Lifelong Learning is Key to Success


A never-say-die attitude and a growth mindset. To Marvin Ho, valedictorian of Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) Electrical Power Engineering (EPE)’s Class of 2021, those qualities helped him clinch the Best Programmer Award in his cohort for the annual buggy project.


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Marvin Ho delivering the valedictorian address earlier this year. Photo credit: Marvin Ho

The buggy project is a flagship annual project of the SIT EPE programme that could be considered a rite of passage for all second-year EPE students.

The Challenge

Students are split up into teams and the objective is for each team’s buggy to successfully navigate through a wired track within a stipulated time, without going off-course. Each team had to build a circuitry and control system for the buggy, so it could travel around an alternating current (AC) wired track. The buggy must ‘sense’ the AC in order for it to decide its path and movement.

Due to the collaborative nature of the project, students were tested on the relevant soft skills such as teamwork, in conjunction with the technical skills, and knowledge they learnt from the classroom.

Professor Sivaneasan Bala Krishnan, project advisor for The Buggy Project explains, “The project involves teamwork and allows for the development of other useful skills such as creative problem solving, project management, budgeting, and procurement planning.”

As the Buggy Project was of significance to all EPE students, Marvin faced fierce competition. The sheer number of talented teams meant it was no easy feat for him to figure out how to outrace the rest. Being the team in-charge for the software of the track that follows the buggy, Marvin had to think out of the box to figure out how to enhance his project.

This led him to implement a Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) controller, a control loop mechanism that is widely used in industrial control systems to employ feedback. He also implemented a reverse functionality to help the buggy swiftly get back on course, in the event it steered off track.

Implementing these, especially the PID controller, was anything but a walk in the park. He had to implement it in C language, something he had never done before. As a result, Marvin faced multiple technical difficulties, which he worked doubly hard to resolve by researching external resources extensively.

Adopting a Growth Mindset

His hard work paid off as his implementations were key in not only getting his buggy to complete the race faster, but also in making his project stand out from the rest, scoring him the Best Programmer Award in his cohort.

The experience made him realise the importance of adopting a growth mindset in order to achieve success. He credits SIT for creating a culture that enables students like him to keep challenging and improving themselves. Thankfully, Marvin was also surrounded by supportive teammates and fellow competitors who always had each other’s backs. The camaraderie kept him going.

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Marvin and his teammates posing with their buggy car. Photo credit: Marvin Ho

“My teammates and I pushed each other out of our comfort zones, achieving what we thought was never possible,” said Marvin.

He added, “Other teams were friendly and helpful in giving advice. I felt that everyone wanted every team to succeed and it was extremely encouraging.”

Continuing his Learning Journey in the Real World

As it turns out, the buggy project played a fundamental role in contributing to his drive to succeed in the project and his studies. And now, Marvin’s drive to succeed has gone beyond the boundaries of his studies.

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Marvin is now a proud graduate of SIT who has since gone on to pursue greater things in life. Photo credit: Marvin Ho

Marvin is currently a net software engineer at Avensys Consulting. He treasures this opportunity by working hard, honing his skills, and learning as much as possible. He hopes that one day, he will get to work at his dream company, Microsoft. He asserts that SIT has guided him in his journey, equipping him with the relevant skill sets for the working world and providing him with a motto to live by.

His mantra is one that most, if not all SITizens would be familiar with – being able to learn, unlearn and relearn. For Marvin, this trait of the SIT-DNA is one that resonates with him, and one that he keeps close to his heart to this day, as he continues in his journey to reach greater heights.

Article contributed by Brenda Teo Sze Ning, Year 3, Criminology and Security

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