UTM Goes Global via Olympiad Competition

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) was chosen as a strategic partner for the American Chemical Society (ACS) Malaysia Chapter to host the USA National Chemistry Olympiad competition for the first time in the region of South East Asia.

A preliminary examination that required was held before the Movement Control Order (MCO) imposition at the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, UTM.

This examination was participated by a high school student, Mr. Vasu Kaker, a US citizen currently residing in Singapore. The exam was coordinated by Dr. Mohd Bakri Bakar and Dr. Sheela Chandren.

Preliminary examination                                     

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent phases of the competition had to be held via online platform. For the first part, the student was required to sit for an online exam in the form of multiple-choice questions.

Mr. Vasu Kaker managed to qualify for the second round of the exam, which was held during MCO. During this part of the exam, the student was asked to write his responses on pieces of paper. He was then required to send the scanned copies of his answers using his cell phone before submitting them electronically.

For the record, it was the first time for Olympiad competition to be organized via online platform. Thus, several guidelines have been provided by the ACS International Office to ensure the smooth running of the online competition.

The guideline includes the requirement to use two separate devices which one for taking the exam and another one to allow exam proctoring through online communication program, such as Zoom.

Exam proctoring during the second part of the competition

Upon completion, Mr. Kaker managed to get awarded with High Honors (Top 50 out of ~18,000 students) in this year’s USA National Chemistry Olympiad. Apart from that, he also set a new record by becoming the first-ever student located outside of the United States to achieve this ranking.

The student expressed his appreciation to the organizers for all the support and guidance given throughout the Olympiad journey.

This initiative is part of the long term collaboration between UTM and ACS in supporting the global education training to nurture the next generation of scientists. It is hoped that next year’s Chemistry Olympiad will attract more participants, in line with the increasing number of international schools around Johor and Singapore.

Prepared by: ChM. Dr. Mohd Bakri Bakar and ChM. Dr. Sheela Chandren