Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reaching Dreams at Imagine Cup

By Marcus Lee, Year 3, Diploma in Digital Media Design

A smashing final year for School of Information Technology (SIT) student Mong Yunheng as he takes a top spot for NYP in New York

Imagine Cup is an annual competition sponsored and hosted by Microsoft Corp. It gathers students and aspiring young technologists around the globe to lend their hand in resolving some of the world greatest challenges. Running through two legs, in Singapore and the worldwide finals in New York, few have the honour of being placing top three in their categories.

This year, among the four categories in which Singapore made the finals, one of NYP’s students, Mong Yunheng, was awarded second runners-up worldwide for the IT Challenge segment of Imagine Cup 2011. Yunheng is a final year student from SIT doing his Diploma in Information Security. He is also one of NYP’s 4 Microsoft Student Partners.

Yunheng shared his experiences of participating in Imagine Cup, both in Singapore and New York.

He was inspired to compete in Imagine Cup because it allowed him to utilize the vast knowledge and skills he gained from his education and pit them against the difficult IT infrastructure scenarios presented to him during the course of the competition.

With the hurdle of juggling school work and delivering for the competition, Yunheng found the support from his lecturers and friends vital in managing the stress and giving him confidence for victory. Bolstered by his own capability and the training SIT has given him, he found himself in good stead and ready to take on his competitors.

Unlike most categories with national rounds, the IT Challenge comprised only of international rounds. So instead of competing against the 46 Singaporean competitors who were also vying to enter the finals, he was competing with over 6,000 people worldwide. Yunheng stated that this was the first time he has been “involved in a competition of this scale and the number of competitors definitely added more anticipation and excitement.”

During the first few hours of the competition, Yunheng was energetic and nervous, but as the hours passed, fatigue kicked in. Fortunately, during the 24 hour period the contestants were provided with a continuous supply of food and drinks such as Red Bull.

It was a big achievement for Yunheng to have achieved his position of second runner-up in this international competition, being one of the youngest candidates and pitting against university-level competitors. Yunheng sees each finalist as a champion in their own country and has also expressed that the journey was truly rewarding.

For his efforts, Yunheng was presented with US$3,000. He will be saving most of this fund for further studies, while a portion will be spent on gifts and meals to treat those who stood by and supported him during the competition.

For Yunheng, learning the new technologies introduced to him during the competition was enjoyable and enlightening. Describing the atmosphere of the competition and New York, Yunheng mentioned the competitors’ passion for technology and enthusiasm was contagious, which rubbed off others. He loved how it felt to be soaking up the atmosphere with a huge gathering of students who were passionate in the same field as he was.

The environment was also very vibrant, lively and unique as Yunheng describes the depth of the culture and architecture found down each section, or borough as referred to in New York. The people there were also very approachable and “some would even go out of their way to help a tourist” he told us.

“The girls will absolutely love it there because there are simply so many places to shop and things to buy,” he added.

Leaving us with advice for future participants for Imagine Cup or any other competition, Yunheng felt that perseverance is the key to success. “Stay positive and you will discover it will be a rewarding experience, just as I did” he summed up.

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