20 April 2015 – First year Computer Science student Quek Yang Sheng was awarded the Singapore Computer Society’s 2015 IT Youth of the Year award at the annual IT Leader Awards, in early March.
The Awards were established in 1997 to acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of individuals who have made their mark in Singapore’s Infocomm & Media (ICM) landscape.
Yang Sheng began working full-time as a Technical Support Analyst at StarHub after he completed National Service. His performance in secondary school and ITE had been average but his supervisor at StarHub encouraged him to continue his education. Realising that his academic qualifications at the time would limit his career progression, he enrolled in Temasek Polytechnic. That was when he undertook the projects that would eventually lead to his IT Youth of the Year award.
“During my internship with an Education Technology startup (Rockmoon Pte Ltd), I was given a chance to work on a classroom instant chat messenger. Together with a friend, we were tasked to create an Android app … to facilitate discussion and collaboration between teachers and students. The app has allowed researchers to test out the feasibility of [using] an instant messenger for educational purposes,” explained Yang Sheng.
Besides the prescribed curriculum, he delved into additional projects in his community. “It was during my internship that I realised how much technology can [impact] the world we live in. [I] had a bit of free time after work so I decided to make myself useful. Gathered a bunch of friends, discussed some ideas and started an IT workshop for the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC). The workshop taught CDAC youth beneficiaries the basics of creating Android apps without any coding through the use of an open source software, App Inventor. The rationale behind the workshop was to help the youth discover their talent in making mobile apps,” he said. He and his team won the Metropolitan YMCA Singapore Outstanding Achievement Award for their work. Yang Sheng was also a Gold Medallist at his graduation, finishing at the top of his cohort with a Diploma in Mobile and Network Services.
He is currently still working on one of the community projects he began before he entered NUS. Describing his experience in contributing his IT skills and knowledge to the community, he says, “[The] North East Community Development Council (NECDC) was looking for some ideas to solve a problem. We found out that their social workers were still flipping through papers and files during their house-to-house assessment. I realised that there is much that can be improved, especially in the way self-help schemes are administered. I remember when I was younger, my family was not well to do – we wanted to apply for financial help but there were so many channels to go through that we gave up. I am certain we are not the only ones with this experience. Today, there are some things that are still being done the same old fashioned way. There are over 100 different schemes from different ministries and statutory boards but there isn’t a streamlined process to submit applications. No matter the number of help schemes available, I think the effectiveness of the schemes ultimately [depend] on how many people they reach. Together with two other members, we created an Android app that aggregates all the [varying] schemes into a single [mobile] app. The app allows anyone to filter schemes based on criteria (household income, etc) to get a list of eligible schemes for their perusal. Perhaps now with our vision of building a SmartNation, we will see good changes in the years to come.”
Since entering NUS, Yang Sheng has been busier than usual but still tries to run, hang out with his friends, sing, play the guitar and do the things any other university student would do, when he has the time.