Students draw from their own experiences to find solutions in cross-institution hackathon

Award winners and judges taking a group photo during the Build On, Singapore 2019 Hackathon at Suntec Convention Centre on Sept 24, 2019.
Award winners and judges taking a group photo during the Build On, Singapore 2019 Hackathon at Suntec Convention Centre on Sept 24, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Young people tapped their own real-life issues as inspiration to win big at a cross-institution hackathon which culminated on Tuesday (Sept 24).

The ideas included an integrated solution that would not only direct a driver to a location but find him a parking space too, as well as a training platform for young people that would also connect them with employers for part-time jobs.

The Build On Singapore 2019 Hackathon, organised jointly by Amazon Web Services (AWS), National University of Singapore (NUS), and the Government Technology Agency (Govtech), drew 51 entries from students of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), junior colleges (JC), polytechnics, and universities

The three-week programme, which started on Aug 30, challenged the teams to select and develop solutions using technology for six propositions.

These were based on issues drawn from everyday life, such as helping drivers find the best routes and cheapest places to park, or creating ways to improve school campuses.

The contest whittled the teams down to 38, who pitched their solutions on Tuesday at the final at Suntec Convention Centre.

The teams used experiences that had daily impact on them.

For instance, Singapore Polytechnic's team was inspired by one of their members, a foreign student holding multiple jobs to pay her tuition fees.

Nexus, the team's creation, requires users to carry out various quests to improve their skill sets, for which they are matched with potential employers for paid part-time jobs.


One NUS team put together NoSqueeze, a mobile app that integrates a student's schedule with the bus schedule, creating a customised timetable to help the user avoid crowded buses or being late for school.

Said one of the team members Sim Sheng Qin, 22: "I saw this old woman on a wheelchair who was struggling to get on a crowded bus. I shared this with my team and we thought that solving this issue in a school environment would be a good start."

The students pitched their ideas to various judges from different industry backgrounds, such as Mr Glen Francis, chief technology officer of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), and Mr Tommy Hor, chief information technology officer of NUS.

Mr Francis said that SPH as a tech-centric and progressive company could support young entrepreneurs at the event, by providing knowledge and expertise.

The winners were:

  • For Category A (university): NUS’s team, 5 Peas in a Pod, who pitched a concept of integrating navigation and parking prices.
  • For Category B (polytechnic): Meow from Singapore Polytechnic, who matched unemployed youths to jobs in a gamified way.
  • For Category C (ITE and JC): CloudByters, a team from ITE College West. The team proposed a facilities-booking system for their own college.