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Written by:
Trinity Hall
09 Oct 2019

WMA Student, also known as the WYNG Philomathia Student Essay Contest, aims to help local fourth and fifth form students in Hong Kong to develop a greater awareness towards social issues by encouraging them to submit short essays based on the themed works of the WMA Masters winners. The winners of the essay contest come to Trinity Hall for the Cambridge open day in July and receive a supervision on their essay.

This year the prize was expanded to include a machine learning/AI competition and we were pleased to partner with Corpus Christi College. The competition aims to encourage machine learning and AI initiatives among the local upper secondary school students, with an emphasis on creativity, practicality and DIY spirit in the Internet era, promoting learning and problem-solving skills inspired by big data.

Dr Andrew Murray, former Undergraduate Admissions Tutor and one of the founders of the essay prize, said: “Appropriately enough, the theme of this year’s WYNG Philomathia essay competition was ‘opportunity’. In early June we welcomed six young Hongkongers who grasped their opportunity to visit Trinity Hall and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Cambridge during the busy Open Days. As usual, we were blown away by their energy, imagination and enthusiasm communicated both through their winning entries and during our supervision sessions. For the first time this year we also teamed up with our colleagues at Corpus Christi College who organised a parallel competition in robotics and AI, and we were able to bring the winners of both competitions together for a special dinner hosted by the Master. The essay competition has gone from strength to strength over the years, with many winners going on to apply to Cambridge and a good number receiving offers. We wish all of this year’s student winners, across both competitions, the very best in their forthcoming university applications and hope to see some of them again soon.”

When we visited Hong Kong last month, the Master and I were delighted to have a tour of the WYNG Offices, including their exhibition space which housed the winning designs from the robotics prize. The school students had been challenged with designing a machine to help with quality control of strawberries. The first step being to determine what characteristics they would use to define “good” and “bad” and the next step to design the machine to do sort the fruit based on these characteristics. It was interesting to see the way in which the different groups had approached the tasks and watch the various robots at work, and it was touching to see a Stephen Hawking quotation on the wall as a link back to Cambridge.

During the remainder of the trip we met with alumni across three different countries. It was the first time the Master had attended an event in Kuala Lumpur and we are very grateful to Dato Dr Dennis Ganendra (1984) and Datin Shalini Amerasinghe-Ganendra (1984) for hosting the dinner at their home. The Master was also able to speak at the Oxford & Cambridge Society on “College cats and Cambridge eccentricities”, with thanks to Yuh Yng Chook (1993).

We then headed to Singapore for dinner at the cricket club – in the middle of the Grand Prix circuit being set up! We were delighted to have 41 alumni from across six decades attend and we are grateful to Chris Gee (2003) for his help in organising the event.

In Hong Kong, as well as meeting with representatives of the Philomathia Foundation and WYNG Foundation, both long term supporters of Trinity Hall and the University, we were delighted to see alumni at a drinks reception arranged by Gail Southward (1988).