Students getting set for Curtin Ultimate Croc Challenge

Students familiarising themselves with microcontroller kits.

Students familiarising themselves with microcontroller kits.

MIRI: Students from 14 secondary schools in Miri are gearing up for competition in the ‘Curtin Ultimate Croc Challenge’, an electronics design competition being organised by Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) as part of its Curtin Sarawak Open Day activities October 8 this year.

This inaugural ‘Curtin Ultimate Croc Challenge’ is the brainchild of Curtin Sarawak Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Jim Mienczakowski and is being championed by academics of Curtin Sarawak’s Faculty of Engineering and Science with support from the university’s Office of Research and Development.

The competition aims to promote an interest in electronics and engineering, as well as an appreciation of crocodiles as a natural and integral part of Sarawak’s eco-system, among students. It requires the competing teams to design and develop simple electronic systems that can sense the presence of crocodiles utilising programmable microcontroller kits.

To familiarise them with the Arduino UNO microcontroller kits provided and teach them basic programming skills so they can get started on their projects, lecturer of electrical and computer engineering Dr. Wong Wei Kitt conducted a workshop for 50 of the students recently. The workshop was also attended by 10 supervising teachers from the participating schools.

Other members of Dr. Wong’s organising team are lecturers Dr. Yam Ke San, Dr. Raymond Chiong and Dr. Garenth Lim, as well as student members of Curtin Sarawak’s Institution of Engineers (IEM) Malaysia Young Engineers Section (YES).

“We are very pleased with the response from the schools and students. Everyone was very enthusiastic and quick to learn and I think there will be very keen competition between the teams on Open Day,” commented Dr. Wong following the workshop.

He said the teams will not only design crocodile alert systems using simple electronics and programming but also demonstrate their concepts through working scale models and posters. Mentors from the university have been assigned to each team to guide them in constructing their devices.

Dr. Wong added that active crocodile warning systems could benefit thousands of riverine communities in Borneo that are prone to crocodile attacks. They could sense the presence of crocodiles in rivers and immediately alert villagers of impending crocodile encroachment through various means such as alarms, flags or even mobile messaging systems.

Lecturers, mentors and participating students during the workshop.

Lecturers, mentors and participating students during the workshop.

The teams’ projects will be showcased and judged by a panel of the university’s academics during the Open Day. Members of the public and supporters from the participating schools are invited to view the projects at the foyer of the Harry Perkins Lecture Theatre (Falcon 1) between 10 am and 4 pm, and root for their favourite teams during the project evaluation from 2pm to 4 pm.

The competition, which is set to be an annual fixture of the Curtin Open Day, is open to students of secondary schools throughout East Malaysia. Judging will be based on the team’s creativity, novelty and feasibility of their solutions, and presentation method.

The top three teams will receive cash prizes of RM2000, RM1000 and RM500 respectively. In addition, each participant will receive a RM50 book voucher and certificate of participation.

Besides the ‘Curtin Ultimate Croc Challenge’, other competitions being organised by the university’s faculties in conjunction with the Open Day are the ‘Business Genius Challenge’ (business knowledge quiz) by the Faculty of Business and ‘So You Think You Can Spell?’ (spelling challenge) by the Faculty of Humanities.

In addition, there will be the ‘Young Innovate Miri’, another electronics design competition using open-source hardware and software jointly organised by the Faculty of Engineering and Science with support from the Curtin Sarawak Leadership & Entrepreneurship Centre, Curtin Sarawak IEEE Student Chapter and industry partners.

‘Young Innovate Miri’ is part of the nationwide ‘Young Innovate’ programme and national embedded system design competition and the top three teams in the competition will represent Sarawak at ‘Young Innovate Malaysia’ to be held in Kuala Lumpur.

There will also be the semi-finals and finals of the Curtin Gaming Championship featuring DOTA and FIFA organised by the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Curtin Sarawak Student Council and International Students Association. Some 30 teams are expected to participate in the championship.

Curtin Sarawak Open Day 2016 will feature a number of new attractions and give visitors an exciting taste of life at Curtin University’s largest international campus. Geared to offer a fun, hands-on learning experience in a festival-like atmosphere, it will be a chance for potential students to explore Curtin Sarawak’s vibrant campus, learn about the courses it offers, and speak with lecturers and current students. The day will also feature showcases of its faculties, interactive exhibitions, guided tours of the campus, free entertainment, prizes, food stalls and more. For more information, go to

For more information on Curtin Sarawak, visit or find it on Facebook (Curtin University Sarawak Malaysia), Twitter (curtinsarawak), YouTube (CurtinUniSarawak) or Instagram (curtinsarawak).

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