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Why international students should get involved with technology and enterprise

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You can make a global difference using technology, creativity and communication. Source: Shutterstock.com

Have you ever had a pipedream of revolutionising the global market? Or had a brainwave that could improve lives across the world? You might be wondering how you could possibly turn these dreams into a reality – but the students taking part in the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2018 are innovatively using technology to make a real global change.

Imagine creating an app that can identify your risk of disease simply from a picture of your fingernail. Imagine building an online platform for students to ask questions during lectures anonymously. Imagine creating drone technology that can help farmers identify crop diseases and safely release pesticides.

For the students featured at this week’s Microsoft Imagine Cup APAC regional finals in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this is not only what they imagined, but what they achieved.

Months of hard work, hours of preparation and a healthy dose of ambition brought 15 student teams from across Asia to the finals. At the competition, students demonstrated what can be accomplished when aspiration, innovation and technology come together to solve societal problems.

Michael Teoh, one of the judging panel, a previous winner of the Imagine Cup and International Business graduate, wants to tell students: “Imagine Cup taught me it doesn’t matter what I’m studying, I can succeed in making a change as long as I have good ideas, a good team and encouraging mentors around me.

“I’d tell students don’t limit yourself by not getting involved with tech. You don’t need to be an expert; you just need an open mindset to meet people and find solutions to societal issues.”

Students taking part in the cup proved their education provides a springboard to achieve their goals, rather than limiting them to one career.

Team Onyx, creators of the Bi-Onyx app which uses Artificial Intelligence to identify the risk of disease through a fingernail, explained the inspiration for their product grew from wanting to help people.

“We study business and none of us are healthcare students, but we have used our entrepreneurialism and creativity to develop an app that will help identify diseases early so that effective treatment can be given,” Romie Rey S. Santiago, a member of Team Onyx from the Philippines, told Study International during the regional finals.

“We were inspired by the simple desire to help improve people’s lives. The death rate in the Philippines and the world is so much higher than it needs to be because of unidentified diseases. We believe Bi-Onyx can help raise health awareness and ensure people receive the treatment they need before diseases become fatal.”

Team Onxy giving their pitch during the Imagine Cup APAC Regional Finals 2018. Source: Imagine Cup

If you’re reading this thinking ‘but I could never make such an amazing product’, Team Beehive Drones from Indonesia said something that might change your mind.

The team has used each other’s individual strengths from filmmaking, communication and technological know-how to design an app that dispatches water and pesticide spraying drones to farmers.

“You have to work out what your skills are and stay true to this. We all have different strengths in the team and this is how we make sure we can design, build, market and present our technology,” Anindita Pradana Suteja, Communications and Business student at the University of Manchester, told Study International.

“We all have our unique potential, and we have utilised our different talents to think outside the box, develop the innovative tech and create engaging media to help market our product,” added Albertus Gian, Beehive Drones CEO.

Dave Miller, Microsoft’s general manager of commercial software engineering in APAC, explained during the event: “The Imagine Programme gives students the resources, confidence and platform to use technology to make societal changes. It acts as a springboard to help them go on to bigger and better things.”

Team Beehive Drones added that studying abroad gave them the international perspective needed for them to realise technology can help reduce poverty and hardship among Indonesia’s farming community.

“I think using your privilege to study internationally to help your home country is not only good but a must,” said Suteja. “Studying abroad gives you a much broader perspective on issues back home and we can use our skills and creativity to improve the world around us.”

“Every citizen has a responsibility to change the world for the better, and as students, we have the opportunity to run with this opportunity,” said Milan Thapa from Team Sochware, representing Nepal.

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