In preparing students for the fast-paced world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), INTI International College Penang (INTI), recently collaborated with local secondary schools to offer a mentorship programme to secondary students. The mentorship programme was developed to support students who were participating in Sime Darby’s Young Innovation Challenge, and was also an opportunity for INTI students to connect and teach junior learners, alongside school teachers.

 


Young learners from one of the participating secondary schools in Penang demonstrate their STEM ideas of STEM during the competition.

A study conducted by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2017 reported that more than 94% of undergraduates found mentoring helpful in promoting self-reflection and in helping them develop their own personal skills and knowledge, especially in practical areas related to STEM .

Riding on the opportunity to give back to the schools as well as enhance their own understanding, INTI students from the Diploma in Information and Communication Technology programme; the Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme; the Bachelor of Communication Technology and the Bachelor of Computer Science programmes, assisted in training these young learners, and picked up a few good mentoring skills along the way.

“Four months before the mentorship programme, INTI students participated in a ‘Train the Trainer Camp’ which provided them invaluable knowledge on how to guide their mentees. This process encouraged them to explore the problems a secondary school student may face in preparing for the competition, and possible solutions via open-source technologies,” commented Ms Asvhini Subramaniam, Head of Programme for Information Technology courses at INTI Penang.

 


The Top 10 teams celebrating their win with the judges and Ms Hemalatha Murugiah (centre), Chief Executive of INTI International College Penang, after the prize giving ceremony for the Sime Darby Young Innovators Challenge 2018 – state level competition.

The mentorship proper was conducted over a period of four months, with INTI student-mentors helping their mentees from different secondary schools in Penang to produce workable prototypes and actionable innovative solutions in the areas of food and agriculture; automotive and mobility; healthcare; home and shelter; heavy equipment and machinery; as well as retail and customer service industries.

“During this period, our students travelled throughout Penang Island and worked with their respective high school teachers and students. We are very proud of the commitment they showed towards mentoring their juniors, in spite the demands of their own study schedules,” added Asvhini.

Mentors worked with teams of three students from each of the respective schools, helping them to pick a STEM-related issue, define a problem statement, and develop a practical solution.

On the actual day of the State-level preliminary competition which was held at INTI, the judges, including INTI’s industry partners from Sime Darby Industrial, Flex, Motorola Solutions, Belogic Venture, Tween Plt, Keysight, Inari, Linear DMS, as well as lecturers were impressed by the efforts of all the participants, particularly in their innovative take on solving real-world challenges.

The two winning teams – ‘Han Chiang 3’ of Han Chiang High School and ‘JQZ Tech’ of SMK Jalan Damai- were selected to represent Penang, joining 13 other teams from schools across Malaysia.

Commenting on the qualities that INTI students had demonstrated while mentoring their secondary school juniors, Asvhini explained that besides instilling a sense of enthusiasm and commitment, they as also played the part of influencers and motivators, were able to help their mentees think about solutions and work independently, and also demonstrated their leadership and coaching capabilities.

“At INTI, we recognise the importance of developing holistic life skills beyond the classroom, and create opportunities where our students can interact with different people from various backgrounds, collaborate with them, and ultimately, become life-long learners who are also giving back to their societies,” concluded Asvhini.