From left: Foo Hung Ngiap (Electrical Engineering), Wilguish Ng (Business Administration), Austin Goh (Artificial Intelligence-CS), and me (Artificial Intelligence-CS)

Last week I experienced a new aspect of university life.

Sina Meraji
Feb 25, 2016 · 4 min read

11 days ago one of my seniors at University of Malaysia reached out to me and told me he was forming a team to join a hackathon organized by Materialise NV. It was awesome to be asked. So I joined with no hesitations (I’m a first year student), letting him know what I could and what I couldn’t do, honestly. This is a great thing about joining hackathons as students. You’ll test your skills and creativity, and if you’re open to learning new things; you’ll end up learning how to be more humble and passionate.

We had never met before (later I found out none of us in the team had met before! Awesome right?) but a 6 hours long brainstorming session in Friday evening was enough for us to feel like we’ve known each other for ages. Our team consisted of 5 students (one of the guys got a leg fracture and couldn’t make it). After that brilliant Friday evening, we spent the next 24 hours thinking and talking and sharing ideas and making things and learning things and erasing things and meeting new people. We met a 5th year dentistry student from UM. She’s part of a tech startup. Apart from that, she’s the founder of ToothGood. This is inspiring!

I loved every moment of those 30 hours: reaching crazy dead-ends in our brainstorming sessions, making 3D models; playing ping-pong at 3AM to hard-reset our minds; all the crazy jokes and serious ideas. We didn’t win but I call it a success because it made us better and really pushed us forward. We set new goals and started planning things after the hackathon. I really wish some day we all can look back and call this a milestone. Doing our best to get there, I know.

Meet new, random people in university

You’ll be amazed how much you have in common

It’s been an insanely amazing week, as if I’m suddenly in a different world and living a new aspect of life. After the amazing hackathon experience, we stayed in touch and are (hopefully) going to meet more and make things together. Tonight, at around 9PM I attended the 8th session of the Brainstorming Mob, organized by Wilguish (second from the left in the picture). Wilguish is a final year Business Administration student and is someone I really enjoy talking and sharing ideas with. I respect his determination and will to contribute to the community. If you wanna start meeting people with original ideas, this is a great place to start.

Brainstorming Mob, a bi-weekly project by Wilguish Ng (of UM).

At the event, again I met new people; including Cancan Raw (Chemical Engineering student). He’s the founder of Can Can’s Handmade (You should definitely check it out!). I love his brand and seeing the sense of originality in his work inspires me.

Can Can Handmade’s homepage slider photo

There’s another awesome friend of mine (from the hackathon) I wanna talk about: Foo (First year electrical Engineering student) has been doing a lot of work in IT field lately and is someone I really wanna work [and hang out] with :D Check out his website FooFooZilla (choosing a good website domain that includes your name is an art I never managed to master. He killed it). if you ever need a website a mobile app (there are more services on website) he will find you, and he will..wait…actually you have to find him and ask him to build it for you. He’s good.

If you’re a UM student (or any other university, anywhere else in the world) you should start meeting new people in your university. You’ll be amazed how much you have in common and you will learn a lot, too.

It all started from a hackathon!

A hackathon we couldn’t win.

Maybe we were a bit out of place (expecting more programming, microcontrollers and geeky things) but we were really optimistic we would go there and learn as many things as possible (I clearly remember my first conversation with Austin on Facebook, 11 days ago; where he said “we’re not doing this for victory, we’re going there to learn more”). I look forward to work with Austin more and learn from him (and from other seniors, too).

Last Sunday, right after we left the hackathon, we concluded we should keep going to such events more and more. We won’t lose anything, but we will learn a lot, and in terms of project management and working in a group; it’s a magical boost. It’s a good measure, too, to see how real world professionals are and how (or if) your academic learnings are contributing to your skills and character.

I’ve always believed my biggest competition is with myself, not with anyone else.

We have to try to be the best we can possibly be. To achieve that, we should ‘work together’.

That’s honestly the best conclusion I can choose for this past week. I’ve learned to be more humble and be true with myself and others, and sometimes stop and remember:

“Not knowing isn’t a shame, not asking is.”


Sina Meraji

Written by

24— Product Manager, education idealist

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