Jee Jia Min and Wilfred Ng, both final-year students reading the SIT-DigiPen Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation degree programme, along with Nicole Yap from NTU, emerged as champions in both the Singapore and Regional rounds of the Schneider Go Green challenge.
Team DPHack, comprising SITizens Jee Jia Min (centre) and Wilfred Ng (right) and NTU undergraduate Nicole Yap (left), at the Singapore round of the competition in July 2023. (Photo: Jee Jia Min)
While most undergraduates relish any time off from schoolwork or internships, Jee Jia Min and Wilfred Ng Jun Hwee have an unconventional interest: participating in hackathons.
Most recently, in July, the final-year students in the SIT-DigiPen Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation joint degree programme put their technical capabilities, pitching skills and ability to work under time pressure to the test in the Schneider Go Green 2023. The global competition invites students to propose innovative ideas that can transform the way we use energy and resources in our cities, buildings, and homes.
At the gruelling six-hour event, the duo, joined by a third team member from Nanyang Technological University, Nicole Yap Shen Hwei, developed an innovative pitch to improve environmental sustainability in the hotel industry, and presented their deck to Schneider Electric’s (SE) judging team in Singapore, including the Cluster President.
Team DPHack with Mr Yoon Young Kim (second from right), Cluster President, Singapore and Brunei, Schneider Electric. (Photo: Schneider Electric)
Team DPHack (a play on DigiPen) eventually came in as winners of the Singapore round, beating five other teams. Subsequently, in September, the group also won first place in the East Asia Regional round, beating seven teams from Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.
“Our training in honing communications skills and the continual practice of presenting our projects to the cohort gave us the edge in communicating our proposal to the judges,” said Wilfred. Students in the SIT-DigiPen programme actively hone presentation skills through regular presentations, such as cross-disciplinary game projects that involve showcasing their work to a broader audience, providing them with valuable real-world communication experience.
Teams were scored not just in technological innovation but also in market research, financials and feasibility.
Their total prize package included $4,500 in cash, internship opportunities with SE and a trip to Paris next year, where they get to meet fellow winners from other parts of the world.
Making Travel More Earth-friendly with Gamification
The idea that propelled Team DPHack to the top was the GreenTravel mobile application that seamlessly integrates with existing hotel apps. It empowers hotel guests to monitor their energy consumption and rise up the energy savings leaderboard to earn rewards like complimentary beverages and laundry service. The app also allows hoteliers to gain insights like average energy usage per room, emissions, and monetary savings across the property.
The students conquered a six-hour challenge, proposing a concept to transform how we use energy and resources in hotels. (Photo: Jee Jia Min)
“The app potentially serves as a room access card and can be used to remotely control the room’s aircon or window blinds, depending on the components linked within the Schneider Electric ecosystem,” Wilfred elaborated.
In addition to presenting a proposal, the team created a mock application that visually demonstrated its workings and showed their vision more vividly to the judges. “We took the effort to create the actual product to show that what we are selling here is achievable,” shared Jia Min.
After winning the Singapore round, Team DPHack was paired up with a mentor Aditya Kumar, Schneider Electric’s Regional Transportation Segment Director for East Asia, who helped them fine-tune their presentation for the Regional finals. The team has also presented the solution to Schneider Electric Ventures, a €1 billion venture capital fund backing bold entrepreneurs driving the energy transition, digital transformation and automation of traditional industries and the built environment, to explore taking it to market.
"Team DPHack stood out for their well-prepared presentation and business model that can bring Schneider Electric closer to the consumers by integrating the existing loyalty programme and install base. In hackathons, many teams have powerful ideas. Eventually, it boils down to the what and how of the business case presentation. I am confident that the skills they showcased while making an impactful presentation pitch with ‘minimal words in a powerful package’ will help them succeed in future hackathons as well. I wish Jia Min, Wilfred and Nicole all the best for their future,” shared Aditya.
A Learning Journey Like No Other
While Jia Min and Wilfred joined the competition to gain experience and meet new people, the exposure was more enriching than they expected.
“We got to pitch a real idea to business executives, so technical skills are not enough. We also needed to analyse the financial aspects of the pitch, which our mentor has helped us with,” said Wilfred.
In addition, the elevation of technical skills is a huge boon. “You don’t know what you don’t know until you are compelled to code something within such a short time!” Jia Min said.
Equally compelling are the networking opportunities, stories that one can share with future interviewers and experiences that can be added to one’s CV, said Wilfred. “Such challenges are a pipeline for companies looking to hire interns or full-time employees. It also gives you real-world experience. These challenges are definitely worthwhile endeavours.”
About Schneider Go Green
Schneider Go Green is an annual competition that invites university students from around the globe to share their ideas for innovations that can help make the world cleaner, more inclusive, and more sustainable. First launched in 2011, the competition is open to bachelor’s or master’s students worldwide studying Business, Engineering, Marketing, or Innovation-related courses. In 2023, more than 19,000 students from over 70 countries registered for the event, and more than 4,000 submitted their sustainable and innovative ideas.