HE was close to tears and choked as he vowed to give his mother a better life.
Wong Zhe Jia Fook washed dishes in restaurants, was a waiter, sold shoes in malls and did other odd jobs to support himself and his mother, who is disabled.
The Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) recent graduate in Civil Engineering came up with the idea to create his own company and app, along with three other friends, called PRINTcess.
Costing lower than the market rate, Jia Fook and his friends aimed to create something convenient for students.
“As students, we have ‘suffered’ at the hands of traditional printers, especially in areas where there aren’t many printing shops.
“It is inefficient and takes too much time.
“With our app, users can choose the settings on their own, similar to what one would do when they go to a printing shop, but in advance.
“After payment, they will receive a QR Code, which will be used to scan on our printers and immediately, their documents will be printed out,” shared Jia Fook, 24.
The idea was born while he was studying in UTAR, at the varsity’s Unovate Centre, which was established in January 2018.
The centre aims to cultivate the culture of entrepreneurship among students and to nurture the development of young businesses or start-ups.
Jia Fook has expanded his project to five other varsities, namely UCSI University, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, Sunway University and the UTAR Kampar campus.
In the next two years, he hopes to install PRINTcess in convenience stores too.
“My background has spurred me to become independent from an early age and taught me to be more determined to start earning a living,” he added.
The Unovate Centre was set up after a group of students from the varsity’s Makers Club used its concourse area to brainstorm project ideas.
The centre allows innovative students to use their entrepreneurial drive to earn some pocket money. These students come from lower income families but through this centre they are given an avenue to put their ideas to use while earning pocket money with the university’s support and guidance. The unovate centre is a business incubator.
“Sometimes, certain projects are too big and often, there isn’t enough space in the university.
“We started using this little space and would bring our tools to work there.
“UTAR then approached us and said there’s an incubator (the Unovate Centre) which we can use as an opportunity to kickstart our projects as a business,” said Lim Kai Wen, 22, the chairman of Makers Club.
The club, said Kai Wen, was established to address issues faced by students, such as financial problems, space and building the culture of creating ideas and projects.
Taking the opportunity presented by UTAR, Kai Wen, a Mechatronics Engineering student, along with six other members, came up with several interesting projects including modifying drones and making 3D printed shoes for stroke patients.
“We strengthened the structure of these drones, made it lighter and other minor modifications.
“The shoes were made by 3D drawing. It doesn’t take much effort to wear the shoes.
“A patient just has to slip his or her feet into the shoes and immediately, a lever inside will trigger a peg which will close the shoes.
“To remove, we built a wooden platform which acts as a key. Patients just need to step on it and the shoes will open itself,” he said.
Kai Wen and his club members want to sell the 3D printed shoes to the market but first, they plan to submit it for competitions.
His dad works as a contractor and his mother is a housewife with a gift for tailoring.
“Their combination of art and craft, and knowing how to choose the right materials for projects, shaped my own skills and knowledge.
“I would visit shops to see how the toys work and subsequently build them myself using cardboard and any material I could use at home.
“This skill has come in handy today,” he added.
Impressed with the efforts, UTAR chancellor Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik encouraged the students to share the knowledge of what they are doing and disseminate it to others.
“What you remember best is what you learn (practically).
“The love for knowledge and creation should be instilled from young,” said Dr Ling during a visit to the Unovate Centre on Tuesday.
Dr Ling’s spouse Toh Puan Ena Ling, UTAR president Prof Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik and department of consultancy and commercialisation head Ching Yen Choon were also present. The Unovate Centre falls under Ching’s purview.
Did you find this article insightful?