| Siti Hajar |
BRUNEIANS who represented the Sultanate in the prestigious Asia-Pacific ICT Award (APICTA) competition in Jakarta did the country proud yet again last Sunday in a repeat performance that brought home a set of three Merit prizes in three different categories.
As a continuation of the country’s winning streak since 2008, the three teams comprising home-grown talents from Teleconsult Sdn Bhd representing the ICT industry and students from Institut Teknologi Brunei for tertiary education and Chung Hwa Middle School for secondary level education featured ICT products that were valued for either their problem-solution purposes or entertainment for the masses.
Despite the intimidating 183 entries submitted by 13 participating economies including six projects from Brunei, the country’s modest victories in the competitive world of technology is a personification that the nation’s small population has what it takes to stand alongside counterparts that are already established in this fast developing field and the outcome of the competition, especially for the country’s students, is encouraging.
In an interview at the Brunei International Airport with Advisory Judge for APICTA Dr Yong Chee Tuan, it was shared that the delivery of the students’ respective projects were not just “excellent” as it also provides the foundation for hope that future of local ICT innovation among the younger populace will continue its upward trajectory.
“They are the next generation who will build the ICT industry and it is interesting to realise that we can also be competitive in the Asia-Pacific region,” despite the country’s small stature that has been outweighed by the progress that the country has made.
Before the country’s began making its mark in the APICTA competitions, the country “used to walk away empty handed” but the recognition over the past few years is also hoped to serve an inspirations to other like-minded students as a means to encourage more young men and women, girls and boys, to adopt the ICT mind-set as part of their educational experiences and, even potentially, explore entrepreneurship possibilities in game-changing roles in the world of technology.
Though this year’s competitors fell slight short of becoming the ultimate champions in the respective categories, the future holds only possibilities to be even better.
“We have to work harder next time around with the consideration that this is a very competitive arena. Some students from around the Asia-Pacific spend years developing their products before entering the competition,” he explained and also shared that the successes that Brunei has seen in APICTA thus far have also stemmed from contributions invested by teachers, government as well as Non-Government Organisations.
With incentives that also includes international recognition as well as grants to further develop locally produced technology, stakeholders are now interested to see more school participation in competitions such as APICTA despite the current local participation.
“We have had schools taking part over the years but what we are not getting is the spectrum of participants from other schools and we do hope that more schools from other districts will come forward.”
The students, meanwhile, have expressed astonishment at their own accomplishments but are, nevertheless, proud of what their successes.
With projects that were selected from the Brunei ICT Award (BICTA) ITB students Mariatul Kiptiah Ariffin along with Dk Nur Azimah Pg Abd Aziz and Nurul Nadhirah Mustapha utilised augmented reality to deliver the story of the Sulu Princess on mobile phones through inspiration that encouraged them to be different.
“The project was for our HND final year and we wanted to stand out from the rest of our colleagues,” explained Mariatul and Dk Nur Azimah whose remaining counterpart was not able to present at the airport.
“It was hard to believe that we were awarded the runner-up title,” they added and shared that the announcement was bitter-sweet as the team was not able to attend the ceremony in Jakarta due to exam commitments that were held earlier on Monday and had expressed their gratitude for the support that have been provided to them throughout their experience.
The project that took four month to create can be downloaded for free from Google Play for Android and is currently under the Copyright of ITB with plans to offer an extended version for a small fee in the future.
For the youngest of Brunei’s competing teams from Chung Hwa Middle School with both at the tender age of 15, coming in second in their category has fuelled their aspirations to develop their project to the next level.
Entitled ‘Heritage of Southeast Asia’, which can also be found on Google Play and 1Mobile Market, the project is an application software that caters to the needs of tourist looking to visit the 10-bloc region that features places of interests and information that travellers typically seek.
The undertaking, it was shared, involved extensive research with content derived from tourism boards, embassies as well as websites that were merged together to create a user-friendly mobile application.