Girl Innovator Award Winner: I want to use technology to address social issue

Sokuntevy Chhy is a co-founder of E-Lab which is a mobile application that provides explanation, introduction and videos to help students practice doing experiment themselves at home. At E-Lab, she is a website and app developer and content researcher. The experiments are based on Cambodia Education Systems from grade 7-12. There is also fun experience for the students who enjoy creative learning. The purpose of E-Lab is to help high school students who have difficulty in learning science subject to back to enjoy science in a fun and understandable way. She is a freshman majoring in software engineering at Kirirom Institute of Technology. Sokuntevy won the Girl Innovator Award of the Cambodian Women in Tech 2019, conducted by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Sokuntevy Chhy at the Digital Cambodia Gala Dinner in Phnom Penh on March 15, 2019

Q: Hello Tevy! Congratulation for the award! How do you feel?

Sokuntevy: I feel a bit nervous, but I am so excited to get this award.

Q: How did you get this award?

Sokuntevy: This award is not just only for me, but my entire team. We work on a mobile app to promote the participation of high school students in science and technology.

Q: When did you create this app?

Sokuntevy: We created this app when we studied in grade 12. We created this app for the Technovation Program. We are the National Pitch Winner. After the project ended, we continue working on the app. We share tasks to manage this app. I am a technical person. I develop the app and give the idea to the team. Other members do their tasks. We support each other to manage this app.

Q: Why did you guys want to create this app?

Sokuntevy: We wanted to challenge ourselves. We wanted to learn from the program [Technovation]. We faced the problem [of less participation of students in studying science and technology]. We wanted to have a solution. That’s why we created E-Lab.

Q: Was it difficult for you and your team?  

Sokuntevy: It was difficult for me. I didn’t know anything about technology at that time. I couldn’t do it without mentor’s and senior practitioner’s advice, self-study, and teamwork.

Q: What are the challenges?

Sokuntevy: Creating an app isn’t easy. I had to do a business plan. I had to compete with others. I haven’t been on the stage before so that I was so nervous. I did the survey for the competition. I also marketed it.

Q: Have you told you parents about what you are doing?

Sokuntevy: I worked on the app on Saturday and Sunday. They asked me where I went to. I understand them [that they worried about me]. I told them about what I was doing, but they didn’t understand. I told them again and again about it. They know what I am doing when they see my achievement.

Q: Have they asked you to stop doing it?

Sokuntevy: They asked me to stop doing it when I was in grade 12. They wanted me to focus on my study. When I was in grade 12, I joint Technovation. I volunteered and ran the events. I was so occupied on most Saturday and Sunday. They didn’t want me to do these things. They wanted me to study. I told them that I knew how to manage my time. I got a good grade for my grade 12 exam, and I was successful in what I was doing. They trust me now.

Sokuntevy Chhy presented at the Technovation program (photo provided by Sokuntevy Chhy)

Q: What did you like to do before doing this app?

Sokuntevy: Before I created this app, I liked science. But I didn’t know that I liked coding. I liked STEM, but I didn’t know how and where to start. I questioned myself whether I was qualified for it or not. I surely love it. I have fun while doing it. So, I decided to take part in coding.

Q: How did you know what you liked and what you wanted to study at the university?

Sokuntevy: I participated in events along the way. That’s why I was able to know that I liked coding. I want to use technology to address the social issue. So, I decided to study it.

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