Every year, Microsoft invites students to participate in their well-known Imagine Cup competition. The International competition serves as a platform for students around the world to ignite their passion and innovation by using cutting-edge technologies while developing valuable skills as part of the journey.
This year’s all-digital competition saw thousands of teams developing projects in four categories that aligned with their passions: Earth, Education, Healthcare, or Lifestyle and for the first time ever, teams had the option of submitting their project to the Epic Challenge as an early step in their competition journey. The Epic Challenge was an opportunity for teams to receive preliminary feedback on their ideas from professional judges and have the chance to win a spot to directly advance to the World Finals.
Team HireUsPls is a name playfully coined by the student duo, Lee Jia Wei (IEM, year 4) and Lim Wei Jia, Vanessa (IEM, year 4). The duo from School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering joined this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup Epic Challenge together with student innovators from around the world to bring their boldest tech ideas to life. To enter the challenge, they submitted a 3-minute pitch and proposal for a technology solution in one of the 2022 Imagine Cup’s competition categories, Education with their project named ‘KodeFlo’. Team HireUsPls was the only team from the Asia region that was in the top 3 winning teams. As one of the winning teams in the Epic Challenge, the team took home USD1,000 to continue developing their project and advanced to the Imagine Cup World Finals in May 2022!
The Inspiration Behind KodeFlo
KodeFlo is a web-based game application that uses Flow-Based Programming to teach programming concepts to children aged 10-14 years old.
When asked about the inspiration behind their project, the student duo stated that based on their research, “existing game applications that teach programming to children lack focus in teaching collaboration and essential skills such as efficient program. Popular coding apps (where players control an avatar’s movement through programming to complete a game level) do not promote collaboration and only aim to deliver programming concepts and do not target essential skills such as efficient programming. These skills are crucial in the industry as they help software engineers produce efficient programs that use limited resources more effectively.”
“It is also crucial for the game to be more inclusive and attract more girls to play the game. Furthermore, we also found that Flow-Based Programming could be a better alternative to Block-Based Programming that is commonly used in existing applications.” The team noted.
To address the gaps mentioned, the duo plan to develop KodeFlo with an engaging storyline, that is designed for children aged 10-14 years old. Programming concepts will be taught using flow-based visual programming. Through deliberate game design, this application will promote essential soft skills namely developing efficient program, collaboration, planning and problem-solving skills.
(A screengrab of KodeFlo)
We first heard of the competition from Professor Wesley when he mentioned that we could participate in the competition with our FYP project. We felt that this could be a great learning opportunity for us as we would be exposed to learning from teams all around the globe.
Overall, joining the Imagine Cup Epic Challenge was a great experience as we got to challenge ourselves and learn from the other student innovators. Equipped with programming and designing skills from our IEM course, we were able to create something fulfilling and innovative. The DIP and IDP modules also aided us in the ideation and report stage.
It also helps that Microsoft provide resources to guide the participants in preparing for the challenge. Even though it is not easy to come up with good ideas and consult subject matter experts due to our commitment in school, it is nevertheless a fulfilling experience for us.
We would like to show our appreciation to Dr Wesley Tan who has mentored and guided us through this competition and helped us connect with the past winners to learn more about the competition. We would also like to thank CoE and EEE for their continuous support as well as NIE and AEU for their guidance and advice in developing our ideas.