Risma’s Tech Journey from Indonesia-Malaysia Border

A Story of Muhammad Risma, Bangkit 2023 Batch 1 Graduate from Information Technology, President University
“According to Education and Culture Ministry (Kemendikbud) data, 51% of early education to middle school students living in the outermost, border and disadvantaged (3T) areas do not have a reliable internet connection.” — Jakarta Post (2020)
According to the same data, only 27,8% of students in the 3T (remote and underdeveloped) region said they had access to a laptop or computer. Still, the devices could have been more reliable. Muhammad Risma (21), a young boy from the 3T region, also felt this.

Hailing from Kabupaten Kapuas Hulu, a remote district in Kalimantan Barat bordering Malaysia, Risma grew up amidst the limitations of a 3T region. Yet, despite the challenges, he nurtured a deep fascination for tech, a passion that would shape his future.

In 2023, he joined Bangkit to hone his skills and provided Risma with the tools and mentorship he needed to transform his ideas into reality. He co-founded SkinCheck.AI, an AI-powered skin detection app, which earned USD 10,000 or Rp140 million in funding from Google and Dikti.

The story below proves anything is possible, including for a young boy from the 3T region to shine in the tech industry.

Born and Growing in 3T Region

Risma is the youngest of three siblings. His family, all educators themselves, provided him with unwavering support. Their encouragement and belief in his abilities fueled his determination to pursue a career in Computer Science, which held immense promise for him.
“My parents and siblings are all teachers. So, I veered off a bit into Computer Science. Thankfully, I have a supportive family who fully backs my career choice as long as I stay committed to my passion.”
However, financial constraints posed a significant challenge. Risma’s parents, despite being dedicated teachers and government employees, had to work extra jobs to make ends meet. Witnessing their sacrifices, Risma had a strong sense of responsibility and determination to succeed.

A pivotal moment in Risma’s journey came in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to stay home from school. During this time, he stumbled upon technology-related content on TikTok, opening his eyes to a world of possibilities beyond his small-town surroundings.
“I realized that I was like a frog in a well. I knew nothing about the outside world. That's when I became interested in technology,” reflects him.
This newfound fascination led Risma to pursue a Computer Science degree outside of Kalimantan, recognizing his hometown’s limited IT education opportunities. We know that the 3T regions also have limited internet access. The network does not even cover some of them.
“I wanted to be an IT practitioner and use my knowledge to help others. So, I chose to leave Kalimantan and pursue my dreams in Java.”

Joined Bangkit and Got Rp140 Million Incubation Fund

Defying the odds, Risma secured a place at the prestigious President University, majoring in Information Technology. His academic brilliance shone through as he consistently maintained a perfect GPA of 3,90. But still, he yearned for opportunities to hone his technical skills and prepare him for the competitive global tech industry.
“During this quest for my growth, I decided to sign up to Bangkit.”
Risma’s introduction to Bangkit came during his final year of high school, just before the SBMPTN (national university entrance) exam. Scrolling through TikTok, he stumbled upon a video about Bangkit, and his curiosity was piqued.
“I was immediately drawn to the opportunity to learn from industry experts at companies like GoTo, Tokopedia, and Traveloka. And the fact that the program was fully supported by Google, a company with a global reputation, was a huge plus.”
The prospect of earning an international certification like TensorFlow Developer (TFD) further fueled Risma’s interest. With a growing passion for data science beyond web development, he opted for the Machine Learning path.

Embarking on the Bangkit journey, Risma quickly discovered that the program’s intensity far exceeded that of his university classes. The demanding 8-hour daily schedule accelerated his learning, transforming him into a “fast learner.”
“I knew nothing about machine learning before Bangkit, but I was eager to learn everything I could, from regression to image classification, computer vision, NLP, and time series.”
Bangkit’s rigorous curriculum and his peers’ vast knowledge humbled Risma. Yet, it also ignited his determination to excel. Balancing Bangkit with his university classes proved challenging, leading to a particularly stressful situation when a midterm exam coincided with a Bangkit deadline.

The Capstone Project culminated Risma’s experience at Bangkit, providing a platform to apply his acquired skills and knowledge. Collaborating with his teammates, Risma delved into the intricacies of teamwork and communication.
“Bangkit taught me the importance of respecting diverse perspectives and collaborating effectively. We learned to work together to create a real-world project, not just focusing on technical skills but also developing soft skills,” he emphasizes
With his team, Risma developed SkinCheck.AI, a mobile application that uses AI and expert validation to analyze skin concerns and recommend personalized skincare solutions. This innovation led Risma’s team to get incubation funds from Google and Dikti.
“The most memorable moment was when I received the incubation call,” Risma recounts, “I called my parents and cried.”

When Risma Applying “Ikigai” to His Career

Currently working at the Ministry of Finance of Indonesia (Kemenkeu) under the internship program from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology (MSIB), Risma’s journey reflects his perseverance and adaptability. Initially facing rejections from 22 companies during the 5th MSIB, he remained determined and secured an internship in the 6th MSIB.

His internship at Kemenkeu has allowed him to apply his skills in a real-world setting. As a Data Scientist, he is developing a personalized chatbot using a large language model (LLM) to enhance user experience and streamline information access.
“The chatbot is designed to be deployed on WhatsApp, recognizing the platform’s widespread usage and accessibility. So, users can interact with the chatbot to ask questions, track document progress, and receive personalized responses,” he explains.
Reflecting on his journey to give back to the community, Risma remembered one of Japanese philosophies called Ikigai: a concept that aligns one’s passions, skills, societal needs, and financial viability. Risma not only works with purpose but also shares his knowledge with others.
“I realized that my purpose lies in working in IT and sharing my knowledge with others. Ultimately, our knowledge gains value when we share it with others.”
This passion led Risma to a mentorship role at Bangkit, where he guides and supports cohorts in the ML39 class in their learning journey. His Bangkit experience has shaped his approach to mentorship, emphasizing the importance of maximizing the opportunities offered by the program.

3 Tips to Earn TensorFlow Developer Certification

Risma’s experience in Bangkit has extended far beyond the program’s duration. The knowledge he gained has directly impacted his internship and even his final-year university project.
“My final year project utilizes the machine learning concepts I learned in Bangkit. And my Bangkit experience gave me an edge in collaborating with my teammates, who are also Bangkit alumni.”
As part of the team, Risma focuses on machine learning. He created two impressive AI models: one to detect eye diseases and another to determine cataract severity. The goal is to help those facing financial or other limitations get diagnoses for eye problems with just an app.

He gained skills and experience and earned TensorFlow Developer (TFD) certification. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to take the TensorFlow Developer certification exam, which usually costs USD100, for free, from Bangkit.

When he became a guest speaker at a Google certification event on YouTube, he further demonstrated his expertise and willingness to share his knowledge with others. In fact, he successfully passed the exam on his first attempt. Here are three tips from him:

#1 Learn from Practice Exams

“Utilize resources like Dicoding’s TensorFlow Developer simulation to practice and understand exam format.”

#2 Deepen Your Understanding

“Dedicate time (1-2 weeks) to review concepts and re-run simulations thoroughly.”

#3 Focus during Practice

“Focus on practically applying the learned concepts during practice, as it closely mirrors the actual TFD exam questions.”

To end the interview, Risma advises current and future Bangkit participants on his experience making the most of the program. He encourages them to seize opportunities, from networking and mentorship to capstone projects and entrepreneurial endeavors.
“Remember, Bangkit give you a privilege to learning, growing, and connecting with like-minded individuals. The knowledge and opportunities you gain here can open doors to a fulfilling career and positive impact on the world.”

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