UTAR grad wins US$7K as champion of Adobe’s global design contest, beating 65K contestants

The Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) World Championship is a global competition that tests students’ design skills in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. Presented by Certiport, students are invited to represent their respective countries at the World Championship. 

Recurring for its 8th year in a row, the 2021 competition attracted more than 65,000 contestants from 65 countries to prove their design skills. From the pool of contestants, a 23-year-old Malaysian has claimed first place, receiving a US$7,000 prize.

Meet Danny Tse Wei Chun

Currently a coordinating producer at Omens Animation Studios, Danny was born in Alor Setar, Kedah. In an interview with Vulcan Post, he shared that his design knack took off when he joined his foundation programme at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR).

Taking on a Digital Animation degree, he dove deeper into the ins and outs of Photoshop and developed his skills in animation which included character design and illustration.

It was in his 2nd year of university that Danny became more active and joined as a member of the school’s editorial team for events. There, he had more exposure to creating posters.

“That sparked my interest as I was glad to see the capability of visual design to grab someone’s attention,” Danny told us. However, poster design isn’t necessarily where his main interest lies—it’s in illustration.

If the opportunity arises, Danny hopes to be a great illustrator in the future.

Championing through the stages

Danny learnt about the ACA design competition from a lecturer in UTAR before graduating in August 2021. He took it as an opportunity to test his skills in the national version of the competition first, the ACA Championship Malaysia 2021.

Hosted by Acestar, a known local IT provider, the national competition narrows down its top 30 students who will sit for an 8-hour Live Test without access to internet references for design inspiration. Acestar told Vulcan Post that Malaysia is the only country to conduct this Live Test to simulate the actual competition, and that only 3 winners can emerge. These 3 will then be prepared for the world stage.

This year, Malaysia managed to produce 2 design students that made it to the Top 5 at 2021’s ACA World Championship. With Danny in 1st place, Sze Ting Teo from Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARUC) came in 5th.

During the global competition, students were given 6 hours to design a project for Limbitless Solutions, a US-based bionics manufacturer that was chosen as this year’s non-profit client. And if you’ve ever used Adobe Creative Cloud software, you’ll know that a lot can go wrong when you’re rushing for a client.

A lot can go wrong in 6 hours

The Top 3 winning designs / Image Credit: Adobe Certified Associate World Championship

Going into the competition with no prior knowledge about Limbitless Solutions, Danny was only provided with the client’s logo, a few illustrations of its Bionic Kid comic characters, and its title. The rest had to be designed from scratch with either of the creative software provided via the competition’s virtual computer, which was where he entered deep waters.

Danny shared that he and most participants took more than an hour logging into the virtual computer at the start of the 6-hour competition. Furthermore, all participants should be given a unique login link, but Danny and another Malaysian participant were given the same one, and it took them a while before they realised that.

It was beyond the designers’ capabilities to solve the issue, so they had to call in the competition’s tech team.

Furthermore, Danny, who’s most proficient in Adobe Photoshop, reported that the Pen tool in the virtual computer’s software was malfunctioning.

“This affected my performance in the competition because [the Pen tool] is an important feature to create good illustrations in Adobe Photoshop,” said Danny who had to snap out of a momentary sense of defeat to focus his attention on his secondary strength, Adobe Illustrator.

But just when he thought he was out of the woods, the software began lagging when effects were applied. With it slowing down after every new edit, Danny decided to export each layer from Adobe Illustrator and arrange them in Adobe Photoshop. 

Whether intentional or not, Danny’s quick thinking and ability to solve problems within the creative suite suggests his high proficiency in using them. 

It is unknown whether or not judges were aware of his design process. However, Danny still produced a design that won in the areas of visual appeal, ability to meet the client’s requirements, brand aesthetics, and his usage of Adobe Creative Cloud applications. 

Now armed with a total of US$7,000, Danny plans to use the prize fund to treat his family and lecturers to thank them for their support. He will then keep the rest for his future to hopefully use it as living expenses in the US, where he hopes to work as an illustrator.

  • You can learn more about 2021’s Adobe Certified Associate World Championship here.
  • Read other articles on Malaysian creatives here.

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Featured Image Credit: Danny Tse Wei Chun, 1st place winner at 2021’s Adobe Certified Associate World Championship

In pursuit of effective edutech, this startup ensures SEA teachers don’t get left behind

[Written in partnership with MaGIC, but the editorial team had full control over the content.]

While we’ve featured many Malaysian edutech platforms that have emerged both before and during the pandemic, most of them are catered to students or the masses looking to upskill.

But to have meaningful and productive lessons, teachers must also know how to handle their students and classrooms through a screen. Yet there has been a gap in the market so far for a platform to train up educators.

That’s according to Zulfikar Alimuddin, Williams Rahaditama, and Hengki Dwiyan Hermawan, the founding team of an Indonesian edutech site, GuruInovatif.id (GuruInovatif). 

“Usually, educational platforms target students or schools, even though there are more than 4.3 million teachers in Indonesia that need to develop their teaching competencies,” they told Vulcan Post.

Looking to expand its operations around SEA, it joined the Global Accelerator Programme (GAP) held by the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC).

Teaching the teachers

Launched in September 2020, there are at least 3 problems in the development of teaching and learning that GuruInovatif wants to address. They include the access to training and certification, digital literacy, along with guidance and continuous professional development.

To solve these pain points, the platform offers development programmes to teachers that are taught by experienced trainers. Browsing the courses provided, it appears that most lessons are directed towards Indonesian school programmes, but there seem to be some general courses too that may be suitable for any teacher regardless of location.

Additionally, there are courses to guide teachers on how to navigate digital tools for online classes, including how to publish articles on WordPress, and learning the basics of using Google Docs.

According to the team, such courses are offered because there are some general concepts and frameworks that any teacher should adopt to teach effectively. Plus, they are aiming for GuruInovatif to cater to all teachers, regardless of subjects or grades.

Some certification-based courses on the site

GuruInovatif offers both live webinars and on-demand videos for their lessons, much like the Malaysian edutech platform ReSkills. The Indonesian startup shares ReSkills’ opinion that live webinars are beneficial as they facilitate interaction and discussions between participants and trainers. 

“Meanwhile, on-demand videos are made so that teachers can access the training flexibly, anywhere, anytime,” added the team.

To ensure the success of the courses, GuruInovatif conducts pre-tests before each class to measure a teacher’s initial knowledge in a subject. After the class, another test is held to assess how much knowledge is gained from the training.

Once courses are completed, participants will be provided with certificates to showcase their competency in the subject matter.

Reaching the target market

With GuruInovatif aiming to train up various levels of teachers, its team is ensuring that no teacher gets lost during their training journey. 

For example, teachers who come onboard as individuals will be guided through the platform’s self-service model, where demonstrations on how to use the site will be provided.

The GuruInovatif team has also managed to onboard teachers by collaborating with the related associations for teachers and school heads, along with government programmes in Indonesia.

Courses to help teachers with picking up digital tools

Operating on a subscription and pay-per-class model, GuruInovatif reported that it now has over 100,000 subscribers consisting of teachers and educators. On average, the platform sees around 1,000 to 10,000 new monthly subscribers.

Based on the team’s sharing, it appears that they have little issue onboarding teachers who want to upskill, which shows demand for their programmes. However, the team is seeking funding from investors and venture capitals to expand and deliver their programmes to more teachers in Indonesia, and hopefully the rest of SEA too.

Access to the global market

Our plan for next year is to make GuruInovatif not only for teachers but for the education ecosystem (teachers, schools, local governments, students, parents, etc.). So, we hope that GuruInovatif can become a Super App for education.

Zulfikar Alimuddin, Williams Rahaditama, and Hengki Dwiyan Hermawan, the founding team of GuruInovatif

To build on this goal, GuruInovatif has joined MaGIC’s GAP, which gives startups the opportunity to potentially grow their platform in the APAC region.

GuruInovatif shared that they’re looking to gain advice from experts and mentors in getting their startup ready for the global market. The team is also hoping to network and collaborate with other startups in the region by forging regional partnerships and building a potential investment ecosystem. 

Furthermore, to attain the funding they need to grow their platform, joining GAP will give them access to potential capital from the MaGIC ecosystem via the GAP Investment Partners.

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Based on the current GuruInovatif site, it is likely that there is more to be done before it’s ready to take on a larger market outside of Indonesia. For example, the main language on the platform is in Bahasa Indonesia, with other languages yet to be available.

Additionally, localisation is of utmost importance if GuruInovatif wants to scale effectively in the global market, as courses in each country’s programmes need to be relevant to its syllabus and taught by experts in their respective fields.

  • You can learn more about GuruInovatif here.
  • You can read more edutech related content here.

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Featured Image Credit: Zulfikar Alimuddin, Williams Rahaditama, and Hengki Dwiyan Hermawan, the founding team of GuruInovatif