M’sians beat Canadian teams in data storytelling

Chart-topping: Foong (left) and Kong garnered the most number of votes with their dashboard to win the Viewer’s Choice Award.

AT a young age, Foong Kit Wah took an interest in finding patterns in data.

As the years passed, that interest blossomed into a passion for data analytics, with the 21-year-old zealously digging deeper to find out the meaning behind these patterns.

That passion recently bore fruit with him and his teammate Kong Xin Ying winning the Viewer’s Choice Award at the 2021 edition of the Data Challenge – Tell a Story with Data competition.

Both Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) students, they garnered 1,000 votes to clinch the award, beating 26 other teams from 12 Canadian universities in the virtual competition organised by the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

Naming their team Majestic, the duo shared the story of Canada’s progression in achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) from a dataset by creating a dashboard with effective visualisations.

It was this dashboard that won them the votes in the Infographic Poster round (Data Visualisation Track) in the competition that was held on Nov 19 last year.

The Computer Science with a specialism in Data Analytics students walked home with USD$150 (RM628) in cash prize and certificates.

“It took us about two months to prepare the visually attractive dashboard, including deciding on our topic, data collection and data preparation,” Foong told StarEdu.

“Global warming is a concerning issue and one of the most obvious reasons it is happening is excessive greenhouse gas emissions.

“Hence, no one is safe and everyone has a part to play to save our planet, which is getting sicker by the day,” he added.

His teammate Kong, on the other hand, was drawn to taking part in the competition as she wanted to actively practise the skills and knowledge she had learned through her data analytics degree programme.

“I came across big data a few years ago when it was popular online and when I did some research about it, I realised how impactful the job of a data analyst and data scientist is today.

“The more I explored the field of data analytics, the more I was interested in learning about it,” said the 22-year-old who enjoyed mathematics in secondary school and considered possible career options based on her interest in the subject.

Being the only team to represent Malaysia at the international competition gave the pair a mix of emotions, ranging from anxiety to excitement.

Unable to sleep the night before the results were announced, Kong said it was 4.30am when they got news of their win due to the time difference.

“I was quite tired and in a daze at that time, and it felt like everything happened so fast,” she recalled.

Expressing his gratitude to the team’s mentor APU School of Computing lecturer Mafas Raheem, Foong also called on his peers who participate in such competitions not to give up.

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