S’wakian team wins Nasa Space Apps Challenge


Special guest: Coleman announcing the winner for the Best Use of Technology through a Twitter livestream broadcast.

PETALING JAYA: A group of secondary school students from SMK Bintulu in Sarawak did the nation proud when they were crowned the Global Winners of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) Space Apps Challenge 2021, the world’s largest global hackathon.

They were one of the 10 global winners announced yesterday at midnight by retired Nasa Astronaut Cady Coleman, through a Twitter Livestream broadcast. The team comprised Edwin Ting Heng Wei, Isaac Yong Wei Onn, Yiek Siew Hao, Jayden Lu Zheng Li and Sean Lee Jia Roung, supported by teacher Chew Ai Fang.

With their group name, “Change Makers,” the students were awarded the ‘Best Use of Technology Global Award’, with their intuitive dashboard that helps streamline and simplify the data given by Nasa, allowing homeowners to easily gain access to meteorological data such as solar irradiance, wind speed, surrounding temperature, humidity and amount of clouds.

This data will help homeowners maximise the output of solar panels and solar energy.

Winning team: A poster of the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2021 winners uploaded by the Space Apps Sarawak Facebook page.Winning team: A poster of the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2021 winners uploaded by the Space Apps Sarawak Facebook page.

“Nasa Space Apps Challenge gives local talents a stage to solve global challenges that are impacting our lives through science, technology, engineering, and maths,” Sarawak Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research (MESTR) Permanent Secretary Datuk Kameri Affandi said yesterday.

“We are glad to be partnering with Nasa to help develop 21st century skills for our next generation, particularly collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and most importantly, communication.”

The ministry aims to organise a bigger Nasa Hackathon in Sarawak next year, targeting more participants with attractive programmes and prizes.

Team Change Makers were part of the 37 finalists from 320 locations worldwide, competing for the 10 Global Awards of the Nasa Space Apps Challenge 2021. They were also one of the three Sarawakian teams that represented Malaysia among the 37 global finalists.

The other two teams were team SMK Pujut Educators from Miri, and team Dirty Bits from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). The three teams from Sarawak were selected from the Nasa Space Apps Challenge Sarawak 2021.

As part of the award, the team will receive an invitation from Nasa to visit their facility in the United States, subject to prevailing Covid-19 travel conditions and visa requirements.

The Nasa Space Apps Challenge is a 48-hour hackathon where designers, scientists, coders and storytellers use Nasa’s open data to solve real-world problems on earth and in space. As an international competition, the Sarawak event known as Nasa Space Apps Sarawak 2021 was held virtually in October this year and attracted 87 team participants, and was organised by the MESTR in partnership with Realfun Learning Center.

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