TechMentor Sarawak heads to Ulu Baram for second year
MIRI: TechMentor Sarawak, a community project aimed at exposing secondary school students to information and communication technology (ICT), is once again impacting schools in Ulu Baram.
TechMentor Sarawak is a project under SAINS On Wheels, a programme initiated by Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), Keysight Technology, Dreamcatcher and the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Centre of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) in partnership with the Yaw Teck Seng Foundation. By exposing students to ICT, it hopes to inspire them to take up careers in the field in the future.
Nine members of Curtin Sarawak’s Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Student Branch and Programming Nation, the university’s programming learning club, as well as two staff volunteers, were involved in the project in Ulu Baram recently.
The team headed to Long Bedian, a four-hour journey from Miri by four-wheel drive vehicle, where they organised a series of activities for over 200 students of Sekolah Model K9 there.
Kicking off the activities was an ICT awareness talk by Siaw Teck Ung of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Curtin Sarawak’s Faculty of Engineering and Science.
The students then participated in the ‘Sam Game’, a design thinking methodology based game that encourages students to solve day-to-day problems innovatively, conducted by volunteers of Programming Nation.
This was followed by an open-source and microcontroller technical workshop, where 36 pre-selected students were trained in basic Arduino know-how; programming and interfacing with various types of sensor and actuators. Arduino is an open-source electronic prototyping platform allowing users to create interactive electronic objects.
Through sample codes and circuit diagrams provided in C520A Arduino Kits provided, the students gained basic knowledge and programming skills, as well as exposure to interfacing techniques between hardware and sensors to create embedded systems.
“TechMentor Sarawak is a great project for students in the interior who are rarely exposed to such knowledge. The mentors from Curtin Sarawak not only share their knowledge, but also motivate our students and get them excited about learning science,” said Rebecca Shinja, a teacher at the school.
“The very hands-on approach they take in teaching students yielded very positive results. They were able to connect very well with the students on a peer-to-peer basis. The students didn’t feel intimidated and were very open about sharing their thoughts and asking questions,” added Rebecca.
According to facilitator Sim Zee Ang, who is an ex-IEEE Student Branch vice-president and Electronics and Communication Engineering graduate, all children should have access to education regardless of geographical boundaries.
“Through TechMentor Sarawak, students will learn that ICT is something they can explore and have fun with, not something that is beyond their grasp,” said Sim.
Lillian Ung, a fellow facilitator and present IEEE Student Branch vice-treasurer, said that the students at Long Bedian were initially very wary of using electronics. However, following the activities, they began to develop critical thinking skills and had a heightened awareness of how electronics impact people’s lives and how they can be a part of it.
This is the second time the mentors visited Sekolah Model K9 Long Bedian. The first was in May 2014.
For more information on Curtin Sarawak, visit its website at www.curtin.edu.my, its Facebook page (CurtinUniversitySarawakMalaysia), Twitter profile (curtinsarawak), YouTube channel (CurtinUniSarawak), or Instagram (curtinsarawak).