This national level program focused on students from Bottom Forty (B40) Group and was organized by UTM Centre for Student Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (UTM XCITE) with U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur being the main sponsor. Other sponsors include MyMaker IoT Lab@Cyberjaya (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) and Cytron Technologies Sdn. Bhd, Penang. The duration of this program was from December 2018 to May 2019 (6 months).

The program involves 7 states namely Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Johor, which were coordinated and organized by university partners namely UMS, UNIMAS, UMK, USM, UniMAP and UTM respectively. This program was open to local undergraduate students from all Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) as mentors and local B40 secondary school students as participant throughout Malaysia. This program has lured active involvement of volunteers among university students where they were actively involved in organizing a series of programs such as boot camps, mentoring as project advisors and also follow through their juniors’ innovative project in their assigned Secondary Schools.

States and universities involved in this program.

The objectives of the program were to:

  1. Provide opportunities to under privileged student (B40 Group) in Science, Technologies, Engineering, Arts – Design, & Mathematic (STEAM).
  2. Develop life-long skills such as innovative problem-solving, Design Thinking, Resilience, Persistence, Collaboration and Pitching.
  3. Inspire Continuous Learning through systematic exposure to open-source software or hardware.

Student were required to form a group of 3 members and choose one of these themes: Food & Agriculture, Automotive & Mobility, Healthcare & Wellness care, Poverty & Hunger, Heavy Equipment & Manufacturing, Climate & Sustainability.

In total 71 teams submitted their proposal through the website ( Only thirty (30) teams were invited to attend YMC@AC19 Boot Camp for each state. In total, there were one hundred eighty-nine (207) B40 secondary students and 69 teachers involved in YMC@AC19. The participants came from various schools in Malaysia. Johor had the highest number of submitted proposal which was twenty four (24). At the state level competition, there were five (5) teams competing.

However, only the top two (2) teams from five (5) groups in each state were selected and moved on to the National Level YMC@AC19. In total, there were ninety (90) B40 secondary school students, 30 teachers and 30 mentors from various public institute higher learning competed at each state level competition. At the national level competition, two (2) team from each state which summed up to twelve (12) team finalist competed.

List of finalist for the National Level Competition

The panels of judges for the competition comprised of experienced academic and industry practitioner; Dr. Bugs Tan (Mastek Oil Tools Sdn Bhd), Dr. Aini Suzana Binti Ariffin (UTM) and Mr. Shahril Ahmad (MTDC). The judging criteria used during the competition were : development process explanation; element of creativity; functionality; attractiveness; sustainability; cost effectiveness; commercial potentials; presentation and knowledge of participants.

Dr. Bugs Tan (Mastek Oil Tools Sdn Bhd)

Dr. Aini Suzana Binti Ariffin (UTM)

Mr. Shahril Ahmad (MTDC)







Recruitment of mentors were selected by the liaison officer from our partner universities. The mentor volunteers were selected through interview sessions. There are several criteria which were used as the assessment during the interview session comprising of the potential volunteers’ knowledge, leadership and commitment. The Training the Trainers (TTT) sessions were guided by experienced speakers and facilitators. The session consisted of 2 days training which involved three (3) topics. On the 1st day the NSAR (Needs, Solution, Advantage & Rival) clinic and Design Thinking session were held. Whereas, the 2nd day is dedicated for the Arduino Crash Course Workshop.


Training the Trainers Session (TTT)

Then the boot camps were organized by partner universities together with those trained mentors. The boot camps have immensely benefitted the secondary school students from the selected teams by offering them a hands-on experience on the fundamental components before developing their ideas or products. The boot camps begin the workshop with NSAR, as NSAR is simpler and easier to be comprehend by secondary school students. It is expected that students should achieved a solid idea at the end of NSAR session. Then to proceed with the Design Thinking process, the student are required to explore and analyze the 5 element (empathize, define, ideate, prototype & test) in design thinking for their product / ideas. Finally, students will then reiterate their work from NSAR, design thinking and Learning from Arduino Course with the purpose to pitch their products/services to the audiences.

The students were

seen to be immerse in the design thinking process during the Design Thinking session, discussing their product issues and brainstorming the solutions accordingly. They were seen glued to their computer screens or smart phones, searching for information and tips highlighted by the speakers. The students were proactive and called for the help of mentors whenever they were stuck or face difficulties.
As the students’ understanding on the project outlook is a learning process, the discussions and interactions between students, speakers and mentors were continuous and not restricted only during boot camp or clinic sessions, but also during project planning. Overall, the boot camps, have facilitated and eased the student in strengthening their innovative ideas and increased their confidence leading to the pitching competition.

To conclude,

majority of the participants had given a positive feedback on Young Maker Challenge@American Corner 2019. However, there are still room for improvements in terms of preparation and how the competition should be conducted. But in overall, it was an enjoyable program which have attracted participants from many important entities such as the universities, government and ministries, agencies, industry players, and learning institutions. More collaboration between Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is expected in the near future.