DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore
Feature | Digipen

Ready Player One

DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore
The first global institution to offer degree programs in game programming and computer science, DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore established a regional presence in Singapore to meet the exponential demand and market in Southeast Asia.

Meet Chong Zi Yi, 26, a graduate from DigiPen (Singapore) with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation. Currently at nuTonomy, which conducts research on autonomous cars, he shares how DigiPen (Singapore) contributed to his success in his career and the highlights from his undergraduate experience.

The Leader in Game Development

With the Singapore government’s vision of transforming the island into a “Global Digital Studio,” the city-state was chosen as DigiPen’s first international campus. DigiPen Institute of Technology was the world’s first college to offer a bachelor’s degree focused on video game technology and development and has since expanded their degree program offerings into related technology fields. DigiPen (Singapore) has always strived to be ahead of its peers and not simply another run-of-the-mill school.

Zi Yi conducted research on DigiPen (Singapore) and discovered its mission and vision before deciding on the institution. “It stood out distinctly from other academic colleges because it offered a more practical track – where students could work on honing skills through multiple projects. Students would be tasked with designing at least one project every semester, which would usually be a game they have to build from scratch. Since other universities do not offer that many practical projects, I can attest that DigiPen (Singapore) offered more learning opportunities,” he muses.

Besides this, he elaborates that DigiPen (Singapore) focuses on performance-oriented goals, as it understands that in order to succeed in today’s digital landscape, one must deliver unique and engaging interactive experiences to audiences. “Apart from thoroughly comprehending how to build software and what makes it click, a lot also depends on the deep and fundamental understanding of the complex relationship between user and experience. The idea is to approach the creation in a more intuitive manner by trying to simulate those senses online, which in turn supports real-life application,” he says.

Chong Zi Yi

Chong Zi Yi
Software Engineer

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-time Interactive Simulation
DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore

“DigiPen (Singapore) focuses on performance-oriented goals, as it understands that in order to succeed in today’s digital landscape, one must deliver unique and engaging interactive experiences to audiences.”

Levelling Up in His Career

His role as a software engineer involves working on improving car safety via autonomous vehicle simulations. Zi Yi attributes his current success to both the hard and soft skills he acquired at DigiPen (Singapore). “The technical aspect of my education has left a huge impact in my mind. At my job, when we see something that should be working properly but it is not, we are faced with a big question of which parts need to be looked at. That is where intuition plays a major role, which is something I honed at DigiPen (Singapore),” he described.

One of the highlights of his curriculum was learning the nuts and bolts of designing, since it was not his forte. He had to learn everything from scratch, for instance linear algebra and C++. It has paid off heavily, however, as he has been using what he knows and applying it to developing cutting-edge software to improve car safety at nuTonomy. His ability to believe in his skills and talent is solely due to the quality of the DigiPen (Singapore) curriculum, he muses, and he attributes his self-assuredness and confidence to the skills taught.

Ready for Level Two

Before he graduated, he envisioned himself working at game-oriented companies and putting his learning to good use. In working at nuTonomy, however, he got more than he had imagined, since his role allows him to see real-life applications of his work. He now considers his current job his proudest achievement and a great outcome of his education. “I view simulations as necessary in this day and age when technology has practically taken over all aspects of our lives. Minimal risks should be taken in the real world, which is why extensive testing is done in simulations,” he chimes.

nuTonomy has offered Zi Yi excellent opportunities since he joined, such as allowing him and his fellow employees to go overseas to learn more. He has visited Boston and Miami, and hopes to go to other places as well, while continuing to accumulate more knowledge.

He would like to see others follow in his footsteps, he says. “Those who wish to have a similar career can safely join DigiPen (Singapore) and emerge a motivated and determined individual at the time of your graduation,” he says. “There are a lot of diverse aspects that will greatly benefit you in your career and future prospects.”