Left: Mash Devaser supports various stakeholders in solving complex problems with his tools and expertise as a Data Scientist at Information Technology, Cybersecurity and Digital Services in LTA. He is an LTA Overseas Midterm Scholar, and he holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from the University of Bristol.
Right: Ng Shao Fei, Keith is working on rolling out the Nexgen ERP system in his role as Senior Engineer at Transportation Technology in LTA. He is an LTA Local Mid-term Scholar, and he holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from NUS.
The notion of getting from point A to point B is a very simple one but as they say, the devil is in the details. In Singapore, we often get to our destinations efficiently with little fuss. This is largely due to the extensive network of transport infrastructure that is seamlessly connected and well-maintained.
The agency that “Keeps Your World Moving” is none other than the Land Transport Authority (LTA). Apart from planning, designing, building and maintaining Singapore’s land transport infrastructure and systems, LTA also constantly explores greener and more inclusive options such as walking and cycling, and delves into the use of technology to create exciting options for the future.
They have officers such as Ng Shao Fei, Keith, who looks into the rollout of the Next generation ERP (Nexgen ERP), which leverages the global navigation satellite system technology. There is also Mash Devaser, a data scientist who brings his expertise, tools and technology to help LTA make better-informed decisions.
We got Keith and Mash to share their thoughts on the future of Singapore’s land transport, and their aspirations with LTA.
What motivated you to explore and embark on a career with LTA?
Keith: Transport systems play a phenomenal role in my journey of discovery around the world, and it fascinates me how these systems have evolved tremendously over the past 100 years, especially in the context of Singapore. Hence, it was without a doubt that pursuing a career in land transport to contribute to this continued progress of transport systems would be a fulfilling path for me to take.
Mash: Similarly for me, the experience of living in and exploring a city, whether in Singapore or elsewhere, and all it has to offer is hugely intertwined with the efficacy of its land transport system, and so it made sense to start in this sector where I could contribute to something bigger than myself.
Both of you are recipients of the LTA Scholarship. Share with us your journey from application to acceptance.
Keith: I discovered the scholarship during an internship with LTA in my second year of studies at NUS. I was certain of pursuing a career in a transport-related industry and the positive experience I had reaffirmed my choice to proceed with the LTA scholarship. Furthermore, I was drawn to the exposure to the various stakeholders in the transport industry that LTA can provide.
Mash: I found the scholarship while researching on the BrightSparks portal. My belief at the point of application was that a career with LTA would offer me the widest breadth of perspectives - operations, development, and strategy. It provides a comprehensive development programme for scholars with various job rotations through different functions, as well as mentoring by management staff.
How did LTA support your academic experience while you were studying?
Keith: The LTA scholarship covered my tuition and compulsory fees and provided a maintenance allowance as well that eased the burden of my living expenses. I also received mentoring support from LTA during my final year of studies for a project that involved designing noise barriers for public roads.
Mash: The security of a job upon graduation back home and the monthly allowance provided me with the peace of mind and financial means for both academic and non-academic pursuits while abroad. The periodic checks and engagements via email or in-person during internships also helped to keep me aligned and in touch with the organisation’s needs and direction so I would not feel displaced upon my eventual return.
Keith, you are currently with the team working on the rollout of the Nexgen ERP. What are your main role and responsibilities?
Keith: I have been posted recently to this new division as part of the job rotation opportunity that LTA provides. Here, I work with my team to ensure that the programme and installation of the Nexgen ERP are smoothly executed in a timely fashion. This consists of tackling various challenges such as managing vendors developing the Nexgen ERP system, engagement of various stakeholders including the motoring industry, as well as handling budget matters.
What can drivers expect from the Nexgen ERP?
Keith: For one, the Nexgen ERP, which leverages the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology, will feature value-added services to motorists, such as advance alerts on charging locations and real-time traffic information, that are not possible with the current in-vehicle units (IUs) which motorists are familiar with.
Mash, how does your role as a Data Scientist contribute to LTA’s objectives?
Mash: I sit down with stakeholder divisions in LTA to understand their pain points, data needs, and work out solutions to their problem statements with them through data preparation, analysis, and visualisation.
In my previous role as an Engineer, I worked closely with a team of engineers and scientists in a research institution on an R&D trial to harness technology and richer datasets to further optimise traffic flow. All in all, I am fortunate to be rotated to different Divisions in LTA to gain exposure to different areas of work.
What do you hope to achieve in your career?
Keith: I hope to contribute to the continued progress of transport systems in Singapore and to bring it to greater heights. I feel privileged to be able to work in LTA, playing a part in literally moving millions of people in Singapore efficiently and reliably, and shaping our transport landscape for future generations.
Mash: I hope to do something good with data such that I can make someone’s day a tiny bit better, whether it is setting up a dashboard for data-driven decision-making, challenging paradigms in approaching digital problems, providing undiscovered insights to the daily commuter or even objectively derived assurance that our organisation’s work is in the right direction.
What would you say to convince someone to join LTA?
Keith: The land transport industry touches the lives of many on a daily basis and LTA is the biggest pillar supporting the industry from many angles. If you are keen to be a part of an incredible team driving tangible improvements to the land transport landscape of Singapore, look no further!
Mash: Your work in LTA will have a direct and sometimes almost immediate impact on citizens and residents at large. At a personal level, LTA provides, for me at least, a stable and conducive atmosphere to grow as an engineer and now data scientist.