5 win Microsoft scholarship for disabled

(From left) Mr Then An Zhi, 22, Mr Mohamed Najulah, 19, Mr Ang Chin Hao, 21, Mr Daryl Loh, 18, and Ms Er Xue Hui, 20, are the five recipients of the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship this year. The award, administered by volunteer welfare organisation
(From left) Mr Then An Zhi, 22, Mr Mohamed Najulah, 19, Mr Ang Chin Hao, 21, Mr Daryl Loh, 18, and Ms Er Xue Hui, 20, are the five recipients of the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship this year. The award, administered by volunteer welfare organisation SPD, aims to help young people with disabilities pursue higher education in IT-related fields.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Scholarship supports promising youth taking diploma or degree courses in IT-related fields

For 19-year-old Mohamed Najulah, who was born with brittle bone disease, going out with friends has always been a matter for careful consideration.

The second-year Singapore Polytechnic student moves around in a wheelchair and so he always has to plan his routes before going out.

However, the computer-savvy business information technology student and some friends created an app with which users can share wheelchair-accessible routes with one another.

Called Happy Wheel, the app allows users to access paths mapped out by others, saving them planning time.

It won an award at a hackathon event in April this year and is now under further development.

Called Happy Wheel, (the app) allows users to access paths mapped out by others, saving them planning time. It won an award at a hackathon event in February this year and is now under further development. It has not been confirmed for public release.

The app has not been confirmed for public release.

Yesterday, he joined four others in receiving the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship.

Launched in 2009 and administered by voluntary welfare organisation SPD, the scholarship supports promising youth with disabilities who are taking diploma or degree courses in fields related to IT.

Every year, recipients pursuing degree courses receive $12,000, and those pursuing diploma courses get $5,000.

The scholarship has been awarded to 26 students since its introduction.

Another scholarship recipient this year, Mr Ang Chin Hao, 21, is a computer engineering student at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

He was born with macular dystrophy, a genetic eye disorder that causes vision loss.

He is one of two students to be awarded the scholarship twice - once for his diploma and again for his degree course.

The first scholarship he received had spurred him to achieve good grades in polytechnic, he said.

After his university degree, he wants to become an IT entrepreneur.

The other recipients of the award this year are 20-year-old Er Xue Hui, 22-year-old Then An Zhi and 18-year-old Daryl Loh.

The students share an aspiration to improve the lives of others in their future work.

Ms Er has severe hearing impairment in both ears and was four years old when first diagnosed.

She is now a computer science student minoring in mathematics.

She hopes to give back to society and has been doing so through her school activities.

As a secondary school student, she went on trips to Cambodia to help set up access to education for Cambodians with hearing impairment.

Mr Then, who is also hearing impaired, is a computer science student at NTU.

He aims to master different programming languages to create technologies that can help the elderly and disabled.

Mr Loh, who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at six, studies infocomm security management at Singapore Polytechnic. He hopes to defend Singapore from online terrorists one day.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2015, with the headline '5 win Microsoft scholarship for disabled'. Print Edition | Subscribe