The Sime Darby Young Innovators Challenge (SDYIC), hosted by Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) returned for its fifth edition this year, continuing to provide secondary school students with a platform to develop their 21st-century skills. In conjunction with World’s Children Day, 15 finalist teams were chosen to compete at the national level. Embodying this year’s theme, “Help A Person, Change the World,” the programme aims to highlight innovative ideas in solving real-life problems for the community, starting with helping one person around the students.
Following the announcement of 15 finalists out of 1,581 students comprising 610 teams from 406 schools nationwide, the teams were evaluated based on the scalability, targeted impact to the community, regulatory compliance, and implementation of their prototypes. They were also qualified for a month of training and exposure in the SDYIC 2020 National Camp which commenced recently. Through this programme, students will have the opportunity to hone various fundamental innovation skills along with comprehensive guidance sessions as well as how to develop a good pitch to effectively communicate their innovative ideas.
After the completion of the camp, the 15 finalist teams will be required to pitch the potential impact and outcome of their community adoption projects which will be held during the SDYIC 2020 Grand Finale in December 2020. At least three winning teams will be chosen to receive innovation grants totalling RM60,000. The winning teams will stand a chance to further refine their prototypes by working with targeted communities before implementing their inventions to solve the communities’ issues and challenges.
Beyond that, the foundation also recognised SDYIC alumni and winners, specifically three students from SMK Lutong who invented a solution called “The Beep.” This winning idea is aimed at reducing traffic congestion at schools via a device which notifies students of their parents’ arrivals. The invention hopes to benefit 1,500 local communities in Lutong, Sarawak, with 100 prototype units targeted for distribution to parents and students of SK Lutong starting in January 2021.
YSD Chief Executive Officer Dr. Hjh Yatela Zainal Abidin said, “The SDYIC is an initiative that we hold very close to our hearts, aiming to provide youths in Malaysia with exposure to practical innovation skills for creative solutions that are in line with The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Students will be able to collaborate and discover innovative, creative, and actionable solutions by honing design thinking, innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills. Moreover, the SDYIC also provides the two groups of mentors with learning opportunities — a one-of-a-kind training that improves pedagogical skills with innovative teaching methods for the secondary school teachers, and an opportunity to enhance technical and soft skills for the undergraduate students.
“We are also proud to support and bring together national and state education agencies, universities, the community and members of the technology industry to celebrate the talent, creativity and inventiveness of secondary school students in Malaysia,” she added.
Driving Digital Transformation to the New Normal
The SDYIC programme was founded to promote the cultivation of an innovative mindset among youths between 13 and 17 years old in Malaysia. Participants are encouraged and assisted to develop smart and innovative solutions to effectively address issues and challenges faced by local communities. These efforts are manifested by students through the smart creation of functional prototypes via the adoption of various open-source hardware and software platforms.
This year’s SDYIC is the first-of-its-kind edition within the flagship programme’s history as YSD strives to leverage on existing technology and digital capabilities to introduce virtually innovative workshops, programmes, and competitions. Having already committed RM750,000 to see SDYIC 2020 through from January 2020, YSD is partnering with Chumbaka Sdn Bhd (Chumbaka) once again to provide Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training at schools nationwide. The social business start-up is a training provider approved by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and endorsed by the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
Ahead of its time, the SDYIC 2020 new online platform was planned since last year, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced most initiatives to go online. This year’s SDYIC offers a more extensive experience through exclusive online sharing sessions with more than 30 industry professionals including experienced Sime Darby employees and innovation officers. Besides that, participants of SDYIC are equipped with online self-learning materials and the opportunity to attend virtual feedback sessions with innovation mentors and former SDYIC winning teams.
Since its inception, SDYIC saw 1,224 secondary school teachers and 935 undergraduate students training to apply design thinking, gamification of learning and prototyping using the Arduino platform through its annual Train the Trainer (TTT) programme. This enabled teachers to continue guiding secondary school students with these skills even after the conclusion of the programme, towards the inculcation of an innovative culture in schools.
A Look into SDYIC Over the Years
Since its inception in 2016, the foundation has committed over RM4.28 million to SDYIC under its Education pillar. The programme has reached out to 11,438 secondary school students, undergraduate students, school teachers and Sime Darby Innovation Officers, in collaboration with Chumbaka, state education departments, and partnering universities.
YSD Chairman Y.A.M. Tunku Tan Sri Imran Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar said, “It is heart-warming to see so many bright and innovative students participating in the SDYIC throughout these years. This initiative will further nurture students with sought-after skills such as critical thinking, communication and problem-solving. To date, YSD has supported four winning ideas that have been developed into working prototypes that stand to benefit the local communities. We are truly blessed to have so much talent among our youth, and we shall continue to assist them to uncover their aptitudes for the good of society and the world.”
As the foundation strives towards nurturing the inventive spirit in the Malaysian youths, it also aims to increase the participation of female students as well as students from rural areas in the coming editions of SDYIC.
Over the years, local communities have also benefited from winning prototypes such as “Robin Food,” a platform that connects supermarkets with surpluses of food to non-governmental organisations and charitable organisations, a portable and affordable microscope created to address the insufficient number of microscopes in schools called “Mykroskope,” and “D-Monitor” which is a drain water monitoring project. Moving forward, YSD hopes to continue encouraging Malaysian youths to innovate towards problem-solving while promoting capacity-building and development of technical and soft skills for both undergraduate and secondary school students in Malaysia.