NTU and SUTD Student Team Emerges Champion in YITU’s Inaugural AI Hackathon

(L-R) Dr Zhang Zhenjie, R&D Director of YITU Singapore and We_AI_YITU team members Tan Jun En, Lee Kwan Meng and Isaac Cheong

Singapore, 22 February 2019 – The YITU Singapore Research & Development (R&D) Centre is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 YITU Singapore Hack-AI-thon, YITU’s inaugural Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computer vision hackathon for local tertiary students.

We­_AI_YITU, the champion team from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) has emerged first in the hackathon, which challenged teams to put their AI model training skills to the test. Participating teams were required to optimise the performance of their AI model for object detection, an important computer vision task crucial to autonomous driving and other AI applications. The champion team impressed the judging panel with their AI model which learned, detected and categorised images from a sample dataset with the highest accuracy.

As first place winners, We_AI_YITU will receive a cash prize of S$3,000. In recognition of their contributions, the first, second and third runner-up teams will each receive a cash prize of S$1,000 while 10 finalist teams will receive S$300 each. Plans are also in the pipeline to offer selected students internship opportunities to gain further exposure to real-world AI projects.

Reflecting on their win, Isaac Cheong, of team We_AI_YITU said, “The YITU Hack-AI-thon was an opportunity for our team to apply the AI and machine learning skills we learned in school and try our hand at something that AI engineers do on an almost daily basis. After all, AI model training forms the basis of all the exciting AI innovations we see today from facial recognition to voice assistants.

Agreeing, Tan Jun En, also a member of the champion team, said, “As students, it is difficult for us to find the right GPU resources to practice training AI models with quality datasets. We were thrilled to be able to access state of the art machine learning resources during this hackathon and to receive guidance from the YITU R&D team throughout the hackathon.”

It feels great to win and for our efforts and hard work to be recognised. We also learnt so much from the other teams through the hackathon’s discussion forum. Now that we have experience creating our own AI model, we definitely want to continue improving our AI modelling skills and applying them to our work in future,” We_AI_YITU team member Lee Kwan Meng added.

More than 40 student teams from tertiary institutions spanning National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management University (SMU), NTU and SUTD registered for the hackathon which took place virtually from 15 to 17 February 2019. Participating teams were provided with a GPU-equipped Amazon Web Services (AWS) image with preloaded model baseline code and training dataset as well as S$200 in AWS credits for AWS’ GPU resources. Participation was open to students from all AI proficiency levels in Singapore.

The YITU Hack-AI-thon was created to help students hone critical AI and machine learning skills. The YITU Singapore R&D Centre is keen to help nurture the next generation of AI scientists and engineers. We believe in empowering young talent, regardless of their field of study or qualifications, and helping them grow on their AI journey alongside the company,”  said Dr Zhang Zhenjie, R&D Director of YITU Singapore.

“As Singapore continues to develop its digital economy, building a strong pipeline of local AI talent will be key to thriving in our AI-centric future,” he added.

The YITU Singapore R&D Centre is YITU’s first in Southeast Asia. Launched on 31 January 2019, the R&D Centre plays an important role in supporting the company’s innovation-led growth in Singapore and the region. To drive R&D efforts, the Centre plans to triple its R&D staff count over the next three years to bring the team size to around 100 employees.


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