Published on 12 Mar 2021

Two teams of NTU EEE students take part in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2021

NTU EEE was well-represented with their recent participation in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2021 with two teams of students from the school being selected for the World Finals of the competition. A total of four teams from NTU EEE participated in the Semi-Finals and two of the teams have been selected to proceed to the next round as the World Finalists.


The first team is Team Spiffeng, comprising of 4 massively talented individuals from different industries and walks of life. April Khong Ting Feng is the one leading Team Spiffeng, and she is an Information Engineering and Media (IEM yr 4) student. She has been in the start-up scene for the past 6 years and has strong business acumen and technical skills to complement her diverse skill set. Jovan Hermawan is a fellow IEM student who is currently in year 2 and has expertise in Technology and Machine Learning. He has conducted workshops on machine learning at his university and external companies. Edward Hadi Widjaja is a year 3 Agronomy student at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. He has strong industry knowledge in quality control and product development and is currently a student ambassador of one of our partners, Max Indonesia. Daris Dzakwan Hoesian graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics in December of 2020 from NTU School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. He is a Market Research Assistant as well as Head of Growth and Business Development. He has strong quantitative and data analytics skills. Both he and April met in Korea during their Summer School exchange. After connecting over their shared interests in entrepreneurship and investing, they decided to form Team Spiffeng to compete in the Microsoft Imagine Cup, along with Jovan and Edward. They signed up their team for the Microsoft Imagine Cup so that they could be a part of the diverse community of student innovators, being inspired by the creative ideas of past winners, and wanted to do their part to contribute to and improve the lives of others in our community.


Their idea is to allow anyone to be able to grow highly nutritious vegetables for consumption in advance. They are solving food insecurity and food fraud, which are major problems experienced by many vulnerable segments of our society. Their prototype is an IOT Hydroponics Vending Machine set in places with high human traffic. Users can “rent” a Growth Box and grow, monitor, and harvest their plants all via their phone app, and connect in the community.


The second team is named Team SafeTandem, comprising Ian Ng Cheong Sian (IEM Year 4) and Celia Claresta Chandra (EEE Year 4). Their idea was to solve bicycle-related accident problems by creating SafeTandem. SafeTandem is a mobile solution that promotes safe travel for cyclists and everyone else. It analyses real-time video to detect possible incidents and increase spatial awareness through visual, audio, and haptic alerts. On the rare occasion that an accident occurs, SafeTandem also serves as a dashcam video recorder to provide evidence. While searching for projects to work on their FYP, they realized that they could kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, finish their FYP and secondly, take part in an international competition. Hence they decided to develop a solution that solves an existing problem and makes a difference. Microsoft Imagine Cup is a channel for them to test their solution by simply submitting their project as a challenge submission.


Both teams were mentored by Dr Wesley Tan, Senior Lecturer at NTU EEE who was highly supportive of them. He was extremely patient and guided them throughout this whole project, never failing to motivate and encourage them along the way. Team Spiffeng also received guidance from mentors from ideasinc.veni, NTU's Venture Building programme under the enhanced Startup SG Founders Programme. Team Spiffeng's leader, April was a part of this 3 month programme, where she learnt and applied many skills and knowledge from this programme in the team's business proposal and pitch to potential investors and Microsoft judges. Besides help from NTU, they also received guidance from their mentor in Germany, where Edward's previous manager from ECF GmbH, Carsten Mehl, gave them great insight and advice. The team is also hugely grateful to Green Valley Farm's founder Dr Oh Kian Chye, who provided them with resources and domain expert advice.


There were hundreds of teams from over 60 countries who submitted their projects for the chance to compete in the Microsoft Imagine Cup. The teams were impressed by the sheer creativity and use of technology the other teams had leveraged to deliver impressive results and help the community in one way or another. The other teams in the Earth Category were, Team Intelligent Hives from Poland, Team Green Guru from the United States, Team ProTag from New Zealand, Team SimplyLCA from Germany, and Team Virtual Radiologist, from Nepal. Team Spiffeng and Team SafeTandem were two of the 38 teams worldwide that were selected to advance to the World Finals.


Being from NTU EEE, April and Jovan were key in building the main architecture of the solution. Their multi-disciplinary education in IEM allowed them to leverage both their strong technical and communication skills, to be able to develop a highly innovative solution that appeals to the masses. For April, having been part of many case competitions and hackathons that helped with her public speaking and pitching skills. For Ian and Celia from Team SafeTandem, the EEE education allowed them to understand the possible extent of their solution and think critically. In addition, it also provided them with fundamental theories on how they can utilize software and hardware in their solution.