Left: Ng Yoon Yik will be starting his pursuit of a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science at Nanyang Technological University in 2022. He will be embarking on a career at the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore upon graduation as a Smart Nation Scholar.
Middle: Leow Wen Bin is currently a Computer Science undergraduate at National University of Singapore. He is a Smart Nation Scholar under Government Technology Agency of Singapore.
Right: Yong Ming Yang is. pursuing a Bachelor of Computer Science at National University Singapore and a Smart Nation Scholar under Infocomm Media Development Authority.
The Smart Nation Scholarship is jointly offered by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to attract and nurture such talents. The scholarship provides recipients with the opportunity to carve out their own career pathway in applied technology for the public good.
Ng Yoon Yik, Leow Wen Bin and Yong Ming Yang are Smart Nation Scholars under the sponsorship of CSA, GovTech and IMDA respectively. They are looking forward not just to a tech career upon graduation, but also the opportunity to make serious waves in the digital realm.
We spoke with these young talents and got their thoughts on being Smart Nation Scholars as well as their career goals and aspirations.
How did each of you get interested in your respective fields of study?
Yoon Yik (Cybersecurity): I got interested in cybersecurity when I took part in a Capture-the-Flag competition. In this case, the flag was a digital one and competitors had to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in the system to get to the flag. The competition made me realise that cybersecurity is the perfect mesh of an exciting intellectual pursuit and an avenue to contribute to society.
Wen Bin (Computer Science): My previous school offered optional classes in Computer Science and it was some years back – when I was 14 years old - that I took my first class. Some of my friends were interested to try it out, so I went along with them to see what it was like. I quickly fell in love with the methodical nature of this subject, and I’ve never looked back since.
Ming Yang (Computer Science): Since I was young, I was privileged to have a computer at home that allowed me to surf the web which cultivated my interest in technology. I knew that I would want to be in a course that could impact many other fields. Hence, as I was already interested in technology, Computer Science was a natural choice of study for me.
What made you accept the Smart Nation Scholarship and embark on a career in public service?
Yoon Yik: The Smart Nation Scholarship was the best fit for me as I wanted to focus my career towards cybersecurity and help other Singaporeans through my expertise. Learning about the work at CSA as well as the broader Smart Nation Initiative gave me the impetus to apply for the scholarship. In particular, the work of the Incident Response Centre in CSA motivated me to want to join! With the Smart Nation Scholarship, I’ll be able to pursue my passion in cybersecurity and contribute to building a safer cyberspace for Singapore.
Wen Bin: Technology is meant to improve peoples’ lives and if we want to work on technology that helps as many people as possible, then joining the public sector and taking on the Smart Nation Scholarship are natural choices. Also, Singapore is currently making a massive push to be a Smart Nation. Taking on the Smart Nation Scholarship would allow me to be at the forefront of this initiative, giving me the opportunity to contribute to this mission.
Ming Yang: The Smart Nation Scholarship exposes me to various opportunities that would impact the masses. Furthermore, this scholarship has a focus on building a Smart Nation, which was something that I found particularly interesting. Apart from the financial benefits, the Smart Nation Scholarship provides plenty of resources and opportunities for me to be developed into a more well-rounded technology professional.
What do you look forward to the most when you start work with your respective agencies?
Yoon Yik: After graduating from university, I will be joining CSA’s Cybersecurity Development Programme (CSDP) where I will be trained to become a cybersecurity professional. I look forward to being attached to the National Cyber Incident Response Centre to help guard our cyberspace against malicious threat actors. I envision opportunities in both offensive security and defensive security, allowing me to pursue the many domains in cybersecurity from threat intelligence to penetration testing and even cybersecurity risk management.
I also want to strengthen Singapore’s cyber defences through safe adoption of new technologies and cybersecurity policy. In particular, I am interested in seeing how we can improve the integration of Artificial Intelligence to strengthen Security Operations Centre capabilities.
Wen Bin: It would have to be the opportunity to join the Technology Associate Programme! All GovTech scholars go through this programme during their first two years which exposes us to many key areas in the tech field, allowing us to gain invaluable experience. It is definitely a good way to kickstart my working life.
It is my dream to look at a product or service that everyone in Singapore depends on – like TraceTogether and PayNow – and be able to say, “Hey, I helped make this”. I hope to be able to achieve this in time to come at GovTech.
Ming Yang: One of the things that I look forward to the most would be to work with the different technology players in the industry. I believe that this would enable us to come up with solutions that would ultimately contribute towards Singapore’s goal of being a Smart Nation. I also look forward to the Associate in Infocomm & Media Graduate Development Programme in IMDA, where I would be given opportunities to be rotated to different divisions, gain exposure in cross-functional projects and receive mentorship.
Finally, what would you say to your juniors who are looking to take on the Smart Nation Scholarship?
Yoon Yik: The Smart Nation Scholarship is an opportunity to pursue your passion for technology. As technology advances, you get to be part of Singapore’s cyber defence, be involved in securing our key digital infrastructure and systems, and contribute to building a safer cyberspace for citizens and enterprises.
Wen Bin: It is a heavy responsibility to have a hand in steering Singapore’s digital ship. If the idea of being able to influence the nation’s tech future excites you, give it a shot.
Ming Yang: I think that it is of utmost importance to know the kind of future you want, and ensure that your long term goals are aligned with the scholarship. For me, I’m aligned with the mission and I look forward to contributing to Singapore’s digital transformation.