Taylor's University Launches DuckiePi Computer Lab With Free Workshops For The Community

Youths and budding entrepreneurs from B40 communities can pick up digital skills, like designing on Canva.

Cover image via Taylor's University (Provided to SAYS)

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Taylor's University recently launched a computer lab to benefit communities around PPR Lembah Subang 1 and 2

Located at NZX Commercial Centre, the DuckiePi Computer Lab is the result of the collaboration between Taylor's University and Persatuan Integrasi Usahawan Selangor (PIUS), who helps operate the lab.

The lab is equipped with DuckiePi devices that function like mini computers. Thus, they provide pathways for children and budding entrepreneurs from the B40 community to access online classes or resources, as well as take part in digital literacy programmes conducted by Me.reka Belia. 

These free programmes provide web and digital skills to participants, such as learning software like Canva and gaining access to online business opportunities.

Me.reka Belia is a flagship programme under Taylor's Me.reka Makerspace, a collaborative learning hub situated in the university. And thanks to PIUS administer, Noraishah Osman, who played an integral role in securing the location for the lab, the DuckiePi devices are being put to good use.

The lab features 10 DuckiePi devices, a compact e-learning computer built by students from Taylor's University

The DuckiePi device is powered by a Raspberry Pi computer microchip, and is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Image via Taylor's University (Provided to SAYS)

A part of Taylor's Me.reka Makerspace project, these devices were developed by students and alumni — Bernard Yap Kah Huan, Ong Wea Hung, Ang Jia Hui Jasper, and Norman Heng Chon Sheng — from the mechanical engineering, IT, as well as computer science faculties in the university.

Powered by the Raspberry Pi computer chip, the DuckiePi device is browser-based, and enables students to access applications like Zoom and Google suites with mic and camera functions.

According to co-director of Taylor's Me.reka Makerspace, William Koong, DuckiePi emerged as a result of the team's passion for making, as well as desire to help people in need

Co-director of Taylor's Me.reka Makerspace, William Koong, talks about how the DuckiePi was made and its uses.

Image via Taylor's University (Provided to SAYS)

In fact, Koong said DuckiePi was born out of a challenge — how to create affordable e-learning devices for people who need them.

To achieve this goal, they turned to the open source community for inspiration. "So, the open source community is a very interesting community of makers, people who like to make things... but these people, apart from making, they also like sharing. Instead of copy right, you copy left — that means, you open up [the knowledge]," said Koong.

"It's free. You don't have to pay IP (intellectual property), you don't have to pay some rich man or company just to give something to the poor. So, that's the whole backbone behind the team that created or innovated this DuckiePi."

The launch of this new lab is part of the university's efforts to bridge the digital and education divide among B40 communities

According to Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya, Maria Chin Abdullah, the education gap is a cause for concern. Referring to the two years of movement control, she said that the country's school-going children have become a "lost generation."

"I don't know if people take this seriously, but we have lost two years of education, especially for our young [in] primary school. If you look at Lembah Subang, quite a lot of them have dropped out of school," said Maria, who was present at the launch on 17 December.

"They have gone into either business or other kinds of activities, which is a pity... our school enrolment rate, in terms of achievement, has been pretty good because at the primary level we were actually at 98%. At the tertiary level, we are quite high. But now, because of the MCO, the rates have dropped.

Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya, Maria Chin Abdullah (centre) visiting the DuckiePi Computer Lab during the launch.

Image via Taylor's University (Provided to SAYS)

"It is important that education is accessible for everyone, especially for these children who are behind in their studies due to the pandemic situation. These devices empower the children and provide them with opportunities to attain knowledge and to ensure the learning never stops," Maria added.

Members of the community, like F&B owner Anis Kamalia, have benefited from the DuckiePi Computer Lab

Anis runs a food business that operates via online platforms, and decided to attend one of the programmes after realising the importance of upskilling.

"I found the modules very useful especially regarding operating online businesses, developing content, and Google keywords," said Anis Kamalia. "The DuckiePi Computer Lab really helps the community here because many of us only have phones — hence the lab is a useful resource for school work or even for our own business ventures."

So far, Taylor's University has donated 158 DuckiePi devices to underprivileged communities across the country

On top of the DuckiePi Computer Lab, devices have been donated to families in PPR Lembah Subang, school children and teachers in the rural school of SK Long Sukang in Lawas, Sarawak, as well as families across Malaysia through various NGOs.

Each DuckiePi device given out to deserving communities comes with a monitor, webcam, keyboard, mouse, as well as a converter cable that plugs into any smart TV or computer monitor. 

Meanwhile, Taylor's Me.reka Makerspace is also encouraging you to join them in making education more accessible for all Malaysians

The DuckiePi device is currently retailing at RM500 each, with profits going towards building more devices for the community. Malaysians can donate to support the production of these devices here.

Check out Taylor's University's website for more information about DuckiePi and how you can help

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