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iWhiz Grand Finals 2007: "If I Can Survive iWhiz, I Can Survive Anything!" Says Singapore's First iWhiz

It was 10 episodes of friendly teasing, some competitive hostility and even a hint of budding romance building in the air. By the end of Episode 9, only three competitors were left standing – Ms Olivia Chiu, 19, Mr Tay Kang Xun, 21 and Ms Fong Hui Fen, 18. With the teams dissolved, competitors faced in the final showdown. In the end, 19-year-old Olivia Chiu was named the winner of Singapore’s first infocomm reality game show.

Olivia Chiu, 19
Olivia Chiu, 19: With her
quick thinking, marketing
skills and aptitude for
infocomm, Olivia conquered
the competition to become
Singapore’s first iWhiz.
It was 10 episodes of friendly teasing, some competitive hostility and even a hint of budding romance building in the air. By the end of Episode 9, only three competitors were left standing – Ms Olivia Chiu, Mr Tay Kang Xun and Ms Fong Hui Fen. With the teams dissolved, competitors faced each other in the final showdown. In the end, 19-year-old Olivia Chiu was named the winner of Singapore’s first infocomm reality game show.

Olivia was initially very hesitant about entering the contest. “I had no real infocomm background, so it took me a lot of deliberation to finally go for it. I didn’t have any expectations at all about winning, except that I might learn something along the way, even if I got kicked out in the very first episode!” said the cheerful Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduate.

Olivia made constant effort to keep up with the other participants, many of whom were already studying programming and related subjects. “I think it was harder for me than the rest, but I did a lot of “homework” to catch up. For example, during the 3D animation challenge for Episode 9, I didn’t have much experience with animation so I did a lot of research beforehand and asked people for help,” said Olivia.

More Than Just Infocomm Skills

The reality game show called for more than just infocomm technology skills and knowledge; other abilities came into play as well. “I believe I am the most vocal of all the contestants and I wasn’t shy to ask questions. I also picked up skills and knowledge very quickly, which helped with challenges that I wasn’t familiar with,” said Olivia.

Creativity, quick thinking and adaptability were also important factors. In the very first episode, the three teams were tasked to create an online game for ladies, and Olivia came up with the idea for a Flash-based game for shopaholics. “Halfway through the game show, the teams were dissolved and we all had to switch groups. I got to know my new group quickly and things started moving again,” she recalled.

iWhiz Finalists Speak Up…
For the two other finalists, iWhiz wasn’t all about winning – participation had its own rewards as well. Here are some of Kang Xun's and Hui Fen's views and highlights from the reality game show.

In the end, her determination, persistence and hard work paid off. At the final showdown, Olivia put her marketing skills to good use together with her newly acquired infocomm knowledge during the final episode. It involved integrating the Heeren Shopping Centre’s Website with the nation-wide Wireless@SG network. The gutsy teenager managed to garner sponsorship from some of the stores. This surprised and impressed the judges, as she was the only contestant who had gotten some form of sponsorship.

Fond Memories

Despite the stress and long filming hours, Olivia had fond memories of the time spent during the show. "There were many highlights in the competition, like enduring a forfeit where my group had to run across a pond, and another where my group had to be mannequins for one of the shops in The Heeren (Shopping Centre). Those were truly memorable and totally hilarious experiences," said Olivia.

However, it wasn’t all fun and games; there were low points as well. “We faced challenges when work was not evenly distributed among group members and it put tremendous stress on the others. I wanted to give up, but my friends and parents encouraged me to go on,” Olivia remembered. “They had so much hope placed upon me, and I decided then that I wanted to do them proud.”

From working with teammates on the various challenges, Olivia also benefited with some valuable lessons, having learnt about friendship, working effectively as a team, and having fun despite all the stress. “If I can survive iWhiz, I can survive anything!” she quipped.

3 finalists
After 9 challenging episodes, 3 finalists emerge from
the 12 iWhiz participants – Tay Kang Xun, Olivia Chiu
and Fong Hui Fen.

Exciting Opportunities in Infocomm

iWhiz  – developed by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) in collaboration with the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), the Singapore Computer Society and the Singapore Science Centre – is aimed at educating and exciting youths and students about the world of infocomm and the opportunities available.

For Olivia, iWhiz provided learning opportunities beyond what school can offer. “I never thought that I could embark on an infocomm challenge ever in my life. Developing Web pages, coding and creating 3D models were simply beyond me. But now I can confidently say that I can do the things which I thought I couldn’t!”

The game show had also changed Olivia’s mindset that the infocomm industry was male-dominated. She said, “Upon interaction with many industry people during the show, I noticed that there were more females than I thought, and that women are also very much involved in infocomm.”

For Olivia, winning the iWhiz competition has cemented her aspirations to become part of the infocomm industry. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Information System Management at SMU and looks forward to joining the finance industry. “I feel that it’s not necessary to work strictly in the infocomm sector, as technology can be applied everywhere. If possible, I want to follow in my parent's footsteps and work in the banking industry, where it would be great to marry infocomm with finance.”

The Judges’ Standpoint

The finalists and judges
The finalists and judges of iWhiz gamely posed for a photo
moment together with the producer of the reality game show.

Mr K C Lee, Chairman of the Infocomm Manpower Council, was the Chief Judge at iWhiz. Here’s what he has to say about the finalists:

“The last four contestants coming into the final two challenges were all potential winners. In the end, the judges chose Olivia because she had the right mix of infocomm competencies, people skills and resourcefulness. She also out-lasted most of the others and had a strong finish in a gruelling 10-challenge race. To me, Olivia won not because she was the most technically gifted, but because she was able to adapt and make the most out of the available resources, including her teammates.”

“I must say the other two finalists are also worthy role models.  In the end, we had to pick only one winner, but all who contested in this tough challenge are a hero to me.  Overall, the contestants are good. “iWhiz is an experiment gone well. I know of a few young people who have decided to go into infocomm because of iWhiz.”