Honouring Women in Tech
15 Oct 2021

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While some may think that engineering is a male-dominated environment, to Deputy Chief Executive (Information) Gayle Chan, what really matters is the expertise and experience and not the gender. For her contributions in technology, she has been named one of ‘Singapore 100 Women in Tech 2021’! The list recognises and highlights the diverse contributions of women in Singapore’s infocomm technology sector.

In her current role, Gayle steers DSTA’s digital transformation journey, harnessing digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, cloud and cybersecurity to develop capabilities for Singapore’s defence and security.

“We’re also exploring using computer vision and machine learning techniques to monitor the waters of the Singapore Strait for maritime security, and even gaming and simulation technologies to improve training,” she said.

Gayle started with her boots on the ground in her 20s as a young project engineer involved with the acquisition of the S-70B Seahawk helicopters for the RSN, where she worked in the manufacturing process, testing and delivery of the helicopters for six years.

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Gayle and her team received a token of appreciation for their support in the S-70B Seahawk programme

To capitalise on the rapid advancement of commercial technologies, Gayle also spearheaded the setting up of DSTA’s Digital Hub to ideate, experiment and rapidly prototype new capabilities. She scouted and tapped opportunities relentlessly in AI domains such as computer vision, reinforcement learning and natural language processing to identify new concepts of operation and capabilities for defence applications.

Recalling those days, she said: “There was no rulebook for us to follow and we got our bearings through multiple iterations of experimentations. We were constantly learning and looking out for new technologies to build up our capabilities and competencies.”

Gayle is a strong advocate for building AI competencies within DSTA, the defence ecosystem and also among Singapore’s youth. To this end, she helped conceptualise BrainHack – DSTA’s annual event for students to gain hands-on experience in digital tech – to extend DSTA’s popular cybersecurity youth camp into the areas of AI, information systems and even space technology. BrainHack has gained popularity over the years, with the 2021 edition attracting close to 4,000 students and promoting greater interest in STEM through a series of engaging workshops and competitions.

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Gayle and her colleagues during BrainHack 2020

Believing strongly in collaborating beyond the defence industry, Gayle has also strengthened DSTA’s partnerships with local institutions such as the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, and forged new strategic links with overseas thought leaders including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University.

Learn more about her here!