HKU Engineering students @ IBL Global Inclusive STEM+ Leadership week

Supervisor of the two Engineering students:
– Dr. Violet Lo (Founder of Inclusive Business Foundation)
– Dr. C.K. Chui (Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering, University of Hong Kong)


The IBL Global Inclusive Leadership Next Gen Program​

This year marks the expansion of the Global Inclusive Leadership Program from China to Thailand. More than one thousand students in eighteen institutes from Greater China, Thailand and the UK participate in the leadership weeks. Students immerse themselves in a cross-cultural and social-mixing environment to develop and work closely together to come up with solutions that go beyond their training while adapting themselves in different cultural settings and developing global-minded perspective. For the participants, it is a journey of self-discovery and self-development. Among the values and skills students acquire in the program, innovative ideas, unconditional love and the spirit of teamwork stand out as the most noted and will help them to prepare for the future – a future of global citizenship. As one of the most respected educators in Thailand remarks: “it is truly an education of the twenty-first century.”

The core of the STEM+ Leadership Week is the Training the Trainers Leadership Roundtables (TTLR) and the STEM+ challenges. The TTLR gives students a grounding of the value-based leadership training and the background training for teamwork and team spirit. The STEM+ challenges are designed and led by our fellows who are a post-doctoral researcher and PhD candidates from the University of Cambridge and the University of London. This year the four challenges are Genome Big Data, Health Innovation, Quantum Music, and the Future Cities. These challenges encourage students to step out of their comfort zone and to see a bigger picture of the world.

Students come to discover the importance to be innovative, and to learn to work with teammates, and to understand the power of teamwork that is far beyond one single person can achieve. No less challenging is the presentation of their findings and solutions that are required to be demonstrated in the forms of video-clips, infographics, posters, and music performance and rapping. To cap it all is the Final Challenge which is a real test for combining the value-based leadership training together with the knowledge and skill learned in the program to create a better world of the future. Both winning teams, the ‘Remarkable’, and the ‘Spiderman’, stood out in their innovative ideas for the world of tomorrow and for global citizenship.
New to this year’s program is the Final Exhibition where students have the opportunity to showcase their work over the course of the STEM+ Leadership Week. It is wonderful to witness the passion and dedication behind the presentation in posters, 3D models, craftworks, and even music. It is very inspirational to have a glimpse of the future world through some of the wonderful exhibitions. Here is another worthy stage for students to share their ideas and make a positive impact.
Prior to the opening ceremony in Zhenjiang, China, Mr Jesse Wu, a distinguished global business leader, came to share his vision and wisdom of leadership with the students. In Thailand, Professor Mete Atature of the University of Cambridge, delivered the key-note speech soon after performing with students in STEM+ rapping on the stage. Two principals from Zhenjiang, Mr Zhong Weigui of Dagang High School and Mr Huang Weirong of Dantu High School also shored up their support for the Global Inclusive Leadership Program.
The rich cultural, social aspects of the STEM+ Leadership Week go beyond the classrooms and the stage. In Zhenjiang, more than thirty students from Thailand and the UK are housed in host families. In Bangkok, overseas teachers and students enjoy their stay in the beautiful settings of Vajiravudh College, while Chitralada Technology Institute provides venues for challenges as well as speed-dating and cooking sessions which further enhance the mutual understanding and appreciation of different social and cultural backgrounds. Here is a platform for growth and development not just for the students. It is also for the fellows who run the challenges; for interns who assist and support the IT technology (for the online dashboards and big data effort) and social media; for volunteers; and for student leaders who have been with us since the inception of the program. It is also a stage for more than one hundred teachers and parents who come and witness their own kids’ progress and participated in the “Cool Parents” live competition. The winners of the award exhibit parenting ideas that are in line with the ideas of unconditional love and support that have a positive impact on their children.
All the efforts come together at the Vajiravudh College in the Final Challenge, Final Exhibition and Inclusive Concert: an epitome of the ideas of the program, “Life upon Life”, and “Be the Example, Be the Culture, Be the Movement’. The journey they embark today will help their future tomorrow. One of the most moving performances in the concert is the Chinese song “Love Devotion”, sung by Chinese and Thai students and accompanied by deaf students from the local Setsatian School. It is a great harmony of voices and hearts and the lyric and message of unconditional love will stay in the mind of the students who will be the leaders of tomorrow.
Project details and process

The student Adwithya Magow from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of the University of Hong Kong has worked amongst experienced programmers to help build a website interface and mobile applications that will be used during the Leadership Weeks in Zhenjiang and Bangkok. The website interface involves making a dashboard for the website which updates real-time as users gain more points through various events/activities. The mobile applications will assist in bringing some of the innovative ideas of the program to life, e.g. “Cool Parents” live competition, the parents were competing to get most “right” answers that match the students’.

Another student Pareen Khanna from the Department of Computer Science of the University of Hong Kong has worked amongst experienced programmers and data scientists to support the data science effort that will be used during the Leadership Weeks in Zhenjiang and Bangkok. The work includes using data science to keep track of the individuals’ progress and ensure the effectiveness of the program. Data will be collected through the preliminary questionnaires and feedback forms. All this data will be modelled to find patterns and closely analyze to see every participant progress, the progress of the program, in general, to improve the program more in the future.

Project result

All program is written will contribute to the computing & data science effort for the Next Gen Program and the STEM+ Leadership Week. The STEM+ Leadership Week will be held in China and Thailand on a very large scale with more than 1000 students.

Since the inception of the program in 2014, the program has impacted more than ten thousands young people and is working with more than twenty partnering schools and colleges in China, Asia and the UK. More than 95% of the students experienced self-discovery, learning more about themselves, their talents and strengthens, and that they can be very creative. And more than 97% feel that they are more ready for new challenges, and are inspired to make a difference to the society.

Student learning and achievements

Adwithya Magow

Participating in the Inclusive Business Lab STEM+ Leadership Week in China and Thailand is one of the most adventurous and risky things I have done in my life. I am glad to say that the risk I took was worthwhile and that my experience over the summer allowed me to gain insight and practical experience in the vast world of programming, helped me mature as an individual whether it be through an increase in self-confidence or growth in self-belief. Over the summer, I have had very different and unique experiences which I never thought would be possible, met many new people and made some good friends and last but not the least was able to dive into and explore the culture of not just one but two breathtaking countries.

Above, I referred to my decision to take part as risky and adventurous. I say this because of two reasons. First, When I applied for the position, I had no experience and no knowledge in any of the technologies/programming languages they wanted but they saw my passion to learn and to do and gave me a chance. I had to work very hard to meet the expectations of the project. Doing so I gained greater knowledge and experience, of course, but more importantly, I am able to confidently believe in myself that I am able to do anything I put the mind into. Second, I had applied for this position to help with education technology in places I had never visited before and without any friend whom I knew beforehand. Doing so, forced me to interact and meet new people and to appreciate the culture more.

My role in the project was that of a web developer intern. As talked above before I did not know anything about web development, not even about HTML and CSS. After the event, I can confidently say I know HTML, CSS, Javascript, React, Typescript, Github, Heroku, Node, Express, MongoDB, Mongoose, etc. and have real programming experience with all of these languages and more.
I always believe in challenging oneself and doing things which make one uncomfortable in order to keep learning as a person. I was challenged in many ways exclusive from programming related tasks. I have always had stage fright. This makes it very hard for me to do presentations at University as well. I was challenged by having to go up on stage and talk about the technology I worked for and explain it to a crowd, I was challenged by having to dance and sing on the opening of the event in Bangkok and I was challenged when I had to rap on stage for the closing event in Bangkok. I believe this has helped me with my stage fright.

In Zhenjiang and Bangkok, we lived in two residences in different areas of the city, each place we lived in gave us a different exposure to the people, the food and the people of the city. Though the workload was intense, through time management, we visited many tourist attractions and experimented with different food.
In Zhenjiang, we visited many iconic places such as the Vinegar Museum, Zhenjiang Museum, etc. We even had a cultural trip, where we went to Shanghai and visited The Bund, Yu Garden, The Oriental Peral Tower etc. In Bangkok, we went to many tourist attractions as well such as The Grand Palace, The Chatuchak Weekend Market and many of the malls in Bangkok.

Pareen Khanna

I always wanted a chance to explore Mainland China and I wanted to do it in a more local way to understand the culture better and get a chance to really live outside my comfort zone considering I don’t know Mandarin at all. I feel Zhenjiang was the perfect city because while the youngsters did know English in the school which made communication while working easier, outside I had to do things on my own which made it very exciting. There were no foreigners compared to cities like Shanghai and Beijing so I was met with a lot of curious but warm stares. I was happy to answer questions like where am I from and even learnt how to say it in Chinese. The people were so hospitable and tried to understand me even if I was just saying the wrong translation of things. I also got a chance to visit Shanghai on one weekend to explore more around China and get to see more tourist places. While Shanghai was more international than Zhenjiang, because it was such a massive city exploring it was a new experience as well.

To describe a little more about my work, I first familiarized myself with all the technology that was already being used i.e the app was hosted on Heroku, read and understood the code on GitHub and the forms were created using TypeForm. The advantages and disadvantages of both MongoDB and MySQL for the backend database were weighed but MySQL was suggested because of its RDBMS nature. The tables were drawn up in MySQL and data was pushed into them through the app. I used MySQL Workbench to query the data. First, a test database was created which had a lot of testing data that needed to be properly sorted into the tables and then the resulting tables were used for data analysis. The resulting tables were then uploaded to Tableau for visualizing them in the form of graphs. For more accuracy and variation of tools, data analysis using Python was also done using libraries like Seaborn, NumPy, MatplotLib etc as well as utility functions were also created.

I also helped out in setting up forms for a few parts of the programs and tested out the existing applications extensively and troubleshoot any issues. During the Leadership week, I was amazed to see the potential of the young Chinese High School students. They were so creative and had so many wonderful ideas.
This internship provided me with a lot of insights about the outside world, my major and even myself. What really drove me to take up this internship apart from the technological aspect was the cultural and social exposure. Not only did this allow me to push myself outside my comfort zone regarding my major but also made me realise that sometimes there are so many things that happen along the way that you cannot predict and have to deal with but that’s what makes the whole experience very exciting and prepares you for the future.

Future plan
The program expects to benefit more than 250,000 next generations and training more than 25,000 trainers over the next 3-5 years. For the next stage of growth and reaching out more people especially those underprivileged in the rural areas, besides recruiting more fellows and training the trainers, we shall continue to build out the big data machine learning technology platform.
Dr. Violet Lo
Inclusive Business Foundation

“Leaders lead to change! What would the world look like when we have leaders who love and give to others? The journey they embark today will help their future tomorrow. It is a great harmony of voices and hearts and the message of unconditional love will stay in the mind of the students who will be the leaders of tomorrow.”


We would like to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation for all of the support we received from our donors, which include: