given the opportunity to kick start their technical skills, learn design thinking, innovative problem-solving and prototyping skills, as well as enhance their leadership qualities, while competing against students from all over Malaysia.

The students are required to produce workable prototypes and actionable innovative solutions in the areas of food and agriculture; automotive and mobility; healthcare; home and shelter; heavy equipment and machinery; as well as retail and customer service.

Chumbaka, the appointed technical partner and training provider for SDYIC, is also the appointed training provider to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at schools nationwide by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

Apart from being a national competition, the event also includes the Train the Trainers (TTT) programme for undergraduate students and secondary school-teachers, as well as a national innovation workshop for the finalists leading up to the competition.

SDYIC 2020 was the first-ever edition since 2016 to have been conducted entirely online, a decision made way before the onset of Covid-19.

This strategy has not only eliminated logistical barriers and financial constraints, but also circumvented the challenges of restricted movement measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While schools nationwide were facing challenges to keep up with their academic classes due the pandemic and closures, without being able to carry out any co-curricular or extra-curricular activities, SDYIC 2020 observed the number of rural schools increased by about 11 per cent from 138 schools in 2019 to 154 schools in 2020; the total number of participating schools increased by 20 per cent from 336 schools in 2019 to 406 schools in 2020 (eight out of the 15 finalist teams coming from rural areas); the number of teachers increased by 63per cent from 358 teachers in 2019 to 581 teachers in 2020, andmaintained girls’ participation in SDYIC at about 40 per cent.

The inaugural SDYIC 2016 winning idea known as the ‘Robin Food’ software application had been the catalyst for the distribution of more than 218,000kg of food surplus to the needy groups via a collaboration with Food Aid Foundation and Tesco Malaysia.

The 2017 winning prototype known as the ‘Mykroscope’ was the first registered open source hardware in Malaysia, with over 2,000 units being produced and distributed to 194 selected schools nationwide.

The SDYIC 2018 winning idea ‘D-Monitor’ by Lodge International School had been handed over and installed by Swinburne University, Sarawak Campus in early September 2020.

The product prototype consists of solar-powered signal emitter to report water levels in drains around the clock through a mobile app, which in turn prevent flood incidents in the campus with a population of 4,000 students and staff.

Another SDYIC 2018 winning idea, ‘The Beep’ by SMK Lutonghad benefitted 1,500 local communities, through reducing traffic congestion at schools via a device that would notify students of their parents’ arrival.

The prototypewas designed in keychain size with radio wave transmitter built-in, which was user-friendly for both parents and students. A hundred units of product prototype had been distributed to parents and students in SK Lutong.

The SDYIC 2019 winning prototypes meant to benefit 5,500 local communities via the enhancement of SMK Kemabong’s school-bus safety system that would ensure students’ safety when crossing roads upon disembarkation from the bus; SMK Merbau’s proposed system to ensure parking spots for disabled drivers; and Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar’s Techno IV sensor meant to help nurses prevent medical complications in wards.
The SDYIC 2020 winning prototypes had been developed and distributed in April 2021 (before the lockdown).

The ‘SOP Measurement Device’ by SMK Indahpura from Johor produced 20 units of prototypes and distributed to 10 schools (two units per school).
The ‘Acrotec’ by SMK Mulong from Kelantan has produced 30 units of height measurement devices and distributed to 15 schools and 15 clinics (one unit each).

The ‘STC Kit’ by a team from SMK TiongHin, Sarawak completed 10 units of safety vest for crossing guard and distributed to two schools (two units per school).

A total of 266 undergraduate students and 311 secondary school teachers who would be mentors for the students, had been trained this year through the TTT programme, which had been conducted from June to July 2021.

The trained mentors would be assigned to guide the targeted secondary schools in August 2021. Trained school teachers would be expected to conduct knowledge-sharing for their respective schools and provide guidance to participants in preparation for the national-level championship commencing in October 2021.

Completion of the TTT workshops by July 2021 would enable the school-students to have at least two to three months to design and develop their prototypes for the national championship.

To date, 2,175 students (776 teams) from 384 schools nationwide have registered for the programme, in which online learning and support would be provided to the participants via webinars and sharing-sessions to help them get started with their technology innovation journey.

The participants would be shortlisted by Chumbaka, out of whom15 finalists would be selected to qualify for SDYIC 2021 national championship in November 2021.

The selection committee, led by Yayasan Sime Darby and Chumbaka, would comprise business leaders and innovation officers from the three Sime Darby companies.

During the national championship, the finalists would be evaluated based on the feasibility and creativity of their prototypes, as well as the potential impact of their community adoption projects.

Virtual pitching sessions would be conducted with judges, made up of Sime Darby leaders and industry experts, to present their prototypes and potential community adoption projects.

Competition prizes in the form of innovation grants from Yayasan Sime Darby worth a total of RM60,000should enable the winning teams to implement and scale up their community adoption projects to benefit their targeted local communities.

To encourage more girls’ participation in STEM education, Yayasan Sime Darbyis planning to invite top girl science students to participate in live interviews or engagements on Yayasan Sime DarbyandMoE’ssocial media platforms, with SDYIC alumni.

This year, knowledge-sharing and networking activities for the SDYIC alumni are to be prioritised, to create platforms for winning teams and past participants to share their journey of enhancing their technical and soft skills, to inspire their peers to use new inventions to solve community issues; and; trained secondary school teachers to share innovative teaching methods and impart the 21st-century skills they gained to their peers beyond the programme, towards the inculcation of an innovative mind set among secondary school students.

Yayasan Sime Darby is also working together with Chumbaka to engage past participants and trained teachers to participate in its planned alumni activities.

They are an initiative that showcases and celebrates their achievements, contributions, and impact to the local communities through various capacities locally and overseas after attending SDYIC; a series of knowledge sharing sessions hosted by 30 speakers comprising students, teachers and external industry experts to be conducted via social media and education sites and; a video campaign featuring inspiring stories of the challenges and achievements of selected SDYIC ambassadors from diverse backgrounds.
This visual impact tool would help Yayasan Sime Darbyreach out to and inspire more students, especially girls, to participate in STEM.

The other planned alumni activity is an Instagram takeover by top female science students who would participate in interviews with alumni via Instagram Live and MoE’s online platform to encourage interest in STEM amongst girls.

SDYIC 2021 recruitment campaign is running from nowuntil this Aug 28.
Commencement of knowledge-sharing and guidance sessions by SDYIC mentors would be on until this September.

Submissions of prototypes and videos have been set in September, while selection of the 15 finalistswould be conducted in October.

SDYIC 2021 National Camp Engagement with the 15 finalists during the virtual National Camp (customised training for the 15 finalists to facilitate presentation of final prototypes during the finale) is setfor this November, while the SDYIC 2021 Grand Finale would be staged at the end of November.

The Community Adoption is set fromDecember 2021 to October 2022, while the SDYIC Alumni Monthly knowledge-sharing sessions would be on until December 2021.

The Instagram Takeover and live interviews by 10 top female science  students with alumni is from August to December 2021, while announcement and invitation for submission of alumni’s achievements, contributions and impact to the local communities after attending SDYIC would be on from January to February 2022; selection of top two winners from each of the student’s and teacher’s category respectively would be at endof March 2022; production of two SDYIC alumni journey videos, from August 2021 to March 2022; celebration of outstanding alumni achievements via a special prizegiving ceremony would be held on April21, 2022.

Yayasan Sime Darby has committed RM600,000 for a period of one year and six months (May 2021-October 2022) to fund and host SDYIC 2021.
The amount covers project management costs and innovation grants for the winning teams; TTT workshops; and public awareness and SDYIC alumni activities.

The programme aligns with the ‘Education Pillar Objective’of reducing gaps in access to quality education. It promotes capacity-building and development of soft skills including pitching skills, social competence, communication and creativity for both undergraduate and secondary school students in Malaysia.

It is in line with the United Nations (UN) ‘Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promote Lifelong Learning Opportunities for All by 2030’.

“This year, with the theme ‘Help a Person, Change the World’, SDYIC 2021 participants will be empowered to devise prototypes that would help solve real-life problems for the community, starting with helping one person around them.

“This is to encourage and shape the students to become caring citizens who are connected to their surroundings and communities,” said Yayasan Sime Darby.

SDYIC 2021 is open to all secondary school-students aged between 13and 17 years old, in a team of two to three members.

The winning teams will receive prizes in the form of innovation grants worth RM60,000 in total to kick start their community adoption projects.

There will also be other special award categories up for grabs.

Interested parties are required to register their team now at www.younginnovators.my, before the deadline this Aug 28.

For more corporate social responsibility(CSR) initiatives, visit www.yayasansimedarby.com.