The Cyber Youth Collective (CYC), a division of Singapore’s largest youth-in-tech movement, Cyber Youth Singapore (CYS), organised a cybersecurity themed hackathon for 80 youths, from the 5th to 10th of September 2022. The pitch day and closing ceremony was held on 10th September with Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth & Trade and Industry, as the ceremony’s Guest-of-Honour.
The hackathon is organised with a unique concept modality, reshaping the way hackathons are usually executed. 3 industry partners recognised the value this initiative brings and have kindly sponsored this event.
YouthxHack was created to empower youths to conceptualise and innovate new digital solutions to current problem statements. Its secondary objective is to also bring the tech industry and youths together to catalyse talent development. The first edition of YouthxHack will be held in 2022 and will feature a cybersecurity theme. Future editions will be held annually and will feature different tech themes.
YouthxHack 2022 saw over 80 youths across polytechnics, ITEs, junior colleges and universities coming together to address problem statements regarding “Automation in Cybersecurity”. Participants competed in teams of 4 to 5 youths and each sponsor selected 1 team each to further develop and incubate the projects. These 3 winning teams also won attractive prizes, which included an overseas exchange (flight and accommodation covered).
The CYC wanted to ensure that our initiatives are unique and value creating to the ecosystem at large, hence, several never-seen-before features are adopted in the YouthxHack programme concept. YouthxHack 2022 was directed by 2 polytechnic year 3 students, Chong Hong Yau and Winston Seow, both from Singapore Polytechnic.
Unique Feature #1 : No “Shark Tank” Style Pitching
Traditional hackathons usually conclude with a pitch/judging day where participants will present their pitch and prototype to a panel of judges in a popular “shark tank” style arrangement. This arrangement typically results in a very rehearsed and rigid pitching session, without any means for judges to assess participants genuinely. Hence, the programme team decided to restructure the pitching session.
For YouthxHack 2022, all participating groups will set up their own booths and each sponsor will visit them in a decentralised mode. This way, interactions between sponsors and participants will become less scripted and uncomfortable, where sponsors are able to interact with participants informally. On this feature, YouthxHack Programme Director, Mr Chong Hong Yau, said, “Having this feature in lieu of a short pitch will create a more enjoyable atmosphere during the hackathon. Without the need to worry about cramming everything into a 15-minute pitch, teams are encouraged to strategise innovative means of presenting their solutions for a longer period of time.”
Unique Feature #2 : No Ordinal Ranking of Winners
Traditional hackathons also usually feature ranked winners decided by a central judging panel. Such arrangements limit the flexibility of arrangements among sponsors. Hence, based on the judging arrangement described above, there will be no ordinal ranking of participants for YouthxHack. Instead, each sponsor will choose and crown their own champion. Should 2 sponsors choose the same team, the team will be given the choice to choose the sponsor. In doing this, we increase the immediate supply of talents available to sponsors compared to the ordinal ranking model. This model also indirectly empowers participants while ensuring fair competition even among sponsors.
YouthxHack Programme Director, Mr Winston Seow, said, “By having this different style of judging, sponsors and teams are given a wider room to both play fairly and achieve high results. Teams are empowered to choose their preferred sponsors, while sponsors are given the choice of their unique sponsor champion.”
Further Engagement and Development of Promising Projects and Participants
While ensuring the developed initiative is effective in allowing youths to ideate and innovate, the CYC also ensures that the nurturing and development of talent happens beyond the programme. Through collaborations with partners such as ST Engineering, participants will get a chance to receive rewards, incentives and prizes awarded to promising projects, to enable professional growth of participants beyond YouthxHack.
Mr. Goh Eng Choon, President of Cyber at ST Engineering, said, “In the dynamic cyber world, we see the importance of imparting real-world cybersecurity competencies to our future cyber defenders. The collaboration with Cyber Youth Singapore provides a platform where we can efficiently engage more young cybersecurity enthusiasts. In line with our vision to build up cybersecurity talent in Singapore, YouthxHack cultivates a proactive mindset in participants and provides support to help them push the boundaries of cyber technology. This is where our expertise comes in to guide and provide insights into how their solutions can be implemented in real-life scenarios.”
CYS Summit 2022 (CYSummit’22)
During the YouthxHack 2022 closing ceremony, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth & Trade and Industry, Mr Alvin Tan, announced that CYS will be organising Singapore’s largest youth-in-tech conference (CYSummit 2022) in December. The conference will feature 3 days of curated activities aimed at connecting both the industry and youths together to facilitate knowledge exchange, skill and career development. The summit also serves as a platform for CYS to advocate and campaign for causes and issues deemed important to the youth-in-tech movement. These causes include, diversity & inclusion, mental health & wellness, digital literacy & awareness. The summit is free of charge and is only open to youths in Singapore (aged 35 years and below).
Chief Executive (Designate) of the CYS Cyber Youth Collective Division, Mr Aaron Ang said, “I am honoured to have been part of the team behind YouthxHack 2022. This initiative is a sneak peek of the many activities and initiatives that CYS has lined up for youths in Singapore. I am very excited about the CYSummit in December, where we will celebrate youth and technology in Singapore. I urge all youths to keep a lookout on our social media platforms and join us for CYSummit 2022!”