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Electrical and electronic engineering student wins big at the hackathon


First-year Electrical and Electronic Engineering student from The University of Nottingham Malaysia Joanne Khoo Jia Yu emerged as the champion of IET Hack//Planet Malaysia, a hackathon organised by The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET).

The IET Hack//Planet competition was organised by IET Volunteers from the IET Young Professional Section (YPS) Malaysia as part of the IET’s 150 Anniversary Celebration.

During the competition, participants were challenged to propose ideas that combat and resolve issues currently afflicting the planet according to three themes - War against extinction: Wildlife Conservation, Sustainability focused: Green Planet, and Save our ocean: Cleaner Seas. The competition was open to individuals and also teams of up to five people.

The competition was divided into three stages. In stage one, contestants had to plan the project outline and proposal and submit the idea to the judges. If their proposal were selected, participants would then progress to stage two.

In stage two, participants received an electronics kit to build their prototype and prepare for the proof-of-concept video. Once the video was filmed and put together, participants had to submit it before the stipulated deadline. If the participants were then selected, they would progress to the final stage.

In the final stage, participants were allocated a 10-minute slot to explain to the judges the details of their project. During the finale, which was held live online, members of the audience could also vote for their favourite project.

For her sustainability-focused project: Green Planet theme, Joanne built a bicycle generator out of a faulty alternator that a mechanic was about to scrap, an old 12 V car battery and old wires from spoiled extension cords that she found at home.

When Joanne learnt from the Department of Statistics Malaysia’s records that 86.4% of all electrical energy generated is from non-renewable sources and only 13.6% from renewable sources, she had the idea of creating a renewable energy generator.

Taking inspiration from the many people who have been working out at home during the lockdown, she came up with the idea of the bicycle generator. This was based on the principle that exercising (cycling) exerts energy and generates electrical energy to power devices and appliances.

The purpose of her project was to prove that the adoption of renewable energy systems in our households can be affordable and to make renewable energy systems more approachable and less daunting to the public, so in the future, there can be less reliance on fossil fuels for our electrical energy source.

She adds that the bicycle generator still has to be further developed to achieve the goal of being a reliable renewable energy source for household adoption, but by the end of the competition, she had already developed a working prototype.

“A huge part of my time building this bicycle generator was trying and failing multiple times, then researching and fine-tuning and making changes, until I finally had a prototype that worked,” Joanne said.

Joanne said that she is grateful for her parents, siblings, relatives, friends and teachers support.

“My family and friends helped a lot, especially with the cycling when I was testing the bicycle generator - their sweat and effort was not wasted. I am also grateful to my uncle for the fun we had together working on this project and my teachers for the lessons they taught me, especially for instilling in us students troubleshooting skills, debugging skills, problem-solving skills, which proved invaluable throughout this competition,” she added.

(Article and thumbnail image caption: IET HACK//PLANET Malaysia Hackathon 2021)


For media enquiries please contact: Josephine Dionisappu, PR and Communications Manager University of Nottingham Malaysia at  

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted on 27th October 2021

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