Geekout 2023: Shaping future tech leaders on multiple levels
Every year, our Technology Associates (TAPpers) of GovTech’s Technology Associate Programme organise GeekOut – a boot camp that engages future tech talent from tertiary institutions.
2023’s event was held on 12-16 June and saw 65 participants split into 10 groups to engage in an intense, 5-day event culminating in a hackathon.
A special mission for TAPers
While students are definitely the highlight of these events, the initiative also allows graduating members TAPpers to sharpen their leadership skills.
How? In many ways, GeekOut is a special mission for our ‘graduating’ TAPpers as they complete their two-year development programme.
These TAPpers have been coached over two years to become domain experts and potential tech leaders of tomorrow. GeekOut provides them with a unique platform to exercise their leadership and mentorship skills. By guiding the participants through the boot camp, they not only share their specialized knowledge but also inspire the next generation of tech enthusiasts in Singapore.
At the same time, GeekOut also allows us to identify new, budding tech talent who might be ideal candidates for our Smart Nation Scholarships and internship programmes.
How else is Geekout different from your regular ol’ bootcamp? Unlike standard boot camps, participants undergo a pre-event skill assessment, ensuring a customised educational experience. The five-day event includes diverse learning opportunities, from ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions to a final hackathon.
This allows GeekOut to offer a unique window into public-sector tech careers.
Geekout 2023: A Word with the Winning Team This year’s hackathon problem statement was to ideate or develop smart city solutions to elevate citizens’ quality of life and promote sustainability.
We spoke to Tian Xiang Cheng, from the winning team, currently a student at Raffles Institution. Here’s what he had to say about the event and his experience.
Q: What drew you to GeekOut in the first place? How did you first hear about it and decide that you want to join?
I first heard about GeekOut from my school, at that time my friend and I were both considering furthering our studies in the tech domain, and wanted to experience firsthand what it was like, hence we signed up together.
Personally, I was enraptured by the expansive domains covered by a relatively new agency like GovTech and wanted to meet experienced people with the same passion in tech.
Q: Was it nerve-wracking to be working on a tight deadline? How did you cope with the pressure and deliver a solution in the end?
Time was indeed tight, and we were struggling to finish a functioning prototype. We made decisive cuts and were able to deliver the crux of our project and answer to the problem statement effectively.
Q: What was it like to be a bunch of strangers who had to quickly find a way to work together as a team?
I am incredibly grateful to have a team that is both supportive and eager to get down to work. We were able to connect quickly over the earlier workshops and lectures, hence communication and designation of tasks later on was a breeze. My fondest memory is of all 6 of us huddled in a group call till midnight the day before submission, zealously designing our website and slides.
Q: How did the mentors help you in developing your solution?
Big shout-out to our mentor Sean for steering us in the right direction and keeping discussions on track. His tips to generate and narrow down ideas were vital in picking the best topic.
Beyond his guidance in the project, his patience and congeniality were heartwarming. He clarified many doubts and shared a multitude of crucial learning resources. I was especially moved when he went out of his way to create handcrafted diagrams explaining Git to us cleverly and concisely.
Q: What inspired you to come up with your idea?
Prior to GeekOut, I was involved in a project on vision tests, especially for the growing number of elderly.
(My teammate) Yu Heng also shared with us his ongoing pose-detection project, which I thought could be applied to mobility tests. Hence, given the range of online health tests and our familiarity with them, it all came together to form our solution, a one-stop self-administered health screening app.
Q: Any plans to take your hackathon idea further?
Really try to publish it as an app/website? I would love to! Living with my grandparents, I can understand the hassle of frequenting clinics for a multitude of checkups.
An advanced health screening app would lighten the load on healthcare infrastructure and further encourage early screening and detection for easier treatment.
This would nicely complement the government’s new Age-Well SG programme and align with the MOH’s increased focus on preventative care, as announced in this year’s National Day Rally.
Q: What is your biggest takeaway from the GeekOut camp?
The biggest lesson to myself is to broaden my horizons and connect with my peers. The solutions presented by the other teams were beautifully done and really blew me away. I was thoroughly impressed by the group that created an application allowing users to interact with any online game through hand gestures.
There are so many people to learn from and ideas to discover, I will strive to uncover every one of them!
Q: Are you inspired to pursue a tech career in the public sector?
After the spicy fireside chat at GovTech, a tech career in the public sector is a very real and appealing possibility. I am impressed by the scope of technical coverage in the sector and heartened to hear people at Govtech share how meaningful their work is to them and the community. Of course, we are also given assurance with regard to career progression and relevant industry experience, not to mention the stability of the job.
I have also interned with other public agencies, and I feel Govtech has shown me a refreshing new side of the public tech sector.
PS: If you’re a student passionate about tech, or someone interested in mentoring the next generation, keep an eye out for Geekout 2024 announcements or join our talent community!
We invite you to join us in making it an even more engaging and educational experience. Sign up here for updates and don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this incredible journey into the world of tech.
See you there!https://www.tech.gov.sg/images/technews/geekout-2023-shaping-future-tech-leaders