Smart Nation Scholarship
Feature | Smart Nation Scholarship

Tech Nation

The Smart Nation Scholarship is for those with a passion for tech and a heart for the public good.
Smart Nation Scholarship

Left: Lee Penn Han is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Computing in Computer Science at NUS. Upon graduation, he will embark on the two-year Associate in Infocomm Media (AIM) Graduate Programme with IMDA, and looks forward to help SMEs reap the benefits of technological adoption.

Middle: Goh Jia Yi is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics at NUS. After she graduates, she will join GovTech’s Technology Associate Programme (TAP), a two-year exclusive leadership-trainee programme designed to sharpen and develop participants’ technical knowledge and professional skills.

Right: Ryan Kwok is looking forward to studying for his Bachelor of Computing in Computer Science at NUS. He is currently on internship with CSA’s Cybersecurity Programme Centre (CSPC). Upon his graduation, he will be joining CSA’s Cybersecurity Development Programme (CSDP), to fast track his career in cybersecurity.

Singapore is a country driven by technology – and no scholarship embodies this better than the Smart Nation Scholarship. For those keen to push the envelope of technology and use it to improve the lives of people, the scholarship offers you an opportunity for a fulfilling career in this exciting sector.

We spoke to three scholarship recipients, each of whom is attached to one of the sponsoring agencies. Ryan Kwok is currently on an internship with Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA)’s Cybersecurity Programme Centre (CSPC); Goh Jia Yi is currently interning at GovTech’s Sensors & Internet of Things (SIoT) Division; and Lee Penn Han will be joining Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s Associate in Infocomm Media (AIM) Graduate Development Programme upon graduation.

While their areas of expertise and interest may differ, they all work to grasp a common dream – making Singapore into a Smart Nation powered by digital transformation and innovation.

Jia Yi

Jia Yi with her basketball teammates and team manager in her first year of university.

Jia Yi and Penn Han, you both have been interested in technology from a young age. How did this interest come about?

Jia Yi: I was exposed to coding and computer games from a young age, and started dabbling in making blog skins using HTML and CSS. I found it fascinating that lines of code could generate such colourful visuals. That got me wondering, what else can these codes do for us? At that moment, I knew that technology was the path I wanted to follow to learn more about programming and its functionalities.

Penn Han: I was first widely exposed to technology in Maris Stella High School, where there were various lessons that adopted the use of technology to provide different ways of learning. There were lessons that required us to use media editing applications such as Garage Band and iMovie to create media content, SketchUp to create 3D infrastructure models, as well as the usage of Interactive Whiteboards. Through these interactions, I became aware of the potential for technology to enhance one’s ability to gain knowledge and present ideas.

In Ryan’s case, you were inspired by the TV show, “Mr. Robot”. How did that lead to your interest in cybersecurity?

Ryan: In Mr. Robot, the main character is a cybersecurity engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night. The show made hacking look cool, spurring me to explore the world of cybersecurity further.

I started looking into cybersecurity and found Cybrary, an online platform with free cybersecurity training. The more I learned, the more I wanted to find out. I’ve attended courses about blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning. My personal exploration culminated in my completion of the Certified Ethical Hacker course!

Penn Hann

Penn Hann competing in Softball, at the Inter-Hall Games. Photo by Media Committee of Sheares Hall.

Why did each of you apply for the Smart Nation Scholarship?

Penn Han: As a student who has had some servant leadership positions in school and exposure to technology, I felt that I was aligned to serve in the public service. I chose to work in Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) upon graduation because it is the only agency that could offer me the breadth and depth of work in the infocomm media space.

Jia Yi: I have always dreamed of creating tech products to bring convenience to other people’s lives since childhood. When I was learning more about the different agencies, I found out that GovTech focuses on building tech solutions to improve the lives of Singaporeans which was very similar to my personal goal. Being a Smart Nation Scholar with GovTech allows me to push Singapore towards a Smart Nation with unyielding support.

Ryan: With this scholarship, I can develop my career at CSA. It will allow me to work in the cybersecurity sector, and contribute to a cause much larger than myself. As Smart Nation scholars, we get to join one of CSA’s departments that specialises in areas such as cyber threat monitoring, incident response or penetration testing. We will also work on national projects and play a part in enhancing Singapore’s cybersecurity capabilities, while developing our skillsets through training and networking opportunities with cybersecurity experts. After two years, we have the opportunity to rotate to another department, to increase our exposure to the different cybersecurity dimensions. As Singapore transforms into a Smart Nation, I am thankful to be able to make a difference to the nation, while building on my passion.

Ryan, you interned with CSA. What is the work culture like?

Ryan: As an intern, I was part of the team creating the initial concept for a web app for CSA officers to submit their daily temperature status during the COVID-19 situation. I was also given the opportunity to learn how to conduct penetration testing on the web app as part of the system life cycle before it went live. In terms of work culture, CSA feels like a second home. The junior staff are like siblings and senior staff are our mentors. Everyone has a goal of helping each other grow and improve. I also like the office environment, as there are calming spaces for us to clear our minds when we are stuck at work or hit by any roadblocks.


Ryan sail racing at the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) Optimist North American Championship 2014. Photo by Matias Capizzano.

Jia Yi will join GovTech’s Technology Associate Programme (TAP), and Penn Han, you will join IMDA’s Associate in Infocomm Media (AIM) Graduate Development Programme after graduating from NUS. What benefits do these programmes have for scholars?

Jia Yi: TAP is a two-year leadership programme designed for fresh graduates to develop their technical competencies and professional skills. We will be exposed to working on Smart Nation projects, receive mentorship, and are encouraged to rotate across departments ranging from Data Science and Artificial Intelligence to Application Development. At the end of the programme, scholars can either choose to pursue the Technologist or the Technology Leader route.

Personally, I believe that GovTech will allow me to grow as a technology leader as I will gain a holistic perspective of different tech domains through different projects.

Penn Han: What drew me to IMDA was the multitude of job functions and its growing importance in the infocomm media ecosystem. As part of the AIM Graduate Programme, there will be rotations across functions to gain exposure, and learning opportunities including courses to beef up my competencies and mentorship to nurture me as a leader.

A few short words of advice for aspiring scholars, please.

Ryan: Never discount yourself. Wear your passion on your sleeve and most importantly, enjoy doing what you do.

Penn Han: Aspiring scholars must be certain that they are aligned to the mission of the organisation.

Jia Yi: For anyone who is still unsure of when or how to start your tech journey, the Smart Nation Scholarship is the perfect stepping-stone for you to discover your potential.