Kevin Wo, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore (left) presenting the first runner-up prize to Singapore student, Lee Jun Hui (centre) for the Asia Pacific’s Next Top Coder competition, alongside Dr. Daiana Beitler, Philanthropies Director, Microsoft Asia
Ever imagined walking up a concrete flight of steps to a majestic museum on top of a tower, and stepping into an immersive showcase to watch Singapore’s history-defining moments come alive right before your eyes? 18-year-old ITE Information Technology graduate, Lee Jun Hui, has created a virtual history museum with Minecraft: Education Edition which allows you to do just that.
Centred upon the Maria Hertogh riots in the 1950s and the Little India riot that took place in 2013, the museum not only takes players through Singapore’s defining moments of days past, it also brings them along an immersive journey by combining key elements of Singapore’s heritage with technology to help them to understand the importance of harmony in a multi-racial, multi-religious society like Singapore.
The immersive storytelling and detailed animation that brought the virtual history museum to life were the reasons why Jun Hui emerged as one of three winners at the Asia Pacific’s Next Top Coder competition organised by Empire Code in partnership with Microsoft and Lenovo.
Designed to empower students across Asia Pacific with future-ready skills to help them create and build with technology, the competition tasked the participants to teach a time in history by creating a world using Minecraft: Education Edition and Microsoft MakeCode. Garnering 1,318 registrations from youth aged 13 to 19 across the region, Michael Hamonangan Sitorus from Indonesia emerged as the eventual winner, while Jun Hui from Singapore came close as the first runner-up, and Jonathan Squirrell from New Zealand was placed as the second runner-up.
Jun Hui was also one of the 350,000 students engaged in December 2018 during Microsoft’s Future Ready Campaign in Asia, an initiative aimed at igniting the interest of students in computer science while building the capabilities of educators from all disciplines to impart these skills.
Honing coding skills through the immersive world of Minecraft
Since young, Jun Hui has immersed himself into the world of Minecraft, spending much of his time exploring, tinkering and building virtual worlds that are limited only by his own imagination. As he went on to pursue his studies in Information Technology at ITE, his teachers noticed that he was progressing faster than most of his peers and encouraged him to participate in the Asia Pacific’s Next Top Coder competition.
With the help of his teacher and classmates, Jun Hui combined his love for Minecraft and history knowledge to build the virtual history museum. To top this off, he also utilised Microsoft MakeCode to recreate the riot scenes, bringing the scenarios to life through detailed animation in the world of Minecraft.
Jun Hui’s creative use of Minecraft and Microsoft MakeCode to craft an immersive historical experience earned him high praise from the judges. Jasmine Tang, Co-Founder of Empire Code, said, “The impressive showcase of Singapore’s riotous history in an experiential museum, together with the outstanding use of coding to explain his story, enabled Jun Hui to win second place in Asia Pacific’s Next Top Coder competition.”
Aw Kim Geok, Director, School of Electronics and Info-Comm Technology, ITE College Central, said, “We are very proud of Jun Hui’s intense passion and efforts in embarking on a research and building a virtual history museum using his coding skills. Winning second prize in the competition is a great recognition of his efforts. His achievement will inspire his peers in school to work hard at developing their coding skills, as they move towards becoming the next generation of software developers.”
As a reward for his efforts, Jun Hui won himself a Lenovo Star WarTM: Jedi Challenges box set, apparels from Empire Code as well as a personal career coaching program led by Microsoft volunteers. As an aspiring software developer who will be furthering his studies in Multimedia & Infocomm Technology at Nanyang Polytechnic, Jun Hui received guidance from Microsoft employees from the Human Resources and Azure engineering teams on possible career paths in computer science fields.
Kevin Wo, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore, said, “The ability to create and build with technology and tell stories in a way that relates to people are skills that are increasingly in demand by employers today. We are proud to see that Jun Hui’s outstanding use of coding and storytelling to bring his virtual history museum to life has placed him among the winners at Asia Pacific’s Next Top Coder competition. As Microsoft continues to empower youths with the technology tools and provide them with platforms like this to unleash their potential, this will help to foster a growing pool of future-ready talents who have the confidence and ability to change the world.”