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UNIMAS and Resident Office Organize Samarahan App Challenge 2018
Thursday 06 December 2018, 08:00am - 05:00pm
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KOTA SAMARAHAN, 6 December 2018 : Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and Resident Office Samarahan has successfully organized a talent development programme to upskill higher secondary school children in four schools.

The main objectives of this programme is to develop app creators amongst youths and to ensure Sarawak has plenty of talents in ICT.

The programme is one of the strategic programmes of Samarahan Future 2025, a wholesome strategic plan to transform Samarahan Division until 2025. UNIMAS provided the modules and mentor to guide the students in developing their own app.

The Sarawak Education Department is involved in coordinating with all the secondary schools in Samarahan Division and getting all the students to participate. Another important stakeholders in the programme are the principals of all the schools involved in the competition.

The programme which is funded by the Ministry of International Trade and eCommerce (MITEC) started a roadshow in May 2018 and ended with a judging competition, Samarahan Apps Challenges in Dec 2018 together with the MITEC’s eCommerce Shoutout 2018 at Borneo 744.

The UNIMAS went for a roadshow to fo SMK Wira Penrissen, SMK Muara Tuang, SMK Asajaya and SMK Kota Samarahan.

Altogether 370 students attended the roadshow and 150 students submitted application for the competition. A screening process ensued to identify the appropriate number of students that fit the capacity of UNIMAS training sessions.

For the Samarahan App Challenge 2018, 58 students were selected and undergo the training sessions. These students are from SMK Wira Penrissen (15 students), SMK Asajaya (17 students), SMK Muara Tuang (11 students) and SMK Kota Samarahan (15 students).

All the students are divided into two batches and each will undergo 5 days training. The training sessions are done in Computer General Laboratory 2 in Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology (FCSIT).

The sessions are conducted on Saturday and Sunday only. The main trainer is Dr Cheah Wai Siang, an Android Certified Trainer and assisted by Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Affendy Arip from Entrepreneurship Development Center, UNIMAS.

The trainers are assisted by one student facilitator and six mentors from undergraduate in FCSIT. After the training sessions, the next phase of the programme involved mentoring and guidance towards developing app by the school students.

There are nine groups formed from all the schools and ready for the app development phase. Almost 80% of the students are from the arts stream while the remainder are from the science stream.

The nine teams started developing the apps from September until December 2018. In the MITEC’s eCommerce Shoutout 2018 they presented the product of their work for judging phase.

There are nine apps developed by the secondary school students. All apps are meant to solve home-grown problems among youth and potential to be further develop with more technical and industry input. All the teams presented their work at Samarahan Apps Challenges and assessed by two judges, Dr Sze San Nah (FCSIT, UNIMAS) and Dr Irma Yazreen binti Md Yusoff (FEB, UNIMAS).

The judging evaluated based on 5 criteria: significant of problem solving, “cool factor” of solution, entrepreneurial settings, innovativeness and presentation. The winner team WM by Ambrose Damron Anak Koplie, Biviana Anak Brit, Nor Eliani Bt Abdul Kadir and Siti Maryam Binti Mohammad, was the only hybrid team from SMK Wira Penrissen and SMK Muara Tuang).

They have developed an educational app called Spellword, that foster the young children to learn English through both audio and visual alike. The 2nd prize was awarded to Selangit Mas Team, from SMK Wira Penrissen who created Bajet World, a retail platform to sell products.

UNIMAS is proud to contribute in this talent development programme for the Samarahan Division. The model is unique and new in fast track app talent development for the industry. There is great potential for Sarawak government to support this programme in the future. It will create students with higher thinking skills, team worker, problem solve and entrepreneurship skills.

The programme will also expose the students to the latest technology in ICT. The whole exercise is a manifestation that developing app is a skill that can be harness to anyone even in secondary schools. It proves that app development is not something beyond secondary schools and not science-based centric.

UNIMAS is keen to pursue the same module again next year provided substantial funding is obtained for the 2019 programme.