Miri Boy among winners in NASA Design Competition

Teng Wei Rui and his teacher. -Pix from

By Huzraifah Atikah

A Form One student from Miri has earned the recognition of America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) after being selected as one of the five winners of the International Mission Patch Design competition.

The NASA competition received about 10,000 designs, with only five being selected by NASA. Three are from the United States, one from Sri Lanka and one from Malaysia.

Thirteen year old Teng Wei Rui design was chosen alongside Ishhaq Ziyam (sixth grade) from Colombo, Sri Lanka; and from the United States, Neal Apte (third grade) from Palo Alto, California; Madison Morgan (eighth grade) from Lewiston, Idaho; and Paxton Summers (third grade) from Baltimore, Maryland.

Teng said he was very proud to have brought honour to the country, state and school.

As part of the award for winning the competition, Teng and his teacher had the honour of having a video conference call with top NASA scientist Dr Jitendra Joshi last Friday at SMA-TEGAS Digital Innovation Hub.

Jitendra, who is the integration lead for Advanced Exploration Systems and handles technology development in life support and habitation for several flight experiments, spoke to them from the US.

“The video conference with a NASA expert was good; I told him about my ambition to become an astronaut and asked him for advice,” Teng said.

His teacher Teo Yuang Teck from Realfun Learning Centre, a certified Blue Ribbon Educator by Tynker, said he felt great to see how much his student had achieved in a short period of time.

“This is a proud moment for us Mirians, Sarawakians and Malaysians to celebrate,” he said.

He added that Teng only joined the coding class in October last year and had always shown an interest in electronics, robotics and coding. 

“He took about two days to design this patch, and even hugged his laptop when he went to bed!” he said.

Teo said Teng’s win felt like a dream come true because his first design crashed due to his computer, causing all his work to disappear.

“He restarted the entire project but unfortunately, because he created it differently the second time, it didn’t qualify for submission,” Teo said.

But Teng did not give up and tried again for the third time, managing to submit his design in the nick of time on the last day of the submission. 

“As a teacher, I feel proud empowering children to make an impact to the world even when we are living in Miri. I hope more children will follow his footsteps and learn how to create things and applications themselves and put their name in the world,” he added.

In the meantime, it is learned that NASA experts are evaluating each finalist’s project based on originality, execution and effective use of code.

Tynker vice president of Educator Programmes Kaustav Mitra said each patch tells a unique story and impressed the judges in different ways.

“It was difficult to select our five winners. We are thrilled with the results and hope that this first challenge has inspired a new generation of kids to learn more about space missions, NASA and the impact they have on space exploration,” he said.

The Design A Mission Patch project is the first of three planned “Moon2Mars” coding challenges being released this year by Tynker in collaboration with NASA, taking students on journeys from earth to the moon and then on to Mars.

For this first challenge, students put themselves in an astronaut’s space boots and used Tynker to code patches for their imaginary spacesuits.

Since 1965, every mission to space has had its own design created by the astronauts.

The mission patch is a set of symbols, words and pictures that represent the work the astronauts will do during the mission and it tells the story of their journey.

Designing the mission patch is one of the very first things every new astronaut does.

For the Forward to the Moon Mission Patch Design Challenge, students were asked to imagine that they are an astronaut taking an incredible journey to the moon.

The next challenges will be released in September and October.

This is so inspiring for all the youngsters out there!

Well done and congratulations Teng Wei Rui.