Cultivating a Love for Computer Science at Malaysia’s STEM Centre

“Anyone can learn to program. It’s a matter of getting the right resources to understand the fundamental concepts,” said Danaraj Ram Kumar, a Malaysian Microsoft YouthSpark advocate. This is a sentiment shared by the Multimedia Development Center (MDeC), which hopes to nurture future innovators for Malaysia’s digital economy.

 The event was graced by (from left to right) Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, Chief Executive Officer of MDeC; Yang Berhormat Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Minister of Communication and Multimedia; Carlos Lacerda, Microsoft Malaysia Managing Director; and Muhammad Imran Kunalan Abdullah, MDeC Talent Director.

As part of its ICT As A Career of Choice campaign, MDeC launched the STEM Centre in October last year to drive student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Equipped with technical tools and training kits, the centre will provide both students and their parents a platform to learn more about Computer Science—especially programming, coding and computational thinking.

“We are well aware that children today are much more exposed to technology than their parents. It is important that parents understand these technologies themselves, so they can take an active role in their children’s learning,” said Muhammed Imran Kunalan Abdullah, Talent Director of MDeC.

Serving as instructors for the launch event’s training sessions were Danaraj, a 21-year-old Software Engineering student from Taylor’s University, and fellow schoolmate, Nikitha Menon, a Business student *** coding enthusiast. The first advocate for the YouthSpark programme in Malaysia and a former Microsoft Student Partner, Danaraj said, “I had the opportunity to learn about building applications and share my knowledge with other students through small tech workshops. I am glad to be able to do so once more with the students at this centre.”

 Danaraj Ram Kumar, Malaysia’s first Microsoft YouthSpark advocate, shares with Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek the basics of programming.

Through hands-on experience with tools, including Microsoft Surface devices, Danaraj and Menon introduced basic programming concepts to the students, such as sequential execution, selection and repetition. They also walked them through Microsoft’s Project Siena (Beta) and Small Basic.

“It was initially difficult to understand how coding worked just by hearing about it. However, as soon as we tried our hands at it, the concept was easier to grasp!” exclaimed student Rahman.

In the future, regular activities will be carried out at the STEM Centre, such as classes in 3D printing, embedded systems and online security, which will be conducted on a monthly basis and during the school holidays. Through these programmes, MDeC hopes to introduce similar interest for Computer Science to the rest of the country, and encourage youth to explore career options within the STEM industries.

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