FICT students earned Belt and Road Communication Award at SOIEC for their GeoBudget invention

It was the best moment for a team of Computer Science students comprising Lo Joon Hoe, Tan Chee Boon and Tan De Zhian from UTAR Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (FICT) when their names were announced as the winners of the Belt and Road Communication Award at the Eleventh China Students Service Outsourcing Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition (SOIEC).

Held from 25 to 28 August 2020 at Wuxi, China via online platform, the competition was organised by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China and People's Government of Wuxi, China. 

Supervised by FICT lecturers Ts Dr Cheng Wai Khuen and Ts Tan Teik Boon, the team presented their project titled “GeoBudget – Mobile Geo Based Budget Planner and Calculator”. The presentation focused on the Geolocation which refers to the use of location technologies such as GPS to assist the users on where and how to spend their money. During the online presentation, the students explained the benefits of their project and its specialised features such as context scanner and suggestive system.

When asked Dr Cheng to explain about his students’ pitching, Dr Cheng clarified, “The context scanner of the GeoBudget provides an interactive system which allows the users to enter inputs with reducing efforts, while the suggestive system of the product assists the users to perform the right budget spending so that they can meet their financial goals and promote the product before they enter the stores.” He added, “This project is the first budgeting app with geolocation services, image recognition and suggestive system. It allows users to do budgeting with innovative and advanced modules.”

One of the winners, De Zhian enthused, “It was a huge event held in Wuxi, China and it involved many universities there. We could tell it was being taken very seriously and definitely something to look forward to. Unfortunately, we couldn't travel there due to the pandemic. However, the experience of participating in the competition is irreplaceable.” He added, “I was lucky to be chosen by my supervisor, Ts Tan Teik Boon to join the competition. I believe participating in the competition will help me learn things that are not taught in the classroom and most importantly build myself for the real world. I feel very honoured to receive this award alongside my group mates. It is a huge competition and even being a part of it is a privilege to me. We owe it all to Dr Cheng Wai Khuen and Ts Tan Teik Boon for helping and guiding us throughout the preparation and I am personally amazed by how smart and innovative an idea can be with their guidance. This competition was quite different from what we expected. Instead of pitching to the lecturers, the project was pitched to investors - which made us think out of the box and think more realistically when presenting the project.”

Another teammate, Lo said, “It was indeed an eye-opening experience for me to join the competition. It was a good opportunity to gain insights as well as to build new networks with academics from China.” He added, “I was chosen by Ts Tan to join the competition and I was so elated when he chose my final year project ‘GeoBudget’ as the pitching topic in the competition. Prior to the competition, we had a detailed discussion on how to pitch and sell our idea or product to the investors. I feel very proud for receiving this award. Thank you, Dr Cheng and Ts Tan for guiding us throughout the competition. By joining the competition, I learnt a lot, particularly, on how to start up a business, how to manage business resources and how to manage the business.” 

Last but not the least, Chee Boon added, “It is my great honour to take part in this international competition. This was my first time participating in the exchange competition and I was very excited to meet many young and creative teams, and discuss with them the knowledge and concepts of service outsourcing. I also understood that the potential of service outsourcing innovation is infinite and indispensable in cooperation with entrepreneurship.” He said, “I was chosen by my supervisor, Ts Tan. I was worried to take part in the competition at first, but I still wanted to give it a try. After all, such communication opportunities are rare and I can use this opportunity to learn new knowledge and skills. I am honoured to receive this award. Of course, winning with the team is more exciting. Everyone’s effort and persistence did not go in vain. Once again, I would like to thank Ts Tan and Dr Cheng, whose teaching helped to enhance the knowledge and cooperation of our team members. As a student, acquiring knowledge is a ‘routine’ and this competition taught me how to use the concept of innovation to start a business. I also learned about teamwork in this competition. It takes time and effort to work alone, so it's very efficient to have team members to discuss and improve the whole project with you, so that the project can be magnificently improved to a certain extent.”

The Eleventh China Students Service Outsourcing Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition is closely related to the modern service industry, innovation, entrepreneurship and wealth building. It aimed to create a platform of innovation and entrepreneurship for varsity students in the field of service outsourcing by emphasising on Industry-University interaction. It also builds an innovation system for talents training and evaluation.

The winners (from left): De Zhian, Chee Boon and Lo

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