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Mentoring students in the Sime Darby Young Innovators Challenge



Sime Darby Young Innovators Challenge is a Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) flagship educational programme that promotes the cultivation of an innovative mindset among youth between 13 and 17 years of age in Malaysia. SDYIC participants are given the opportunity to enhance their leadership qualities, learn design thinking and innovative problem solving, as well as prototyping skills, while competing against state-level competition winners. The students will produce workable prototypes and actionable innovative solutions in the various areas in the communities.

Apart from being a national competition, the event also includes the Train the Trainer (TTT) programme for undergraduate students and secondary school teachers. This offers avenues of wisdom, expertise and assistance at the undergraduate and secondary school levels to promote and advance the innovation skills of people who believe that they can achieve more. This is also an initiative to reduce gaps between rural and urban schools by creating a wholesome experience to exercise creativity and problem solving beyond the school syllabus.

YSD speaks to Matthew Teng Kit Khinn and Shuhaily Yusoff, both teachers and mentors from SDYIC 2020 for their insights into the programme.



1. Can you tell us more about yourself?

Shalom, my name is Matthew Teng Kit Khinn, and I am currently a final year student in MMU Melaka and also the president of Robotics Club for the 2020/2021 term. I started to learn programming when I was in the first year of my Degree in Electronics majoring in Robotics and Automations. Programming for robotics really made me think critically while also thinking out of the box. There are many ways to programme a robot to do the same task, but finding the most efficient method is quite challenging. So, I like to challenge myself to think and solve the problem at hand while programming a robot or building hardware mechanics.

2. Can you share with us your experience as a teacher/mentor during SDYIC 2020?

I joined Robocon 2019 and from there, I learned more about programming and hardware mechanics. So when I was the coordinator for SDYIC 2020, I thought to myself “Why don’t I share my knowledge with these young students while mentoring them?” The participants from SMK Pulau Sebang put in their effort to complete their project on their own and I gave them feedback to let them think critically and also sharpen their problem-solving skills. They did a good job last year.

3. SDYIC 2020 was the first-ever edition since 2016 to have been conducted entirely online. What were the challenges you have encountered?

One of the challenges is internet connectivity. A stable internet connection makes online discussions much easier and smoother without the interference of disconnection. We also have a hard time communicating with the students because they might be shy to speak up during online discussions.

4. How did you navigate those challenges, and what makes it all worth it?

I would try to keep the conversations alive while giving some feedback to trigger their thinking. It is also best for students to keep their camera on during discussions in the future.

5. What did you achieve and learn throughout the competition?

I have learnt to maintain perseverance and patience in solving problems. As such, giving up is not an option. I would always try my best with the things I commit to and hope for the best. Winning in a competition is just a bonus but the knowledge I obtain is the most valuable thing.

6. How did you strategise and prepare the students/participants for the competition despite the pandemic?

If I have committed myself to mentoring the students, I will try my best to provide guidance and provide feedback to let the students consider and think in other perspectives. My aim would be to trigger their thinking and not provide them with a direct solution.

7. Can you share how did the competition help to achieve some of your goals?

I have learnt their project concepts and I applied these concepts with additional features for my own assignment projects. I also joined a project showcase competition organised by MMU which was judged by engineers from 5 different companies. My team consisted of 3 people and we managed to add in a GUI door system, facemask detection, 3d printed automated hand sanitizer, RFID and movable height temperature sensor. We were awarded champions for this project showcase.

8. What are your hopes and advice to aspiring innovators?

Time management. Always manage your time well and prioritise what needs to be done. Setting small goals to achieve will give you more confidence once you achieve them. Never procrastinate your work. Instead make small progress towards success without giving up. Lastly, always be thankful to God for what you have and for your special talents. Use your talents to serve the community too.


1. Can you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Shuhaily Yusoff. I have been teaching for the past 23 years. My focus is on information technology and I also have an advanced level 3 skills certificate in aesthetics. I teach Basic Computer Science, Mathematics and Upper Secondary Vocational Program (PVMA) Aesthetics.

I began my involvement in robotics and innovation from 2017 when I was given the opportunity by Principal Tuan Haji Mohd Nazri bin Muhamad. In the beginning I always worked closely with Muhamad bin Berahim, who is a senior vocational teacher. In my first year, we joined the robotics competition to gain experience.

In 2018, we successfully brought the school to the national level and were placed among the top ten, which was our first win.

In 2019, I was entrusted to guide students in the Young Maker Challenge. My students came up with the idea to build a portable grass cutter that uses mobile phones as a remote. We won the Gold medal at the state level which qualified us to compete at the national level. The competition was incredibly tight at this stage. In the same year, I led a group of students in the Level Up @ School competition, hosted by MDEC. The students built a computer game, and we won “The Best Technology” award at the national level. In robotics, 3 of the teams I led were awarded gold medals at the East Coast chapter of the competition. 2019 was also the first year my school participated in the Young Innovators Challenge and won first runner up, where my students invented a smart bus.

In 2020, I was again given the opportunity to enter a competition hosted by University Malaysia Kelantan, where we submitted our game and grass cutter for consideration. Our team won the Gold Award for this competition.
Following which, at the International Malaysia Technology Expo at PWTC, the grass cutter won the Gold award while the game won Bronze.
I then guided the students in a competition to build a website, which won first place at state level and fifth at national level.

2. Can you share with us your experience as a teacher/mentor during SDYIC 2020?

It was difficult because of COVID-19, the Movement Control Order (MCO) and difficulties in meeting with students. I only managed to check in on them via WhatsApp. When we had the opportunity to meet in school, I took advantage of that time to guide them after school. I usually left school late in order to spend time guiding them. I give a lot of freedom to the students to use their own ideas because to me, the students will mature faster and become more responsible over their invention.

SDYIC 2020 was the first-ever edition since 2016 to have been conducted entirely online. What were the challenges you have encountered?
It was difficult to contact them to alert them on each meeting as most of my students live in areas with internet connectivity issues.

3. How did you navigate those challenges, and what makes it all worth it?

I always motivate the students and encourage them to come to school because the internet connection on campus is quite good. It is worth going through this because through all the effort put in by the students, it will ultimately be to their benefit.

4. What did you achieve and learn throughout the competition?

Teamwork is incredibly important and understanding and cooperation with teachers as well as students too. We have built a great bond between student and teacher.

5. How did you strategise and prepare the students/participants for the competition despite the pandemic?

I did not have a strategy, I just continued to speak from my heart with my students. I can see my students are tired, but this is where I played my role to encourage them. Not just me but other teachers, administrators, and the principal, who were all supportive, and encouraged them too. So when all parties are supportive, the students will automatically have the motivation even when they are at a disadvantage because of the pandemic.

6. Can you share how did the competition help to achieve some of your goals?

Of course, my goal is to win but that is not the main motivation. I want my students to become more confident and face crowds, which I believe I have achieved. I know my students very well. Lokman, Faiz and Atif all had limited exposure outside their communities, they were shy and lacked confidence when speaking. But I am proud now, they are very different from how they were before. This is personal development and they achieved this through the online competitions. In the initial meetings, they were asked tough questions and they were unprepared, and that was where they learned from their mistakes. Thank you again.

7. What are your hopes and advice to aspiring innovators?

I hope that these types of competitions will repeat and continue every year to provide opportunities for students to realise their talents and any potential within them.


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Last Updated:
30 Sep 2021
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