A Toast to Young Scientists
22 May 2021

The Young Defence Scientists Programme (YDSP) Congress 2021 went live as a virtual showcase on 23 April 2021, casting its spotlight on innovative student-led projects which ventured into the realms of artificial intelligence (AI), space technologies and web development.

The YDSP Congress was the finale for a series of YDSP activities held over the past year, which saw participation from nearly 300 students. More than 2,400 students and school representatives were invited to the virtual showcase where students recapped their key learnings and experiences.


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In his address, Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How emphasised the value of science and tech in a year disrupted by COVID-19, and highlighted how YDSP has been an important avenue for youths to discover fascinating possibilities and applications of technology. He said: “This year’s YDSP Congress showcases the imagination, resourcefulness and passion of our nation’s bright young minds. Camps and workshops were made virtual and projects and internships were done largely from home. Despite the challenges, you still completed your YDSP journeys and came up with very creative and promising ideas.”

From integrating drones into urbanised environments to exploring the Internet of Things for long-range communications, the students showcased a wide range of projects that leveraged various advanced technologies.

One of the projects involved developing new use cases for unmanned maritime systems of the future, which has seen exponential growth following advancements in autonomous technology. Research@YDSP intern Xavia Lee from St. Joseph’s Institution delved into the untapped areas in this field, exploring technology enablers and proposing solutions for future operations. Apart from learning how unmanned systems are employed, Xavia also conducted research into the challenges and solutions associated with their use.

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Another project dealt with the diverse and exciting applications of satellite technologies. Satellites in low earth orbit typically have short in-orbit lifetimes, which depend on various factors such as orbital altitude, surface area and propulsion capability. Research@YDSP intern Bernice Chong from Raffles Girls’ School delivered a summary report and presentation on the factors that affect orbital lifetimes with real-life examples. Her project has since clinched the SUTD Research and Innovation Award (Aviation), which recognises outstanding projects that have demonstrated innovation and creativity through the use of AI and data science.

Bernice said: “Prior to this project, I was unfamiliar with reliability design or orbital mechanics. My research attachment at DSTA has broadened my world view, and the entire learning journey was a tough but extremely fulfilling one.”


When asked about their learning experiences, most of the participants felt that YDSP had exposed them to knowledge beyond the classroom, and funnelled their interests into pursuing higher education in STEM-related fields.

One of them was Samuel Soo from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), who shared: “Being exposed to and delving into programming, infocomm infrastructure, embedded systems, networking and artificial intelligence has changed my perceptions of traditional technology.”

Head of Department of Science at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School Hoo Boon Leng also chimed in: “YDSP provides an array of STEM-related opportunities for students to learn beyond textbooks, apply their knowledge to a real-world context, and pursue their passion. It also provides useful and exciting insights into engineering and technology concepts and techniques.”

The annual YDSP series of activities consist of camps, workshops, and even a four-month project attachment to DSTA or other organisations within the Defence Technology Community. Find out more here.