Curtin Malaysia’s signature crocodile-themed electronic design competition back for fourth year

Miri – 7 August 2019 – Encouraged by the success of its third ‘Curtin Croc Challenge’ last year, Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) is hosting the fourth edition of its iconic crocodile-themed electronic design competition as part of its Curtin Malaysia Carnival this 21 September 2019.

The Curtin Croc Challenges over the past three years have seen between 10 and 26 teams from local secondary schools pitting their electronic design and programming knowledge and skills and demonstrating simple yet highly innovative system designs in a bid for the top spots and cash prizes.

Droves of carnival visitors and school supporters have also filled the competition venues to view the teams’ projects and support their favourite teams.

Each year’s challenge has featured a slightly different theme, starting with sensing the presence of crocodiles in the inaugural challenge in 2016, then followed by creating alarm systems to warn of crocodile intrusion, and trapping crocodiles for relocation in the subsequent years.

This year, however, the challenge will be known as the ‘Curtin Croc Challenge 4.0: The App Hack-a-thon’ and will introduce participants to a new dimension in electronics and programming. They will develop simple Android mobile apps that interface Bluetooth signals to a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and a network of sensors to show the presence of crocodiles.

Another change in format is while participants prepared their projects beforehand to be tested and judged on competition day in the past, this year’s challenge will be an exciting and fun full-day hack-a-thon where participants, in teams comprising three students and an accompanying teacher, will develop their apps on-the-spot.

They will use App Inventor, the scratch programme for non-engineers, on PC tablets provided to create their apps within 5 hours. To make it even more challenging, the actual case study or challenge scenario will only be revealed on the day itself.

To prepare them for the challenge, participants will acquire the necessary app design and programming knowledge from easy-to-understand online tutorials provided by the organisers. They will also be required to attend an app development workshop conducted at the university campus one day prior to the challenge.

According to competition coordinator, electrical and computer engineering senior lecturer Dr. Wong Wei Kitt, the organisers hope to see a good response from schools in Miri, in addition to invited schools in other locations. Participation is free-of-charge and the teams stand to win cash prizes amounting to RM3,900 and, for their respective schools, recognition as being among the most innovative schools in Sarawak.

“As in previous years, we anticipate very keen competition between the teams on the day. Supporters from their schools are also more than welcome to come and see their teams in action,” said Dr. Wong.

Meanwhile, Curtin Malaysia’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Professor Jim Mienczakowski said that, aside from the technical aspects, the Curtin Croc Challenge promotes an appreciation of crocodiles as a natural part of Sarawak’s ecosystem and the importance of co-existing with the reptiles in the vast river networks of the state.

He said the university supports the efforts of the state’s wildlife conservation bodies to raise understanding and awareness of the nature of crocodiles and dispel the perception that they are a menace to humans through the challenge and related research at the university.

The Curtin Croc Challenge is one of several inter-school competitions run each year in conjunction with the Curtin Malaysia Carnival. Organised by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science in collaboration with the university’s Office of Research and Development, it is aimed at fostering critical thinking using real-life design case studies and encouraging students to explore the use of simple electronics and basic programming and mobile apps.

The other competitions this year include the ‘Giant Board Game: Snakes & Ladders Warrior’ organised by the university’s Faculty of Business, ‘Curtin Engineering and Science Quiz Competition 2019’ organised by its Faculty of Engineering and Science, and ‘Curtin Spelling Bee 2019’ organised by its Faculty of Humanities.

Those interested to participate in Curtin Croc Challenge 4.9: The App Hack-a-thon can contact Stevenson Tan at 019-885 6076 or by email to stevenson.tan@curtin.edu.my for more information. Students from invited schools can also enquire with their school counsellors. Teams must register before 30 August 2019.

For details of the Curtin Malaysia Carnival 2019, visit its Facebook event page at https://bit.ly/33dd37f.

 

Curtin Croc Challenge 4.9: The App Hack-a-thon, Curtin Malaysia’s unique crocodile-themed app hackathon competition.

 

Curtin Malaysia helping raise understanding and awareness of crocodiles, says Prof. Mienczakowski.

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