Congratulations to Lysandra Koon Sue Ann for winning the national level of Amazon Web Services (AWS) Deep Racer Women’s League. She emerged as the champion in the Malaysian league and was awarded prizes worth USD 300. The league consisted of virtual races across five cities in the ASEAN region. Lysandra beat off competitions from over 200 participants, including over 30 students from Malaysia. After being selected as one of the top 3 racers representing Malaysia, she participated in the grand finale, which was held at the end of Sept 2020, and emerged as the 1st runner up across the entire ASEAN region. She was awarded prizes worth USD 500.
AWS aims to help female students across the region to develop machine learning (ML) skills which in turn, encourages diversity in the technology industry. During the virtual races, participants will race their cars in a virtual simulator environment in real-time, with the ability to adjust the speed of the car during the race, as well as to swap between Deep Racer builds.
Lysandra, a final year student majoring in Bachelor of Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering (Honours) explained that she almost missed the competition due to academic commitments. She only had 3 days to come up with a model for the Malaysian League as she had to submit her final year project prior to that.
She is still pretty surprised, but grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and succeed in both the Malaysian and ASEAN League. According to her, there were times when her model did not improve over time and she had to change the codes to have different sets of reward functions. However, the videos and tutorials that were made available via AWS Educate had made her learning experience “more enjoyable and less scary”.
Speaking of her experience, Lysandra said “During the competition, I also got the chance to e-meet other contestants. Everyone was willing to share with one another on how we trained our models for the competition. We were also ready to lend a helping hand whenever needed even though we were all competitors. There was a spirit of togetherness”.
She added that the AWS Deep Racer was promoted to her, when she participated in the AWS Hackdays 2020 event. She signed up, because she was curious about AWS Deep Racer. She thought it would be a good start to learn more about Reinforcement Learning (RL). She was exposed to the topic briefly in one of the electives she took and by participating in this competition she got to expand her knowledge on this area of Machine Learning.
As a word of advice to encourage other students, Lysandra said, “Be curious, never stop learning and do not be afraid to try something that is relatively new to you. There are plenty of resources and people that can help you propel forward in your field of interest “.
Once again congratulations and thank you for making us proud of your achievements!