25 Oct 2021
Looking for an exciting career in technology and engineering? In a series of career fairs organised by Nanyang Technological University, two DSTA engineers shared with undergraduates what made them join DSTA years ago.
1. The work in DSTA is meaningful
Worried that your job might lose its meaning over time? This is unlikely to happen at DSTA as the work here contributes to Singapore’s defence capabilities, and it was for this reason that Project Manager (Land Systems) Kylie Loo decided to join DSTA five years ago.
Not only is the work unique, DSTA’s myriad of projects spanning across multiple disciplinaries constantly challenges staff to grow and learn. Citing her experience working on the Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV), she said: “We were working on so many new technologies and incorporating all these new features into the Hunter. There was no precedent for us to refer to, and that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The experience really helped me to grow as an engineer as it exposed me to new ways to apply my skills and knowledge.”
“Besides, it was fulfilling to be given the opportunity to contribute in the development of the Army’s first fully digitised vehicle that incorporates smart digital technologies. How often do you get to say that about your work?”
Kylie poses with the Hunter AFV at Sungei Gedong Camp after its commissioning. The new technologies developed by Kylie and her teammates include providing the vehicle commander with a high level of situational awareness to enhance the crews’ survivability.
2. You never walk alone
Although work can be challenging, everyone looks out for one another and no one gets left behind. Kylie explained: “We place heavy emphasis on team work – everyone is always very willing to share his expertise and offer his help. We won’t leave anyone to fend for himself.”
In fact, this culture is something that is passed down from senior colleagues, who set good examples for the younger staff to follow. For Kylie, her supervisor’s guidance and leadership have shaped not just the way she works but also the way she steers her juniors.
“My supervisor believes in this philosophy: train your staff well so that they are skilled enough to leave, but treat them well so that they will want to stay. On top of giving me the autonomy to make decisions and the space to learn, my supervisor has never hesitated to defend me and guide me on how to make things better. This influenced me greatly, and that is something I strive to do now with my own team,” she revealed.
Kylie with her supervisor and colleagues after a team bonding session to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
Note: Photo was taken when social gatherings with up to eight people were permitted.
3. You get to choose from flexible career opportunities
With 18 Programme Centres (PC) each leveraging different advanced technologies, DSTA offers many opportunities to explore various domains of work and engineering fields.
Every PC focuses on a different aspect of defence.
There are also various career paths that DSTA staff can embark on. Kylie explained: “Depending on your aspirations and abilities, you can either choose to become a specialist and deepen your knowledge and skills in a certain discipline, or opt for a career path that allows you to go for a wider breath of experiences and skill sets, just like me!”
“Fresh out of engineering school, I thought I would be an engineer my whole life. But after I joined DSTA, I realised that I had other career options such as becoming a project manager, where I can apply my engineering knowledge in a different capacity,” she added.
4. There’s a strong emphasis on lifelong learning
For Head Engineer (Data Analytics) Daryl Lee, DSTA’s strong emphasis on nurturing and developing its staff is key to self-fulfilment.
DSTA encourages its staff to participate actively in conferences and workshops, and also provides many platforms for staff to enrich themselves. These include internal sharing sessions where staff gather to exchange project experiences and domain knowledge with one another, as well as external conferences where staff can engage global thought leaders and experts to deepen their expertise and learn about industry best practices.
Daryl has shared his knowledge in data analytics and artificial intelligence with his colleagues.
Note: Photos were taken before COVID-19.
To further their learning, staff can also attend a series of milestone courses organised by DSTA Academy, and gain access to a comprehensive list of resources to equip themselves with both management and technical skills. In addition, they are encouraged and empowered to take charge of their personal and professional growth, aided by DSTA frameworks developed for staff development.
Daryl added: “Before I assumed my current role, I enrolled in courses organised by DSTA Academy to develop soft skills such as people management. The lessons gave me much confidence to take on my new appointment, and they still shape how I lead my teams today.”
5. You get dibs on the latest cutting-edge technologies
Technology geeks will be pleased to know that DSTA staff have many opportunities to work with the latest gadgets and technologies.
DSTA harnesses advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and mixed reality portals. In fact, a team from Information PC just leveraged fourth industrial revolution technologies such as AI and data analytics to develop a Command and Control Information System, with the system trialled at the recently concluded Exercise Forging Sabre in Idaho, US.
Daryl explained: “It is part of our work to explore the latest technologies to find new applications to solve day-to-day operational problems and challenges. In my time at DSTA, I’ve tried out the latest state-of-the-art computers to develop algorithms, experimented with virtual reality headsets to gain a better understanding of information visualisation, and utilised serious game engines for AI reinforcement learning!”
If you have a passion for science and technology, join DSTA as an intern or for a life-long career to make an impact on Singapore’s defence!