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CULTIVATING CROSS-FIELD EXCELLENCE

September 20, 2023 | Campus News

"Can I learn web development and data science side by side?" This question is relevant for tech enthusiasts who are considering their degree studies. According to Forbes Advisor, data science and web development are the fastest-growing tech careers from 2021 to 2031, with growth rates of 36% and 30%, respectively.[1]

Undertaking cross-field studies is indeed possible when students embrace a proactive learning mindset and avoid confining themselves to a single field. Successfully integrating web development and data science requires a grasp of both domains. When executed effectively, cross-field studies can yield novel insights, enhanced user experiences, and innovative solutions.

The triumph of proactive cross-field learning beyond the existing curriculum is exemplified by Team John Pizza. Comprising three graduating Computer Science students from Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU), with two of them specialising in Data Analytics, this team not only clinched the championship at Hacktitude Malaysia 2023 but also fully prepared to embark on their professional careers.

Hacktitude Malaysia 2023 was an inter-university virtual hackathon aimed at equipping undergraduates with industry-ready skills prior to graduation. Participants were confronted with technical challenges that compelled them to create "production-grade" code. In a given timeframe, contestants were tasked with implementing 16 sets of features and fixing bugs.

Hoh Shen Yien, the team leader pursuing a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science with a specialisation in Data Analytics, remarked, "Despite the competition's focus on Backend Development, we adeptly bridged the gap to embrace new challenges." Hoh's teammates included his coursemate Khor Zhen Win, and Woon Eusean who is pursuing a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science.

While Computer Science encompasses a broad spectrum, Data Analytics, a subset of Data Science, focuses on examining data sets to draw conclusions about the information they contain. It involves various techniques such as data cleaning, data transformation, statistical analysis, and data visualisation to extract meaningful insights from data.

These fields significantly diverge from Backend Development, also known as server-side development, responsible for managing the logic and operations that happen on the server, including processing data, interacting with databases, handling requests from clients (like web browsers or mobile apps), and delivering the appropriate responses.

The competition spanned from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. on August 5th, concluding with an award ceremony on August 6th. The team emphasised that the features and bugs mirrored real-world software engineering tasks. Challenges centred on implementing backend functionalities in an Express.js server, encompassing intricate SQL queries and backend service construction.

Hoh stated, "Our team was the sole group to conquer all challenges, implementing features and fixing bugs within the 9-hour timeframe." The competition was participated by over 100 undergraduates from various Malaysian institutions.

Elaborating further, Hoh noted, "Our web development knowledge, particularly backend development, proved to be the most critical skill. Fortunately, all three of us possessed extensive web development expertise from internships and our final year projects."

Hacktitude Malaysia 2023 was orchestrated by 99x, a global leader in agile product engineering and technology innovation, headquartered in Norway with offices in Oslo and Colombo, Sri Lanka. The team received mentorship from Associate Professor Dr. Imran Medi from APU's School of Computing (SoC), who acted as an academic supervisor throughout the process.

As champions, Team John Pizza received RM6,500 in prize money and certificates in recognition of their remarkable achievement.

Recognising the compelling professional skills and knowledge exhibited by the graduating students from the School, Associate Professor Dr. Tan Chin Ike, the Head of SoC, stated, "Team John Pizza's triumph underscores how the integration of industry-centric content and practice within the programme plays a pivotal role in equipping our young talents with the practical skills, knowledge, and mindset needed to thrive in the real-world workforce. This approach bridges the gap between theoretical learning and practical real-world industry application, providing the students with the confidence and soft-skill acumen to thrive."

[1] https://www.forbes.com/advisor/education/fastest-growing-jobs/

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