Contest nurtures young problem solvers

(Back row, from left) Lew, Adam, Cigar, Syed Norulzaman and Tan posing with the winners and participants.

A MAH Sing Foundation programme to cultivate the next generation of nation builders reached a step closer to reality at the grand finale of its inaugural Young Nation Builders Challenge (YNBC) at Icon City, Petaling Jaya.

The top four teams – F-Link, Guard Eyes, Safety and DJ Cyborgs – were given 15 minutes to pitch their ideas and prototypes of reimagining the living space within their communities.

The panel of judges comprised Mah Sing’s chief design officer Kevin Lew, Biji-biji Initiative’s chief operating officer Juliana Adam, Epic Communities’ project manager Philip Tan and Community Builders Union’s founder Pixie Cigar.

During each presentation, the teams presented ideas and solutions through techniques they adopted from a four-day boot camp.

Cash prizes totalling RM12,550 were awarded to the winners.

DJ Cyborgs took home the top prize of RM6,500, followed by F-Link in second place with RM3,300 and Guard Eyes in third place with RM2,000.

The consolation prize of RM450 was awarded to the Safety team, while R.Bin bagged RM300 as the best exhibitor.

The competition engaged students aged between 13 and 17 to propose improvements to their communities.

Participants were required to innovate and reinvent spaces based on five design challenges – accessibility, natural disasters, cultural and heritage protection, environmental conservation and transportation connectivity.

A total of 50 Klang Valley secondary school students were grouped into 10 teams and shortlisted during the first phase of the programme.

The teams then participated in the boot camp in March to refine their ideas and develop the prototype of their designs.

They were also awarded grants of up to RM1,500 to produce their designs on the last day of the boot camp.

This was followed by two-and-a-half months for the teams to refine their prototypes and market their projects to the public via social media. The public was invited to vote online to choose the teams for the finale.

Foundation chairman Datuk Syed Norulzaman Syed Kamarulzaman said the competition was designed to get children to observe, learn and empathise with the challenges faced by their communities.

“The inaugural YNBC was carefully planned over the course of a year. Today, I’m immensely pleased to see the foundation’s hard work come to fruition,” Syed Norulzaman said.

“It was a pleasure to witness young minds actively recognising the issues that affect their communities and identifying plausible solutions and working ideas that could be implemented with the foundation’s support.”

Also present at the event was EdSpace co-founder Andrew Yong, the foundation’s partner in the execution of the programme.

“The finale celebrates the end of the competition, but not the end of the children’s journey as nation builders.

“As they graduate from school, we hope to see them use what they have learnt from this competition – grit, teamwork, initiative and communication skills – to keep solving problems around them and to continue to be change makers in their communities,” said Yong.

For more information about YNBC, visit or follow its Facebook page at

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