Smart Nation Scholarship
Feature | Smart Nation Scholarship

Looking to The Future of Our Smart Nation

The Smart Nation Scholarship empowers talented individuals to be able to one day contribute to Singapore’s digital transformation and the advancement of its smart nation vision. Amongst the deserving are the 2023 recipients of the Smart Nation Scholarship Chiraag Singh, Fan Ting Wei, and Natasha Tan Yan Tze, who are all set to effect change in the world.
Smart Nation Scholarship

Left: Chiraag Singh is currently completing his double degrees in Computer Engineering and Business at NTU. He is a recipient of the Smart Nation Scholarship and will work in the Infocomm Media Development Authority upon graduation.

Middle: Fan Ting Wei is a Smart Nation Scholar who is currently an AI Engineer (I) with the Government Technology Agency. He graduated with a Bachelor of Systems Engineering and a Bachelor of Business Administration (Accountancy) from NUS.

Right: Natasha Tan Yan Tze is a student pursuing her Bachelor of Computing in Information Security at NUS. She has been awarded the Smart Nation Scholarship and is set to begin her career in the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore when she completes her studies.

The Smart Nation Scholarship is an unprecedented opportunity for talented individuals to be at the forefront to drive Singapore’s digital transformation and contribute to its Smart Nation vision. By equipping recipients with knowledge, skills, and strategic foresight, the scholarship aims to shape our digital landscape, pioneer innovations, and address societal challenges. Through mentorship, networking, and experiential learning, the scholarship offers a platform for transformative leaders to propel Singapore towards becoming a connected, resilient, and inclusive Smart Nation.

Students who possess a passion for driving technological advancements and a vision of how Singapore should be shaped are encouraged to apply. Successful applicants are given theopportunity to work with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), Government Technology Agency(GovTech) or Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), to carve a career path in the industry of their choosing. This is the shared goal of scholars - Chiraag Singh, Fan Ting Wei, and Natasha Tan Yan Tze.

Chiraag looks forward to being an Architect of Singapore’s Digital Future at IMDA, Ting Wei is already making strides as an AI Engineer with GovTech, and Natasha is fuelled with enthusiasm to kickstart her career with CSA. We sat down with them and delve into their motivations, experiences and aspirations.

Chiraag, you are currently pursuing a double degree in Computer Engineering and Business at NTU. How did you discover your interest in these fields?

Chiraag: I’ve always been interested in computers. Before university, I’ve learnt a lot about software on my own, but felt that my knowledge on the hardware front was lacking. The computer was like a magical black box to me! I had no understanding of how the hardware makes the software possible. As I am convinced that learning about the hardware would be useful for future innovation, I chose to pursue a degree in Computer Engineering.

My interest in business was born from Finance. During Junior College,I explored and discovered other aspects of business such as law, accounting and operations. Intrigued to learn more about these topics, I decided to take up business at a higher level in university.

Instead of selecting between computer engineering or business, I chose a double degree as it allows me to delve into both my interests in an integrated manner. This helps me build competency in areas where two of these fields intercept.

“I am especially excited about emerging technologies. I look forward to working at IMDA and closely with the industry to grow our digital economy.” Chiraag Singh

Ting Wei, what sparked your interest in AI Engineering?

Ting Wei: I was inspired by a sharing session by the Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Division (DSAID) of GovTech that I attended in my first year of university. They shared about how data science was used to hunt for the rogue train on the Circle Line and how natural language processing was used to identify the main concerns of key collection from the large number of emails that HDB receives every day. It really pushed me to want to know more.

Natasha, what inspired your decision to pursue a career in information security?

Natasha: My interest in information security started with computers. At the age of five, I was given access to the family computer, and I chanced upon Excel. I spent hours playing around with the cell functions, fascinated by how the computer could do these magical computations with simple instructions. As I grew older, I played computer games and learnt coding on my own online, which fuelled my desire to learn more about computers.

I had my first experience with information security when I played GovTech’s “Stack the Flags” competition with my friends in 2020. While I knew that I would eventually end up in information security, this experience solidified my belief. It was an incredibly enriching experience, as I learnt about many online tools. Since that competition, I have taken the time to participate in more of such capture-the-flag style of competitions, expanding my knowledge of information security.

As recipients of the Smart Nation Scholarship, how has the award benefitted you so far?

Chiraag: IMDA provides broad exposure to various industries within the tech domain as wellas the opportunity to work in a range of roles; from software engineering to regulation. I believe working in IMDA will allow me to further explore my passion and discover new interests which will better guide my future career decisions.

Ting Wei: The scholarship helped me connect with a diverse group of individuals who shared my interest in technology and the public sector. With the support of mentors whom I met through the scholarship, I was able to know more about GovTech and figure out where I can contribute and grow when I joined after graduation.

Natasha: This scholarship has helped me to network and meet other people in the field and has given me opportunities to develop myself, both in soft and hard skills. In addition, I have gained some independence as I no longer need torely on my parents financially, allowing them to focus on themselves.

“My work in data analytics helps different agencies make data-driven decisions across various sectors, an important part of a Smart Nation.” Fan Ting Wei

It sounds like you’ve gained a lot from the scholarship! How are you hoping to apply what you’ve learnt to your future job?

Chiraag: I hope to apply what I have learnt in my undergraduate courses to have effective high-level business conversations about technologies with various stakeholders who may or may not have the same depth of technical knowledge as me. I am especially excited about emerging technologies. I look forward to working at IMDA and closely with the industry to grow our digital economy.

Natasha: I believe the knowledge acquired in NUS is the foundation needed to thrive. Information security requires lifelong learning - as technology changes, new threats will emerge.

For my future work in CSA, I would like to learn about new technologies as they emerge, as well as potential threats and ways to mitigate them before they cause damage.

NUS and CSA have given me many opportunities to improve my communication skills. Good communication is extremely important as I can then put forth my ideas more effectively. It also allows me to help more people be aware of various attacks and how they can keep themselves safe online.

“Knowledge can be acquired, but without passion, it is difficult to remain in this industry.” Natasha Tan Yan Tze

Ting Wei, since you have already started your work with GovTech, could you elaborate more on your job and how the Smart Nation Scholarship has added value to it?

Ting Wei: As an engineer on the data platform team, my main responsibilities are developing features that the different agencies need for their use case and improving the accuracy of the data by maintaining data pipelines. My work in data analytics helps different agencies make data-driven decisions across various sectors, an important part of a Smart Nation.

The scholarship allows us to network with leaders and peers who are in different departments through various events, which helped ease me into the job and have clarity onthe career options I have within GovTech. I am also particularly thankful for my mentor whom I was assigned to help guide my personal growth.

Are there words of wisdom you would like to pass on to anyone thinking about applying for the Smart Nation Scholarship?

Chiraag: If you are interested in a career in public service and tech, apply for the scholarship. Don’t worry about the outcome because you won’t know unless you try!

Ting Wei: Talk to people working in GovTech and learn about things that GovTech does beyond the public-facing projects! Don’t be afraid to apply just because you are not in a specific technical field. A Smart Nation is not only about technology but also about people. Teammates with diverse skill sets are highly valued in GovTech because of the need to interact with a diverse range of stakeholders.

Natasha: You don’t need a technically impressive portfolio to apply for this scholarship. When I applied, all I had in my portfolio was a simple tic-tac-toe game I created and some basic knowledge of coding. I believe it is important to show your passion. Knowledge can be acquired, but without passion, it is difficult to remain in this industry.