Meet the FUTMinna teams that won the 2024 Huawei ICT Competition in China

Ejike Kanife
The teams from FUTMinna were able to overcome great limitations to win the competition
Meet the FUT Minna teams that won the 2024 Huawei ICT Competition in China

Two teams from the Federal University of Technology Minna (FUTMinna) have won the 2024 edition of the Huawei ICT Competition held on Thursday, May 23 in Shangri-La, China. The competition featured 120,000 students from 2,000 universities across 74 countries.

The two teams that represented Nigeria in the Networking Track (category) of the competition were named Team One and Team Two.

Team one include Jamiu Dahunsi, a recent graduate of Telecommunications Engineering, Justus Ilegieuno, a 400-level Computer Engineering student and Toye Yusuf, a 400-level Mechanical Engineering student. The team’s instructor was Dr Bala Salihu, the Director of the Information Technology Society (ITS) at FUTMinna.

Team two included Taiye Ahmad, a recent graduate of Electrical Electronics Engineering, Kaosar Salaudeen, another recent graduate of Telecommunications Engineering and Victor Ogundele, a 500-level student of Electrical Electronics Engineering. Their instructor wass Mr Knimi Musa.

Meet the FUT Minna teams that won the 2024 Huawei ICT Competition in China

Speaking with this reporter, one of the team members, Victor Ogundele said that winning the competition is huge for the school because this will be the first time students from FUTMinna participated in the competition and they emerged with multiple prizes.

One thing we always understood is that we didn’t do it for ourselves. So we have made a way for the other ones behind us, not just in the school but even down to our families. We have opened that door so that other people can come through it,” he said.

For winning, they were awarded gadgets worth 24,000 Chinese Yuan (4.5 million naira) as well as internship opportunities with Huawei.

FUTMinna: The Road to China

While the teams achieved global recognition this May, the win was a product of months of hard work which began in October 2023.

Victor told me that before the competition, the team members were just students engaged in their regular academic activities. However, the Huawei road show/campus tour in October 2023 marked a turning point for them.

Some of us had already taken certification courses at the Huawei ICT academy here and had some basic experience and understanding. For some of us, it was new as we were just focused on schoolwork alone. I already started volunteering at the (NITDA) hub, and searchFM which is our campus radio and TV. So I had technical skills, media, and production skills. Huawei has actually been coming in the previous years but we have always failed to qualify at the national stage,” Victor said.

The roadshow provided an opportunity to apply for the competition and take a preliminary/entry exam. The preliminary exam was the first of four stages. The others are the national, regional, and global stages.

As it turned out, nine students from the university made it through to the nationals and this shared win brought them together as they began studying together at the NITDA hub and becoming quite close.

Meet the FUT Minna teams that won the 2024 Huawei ICT Competition in China
The preliminary exams

The national exams, like the preliminary, were taken online at the NITDA hub with the students being monitored through live screen recording. It took place in November 2023 and lasted for about 1hr 30 minutes. It was a theory response format with 60 questions.

A major difference between the exams was in the difficulty levels. The preliminaries had Huawei Certification associate-level questions. The nationals were professional level exams while the regionals had the expert level questions which is the highest certification.

The nine FUT Minna students that scaled through the national level went to Abuja to receive prizes from the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani.

Following their success at the national level, they were directed to form teams of three members each which would compete at the regionals. Four Nigerian teams made it to the regionals from Nigeria to compete with teams from other African countries. Of these, three were from FUTMinna while the last was from the University of Port Harcourt.

At the regionals, they were given a 4-hour lab test. Since the network category differs from the innovation category, they were tested based on their ability to connect components.

The test comprised mostly scenarios, for example, a bank in Lagos, and another one may be in the US, these banks have branches scattered across the world with transactions taking place. A team may be asked to deploy certain technologies to enhance the networking and interconnectedness among them. In networking, you must ensure speed, reliability, security, and then access. These are the qualities that our work will be judged on,” Victor explained.

There are many such tasks to be completed because the regionals consist of 54-page material for a four-hour exam with a lot of scenarios provided.

That is the toughest exam all of us had ever written. When we came out of that exam none of us were smiling. We just trusted ourselves and hoped for the best believing that we had done all we could,” Victor said of the regional exam.

Eventually, two teams from FUTMinna emerged victorious at the regionals and moved on to the global competition held in Shangri La, China. Sadly, the third team failed to make it past this stage. This was also the case of the last Nigerian team from the University of Port Harcourt.

Meet the FUT Minna teams that won the 2024 Huawei ICT Competition in China
The teams after the national competition

In all, six teams from Africa made it to the global showpiece to compete with others from the rest of the world.

The global contest and what next

The global exam was eight hours long, starting around 9:30 am and ending at 5:30 pm.

The idea was not for the teams to finish all the tasks but to carry out as many tasks as possible. Ultimately, the FUT Minna teams representing Nigeria won three first prizes across network and innovation (computing and cloud) categories and won two grand prizes.

Victor noted that the teams were limited by the fact that nobody from the school had done this before. Hence, they had no experience to draw from. This was unlike most schools they competed against with students who had participated in similar events.

Meet the FUT Minna teams that won the 2024 Huawei ICT Competition in China

Victor told me that they had to study harder to compensate for the lack:

We did a lot of boot camps in preparation. After our normal school lectures, we have little time to rest before returning to the NITDA IT hub by 8 pm. We would then study throughout the night till the next morning when we had to return to our hostels and prepare for lectures. Some of us have projects, seminars, IT, and exams. It was not easy but we found a way to combine all of them,” he said.

He thanked his school’s ITS director and instructors for seeking their physical and mental well-being and granting them free access to the NITDA IT hub to work.

Speaking on what’s next, while admitting that he does not know what the future holds, Victor expressed optimism that if the team members keep up with this pace and level of exposure, the future holds a lot for them.

“The win will give the team an edge and upper hand. There are places we will want to go to and some things we will want to do that would probably come easier because of the recognition this win has given us,” he said.

See also: Meet Ravebeta, the cybersecurity startup redefining cyber protection with a 95% customer satisfaction rate

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