Radha Krishna is only halfway through the first year of the BSc Computer Science (Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence) University of London programme at the Singapore Institute of Management and has already managed to reach the finals for two of the biggest coding events in Singapore. He shares with us his experiences and takeaways.
I like to constantly experiment and learn new programming frameworks, patterns and technologies. My motivation for participating in coding competitions comes from my desire to unleash my creative side without restrictions on the type of technologies and architectures. I found competition opportunities via regular email updates from SIM’s Career Connect.
The Singapore Airlines (SIA) AppChallenge 2022 was my first challenge event. I went solo under the alias AI Minds, for Artificial intelligence is my forte. My objective was to personalize travel recommendations and ancillary services to customers during the flight booking process.
It was no walk in the park debugging and writing code as a one-man team. I built and deployed machine learning models and configured cloud resources as part of my solution. I stayed strong and motivated throughout the intensive process and was ultimately able to build an AI prototype to produce real-time recommendations.
I rejoiced when SIA relayed the news that I had made it to the top 11 out of 110 teams participating from all over the world! I was even invited to give a pitch to senior SIA management for the finals.
Heading into the grand finals located at KrisLab (Singapore Airline’s digital innovation lab), I competed with other finalists from institutions such as NUS and NTU. I enjoyed listening to and watching all the teams. It was a valuable learning opportunity since each team's prototype was entirely different and I learned their perspective on various technical choices and decisions.
Undergoing the evaluation by the panel of judges and exposure to various pitching and presentation styles, I learned how I could improve on my communication skills and technical know-how.
I also took the opportunity to network with some of the guests from Amazon Web Services and personnel from other companies who were sponsoring the event. I received constructive feedback on my solution after the pitch and made friends with competitors.
The following month, I participated in the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) Code Sprint 2022. I was amongst 40 teams. My target this time was the reduction of PSA Singapore’s Scope 3 emissions contributed by hauliers, under the theme Supply Chain Digitization and Decarbonization.
PSA Code Sprint 2022 was a hackathon which lasted 48 hours. It was a race against time as I attempted to create a prototype program, prioritize my tasks and manage my time carefully.
Establishing a clear plan on how the backend code should function and what the tools, libraries and resources I will be using enabled me to complete my task at a faster speed. Some of the technologies I utilized were TensorFlow for deep learning models, IoT and cloud computing. I stayed persistent when my application crashed or when my REST APIs were not functioning correctly. I managed to troubleshoot these issues and compile my app in the nick of time.
Even though I was the only team participating solo, I was once again invited to the finals to give a pitch to PSA’s panel of judges. I finished top 8 and won a consolation prize of SGD750! I felt that was a significant improvement from my performance at SIA AppChallenge.
I am incredibly grateful for SIA and PSA for hosting these events as I’ve become a better developer and coder through participation. I am also now a more confident individual with improved pitching skills.
To conclude, it was fun applying the concepts in my academic modules in these competitions. Putting theory into practice allowed me to appreciate the knowledge I’ve been taught.
To my peers aspiring to join competitions, do not be discouraged when facing teams from top universities. Be resourceful and have faith in yourself. With the right mindset and preparation, you might just be the next top finalist!