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Steve Ko - KAIST

Steve's IB Story

Steve graduated from The British International School, Ho Chi Minh City with an almost perfect score in his IB Diploma. Securing 44 points, this placed him in the top 1% of students worldwide, allowing him to pursue his ambition of attending South Korea’s public research university KAIST.

Having lived internationally in Bangkok, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and finally Ho Chi Minh City, Steve felt he didn’t have a place he could call ‘home’. This changed when he started at BIS HCMC. Steve started his education here in 2009 when he was still in Primary School and remained with us for 7 years until he graduated in 2017. Steve's time at the school consisted of many fond memories from; his leadership role as Deputy Head Boy, being admitted to the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy after his participation in the F1 in Schools Competition and of course the realisation that his IB diploma score of 44 points puts him 14 points above the global average and in the top 1% of students worldwide. Each of these elements have amounted to him pursuing his tertiary education at KAIST in South Korea with the ambition of moving to the UK or USA in the future to complete a graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering. Here’s Steve’s story…

What are your favourite memories of BIS HCMC?

Having been born in Thailand, and living in South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam, I don’t have a single place I can call ‘home’. However, I can proudly and most definitively say that BIS has helped me identify and build my own self-identity.

In BIS HCMC, I was able to meet hundreds of students, each one of them with his or her own unique backgrounds like my own. The annual ‘International Day’ event, has never failed to shock me with BIS’s variety. Years 7 to 9, I can never forget meeting and having fun with friends every day. During lunches, we always went to the Underground to eat and play games.

IGCSE was when I started to seriously consider my future. Back then, I had a deep interest in Geography and History. As a result, I selected those two subjects as my IGCSE options. However, throughout IGCSE, I began to realise how Science and Maths fit with me more. So for me, IGCSE wasn’t a period of serious decision-making but more a period of realising what I want to do in the future. At the end of IGCSE I was confident enough to change thoughts about my future and select Maths, Physics and Chemistry HL for the IB diploma programme.

I can never forget my last 2 years of BIS HCMC. I always envied the Sixth Form having the privilege of using the Common Room and when I actually received that privilege, I tried to use it to its fullest. When I had to stay back in school to finish up my IAs or other activities like F1 in Schools, I always cooked instant noodles to endure through IB.

All these memories make the school somewhere unforgettable and cherishable. 

Gradation - Steve Ko

How did you find the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB diploma is renowned for being a challenging course. However, it is not the contents and the materials within the syllabus of the IB diploma that makes it difficult. Rather, the workload that the IB Diploma requires makes the programme very demanding. During my 2 years of IB, I went through a series of IAs, exams, EE drafts and so on. On top of that I had the extra-curriculum commitments as Deputy Head Boy, Team Manager of the F1 in Schools team and I was also a member of a baseball team outside of school. To survive through IB, one really has to juggle through many commitments.

At the end of the day, BIS carries a meaning bigger than just a ‘school’ to me.

How did you feel when you finally received your IB Diploma results?

I was really satisfied with my overall IB Diploma results. I was especially happy when I found out that I got a 7 in a subject that I was really worried about. It was well worth the trouble of studying and learning desperately for that subject before the exam.

However, it was also regrettable that I couldn’t get a better result in EE, which I spent hours collecting and analysing primary data for. However, I learned about the essence of research and my future career path during the process of writing my extended essay. I also realised that I have something to improve on during my undergraduate programme. 

Graduation - Steve Ko

What were your biggest achievements during your time at the school?

If I had to choose one single biggest achievement during my time at the school, I would pick my participation in the F1 in Schools World Finals. With a year-long preparation period, Doppler Racing (BIS HCMC F1 in Schools team) were able to participate in the F1 in Schools World Finals held in Texas, USA. For this competition, I had the unique experience of self-learning CAD, CFD and CAM programs as well as handling 3D printers, CNC routers, and laser cutters.

During the competition, I was able to use the CAD skills that I self-taught to win second place in the Autodesk Fusion 360 challenge and receive a 3D printer as a prize (I believe this is still in BIS HCMC). I was also selected as one of only nine students to be admitted to the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy, run by the Williams F1 team. 

Williams Engineering - Steve Ko

Tell us more about the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy…

During the F1 in Schools World Finals, out of over 100 participants in the competition, 25 students were selected to go through to the group interview for admission into the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy. During this stage, we made stable bridges and answered F1-related engineering questions from real engineers and HR staff of the Williams F1 team.

9 students were selected to be admitted to the Academy which was announced during the award ceremony at the last day of the competition. When the names were called out, I was really nervous. I was actually the last one to be called and the sensation was unreal!

This programme consists of F1 specific engineering courses for four years, mentored by current F1 engineers in the Williams F1 team. This is a competitive scheme where each year, one or two students are dropped from the program. Just last month I received great news that I will be moving up to the second year in this academy program. At the end of four years, students who still remain on the course are offered an internship opportunity in the team.

What would you say to your teachers who supported you throughout your education at BIS HCMC?

During my 7 years at BIS HCMC, I met great teachers who have inspired me in many different ways. Whether that was by introducing the depths of the subject they taught or by guiding and offering advice while I wrote EEs or designing F1 cars.

I will always be grateful to my teachers who have inspired me throughout my life at BIS HCMC as they helped me shape my own self-identity.

Having been born in Thailand, and living in South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam, I don’t have a single place I can call ‘home’. However, I can proudly and most definitively say that BIS has helped me identify and build my own self-identity.

What are your goals for the future?

All Koreans have to undertake national service for more than 18 months. For now, I haven’t decided when I will start my national service but my medium term goal is to successfully finish this and resume my studies without any problems.

Looking forward, I want to finish my undergraduate course in KAIST and start my graduate degree in the UK or the USA. With better research facilities, I would like to further my understanding in Aerospace Engineering in terms of fluid dynamics and control.

Beach - Steve Ko

In what ways do you think your education at BIS HCMC prepared you for your future?

I cherish all the memories I made with everyone at BIS HCMC. It not only helped me define who I am but also allowed me to think about my future. At the end of the day, BIS carries a meaning bigger than just a ‘school’ to me.

Steve Ko, Class of 2017

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IB Diploma Results 2017 | BIS HCMC

IB Diploma Results 2017

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