Levelling Up at DSTA
06 Sep 2021

Looking to gain first-hand exposure to the defence tech landscape? Hear what some students have to say about their internship journeys with DSTA.

Wang Li Rong
NTU, Data Science & Artificial Intelligence

Interned with Digital Hub

What made you choose an internship at DSTA?

I wanted to contribute to society through my work, and DSTA allowed me to do so perfectly with its key role in Singapore’s defence. I’ve always had an interest in machine learning, so imagine my excitement when I learnt that DSTA uses that in their work!

What did you work on during your internship?

I did research on ways to evaluate vessel classifiers – a machine learning model used to identify vessels – to improve unmanned surveillance of Singapore’s waters. Through this, I discovered that using synthetically generated images of vessels captured in different weather conditions and camera viewpoints would provide a better gauge of the vessel classifiers’ performance. This project has helped expand my understanding of concepts taught in school such as convolutional neural networks, which are algorithms used for image classification.

What were some of the highlights?

The experience has broadened my horizons, and allowed me to explore new areas beyond my school’s syllabus. I was also exposed to new cutting-edge research such as the synthetic image generation framework called 3DB. As that was a new technology that had just been developed, I think I must have been one of the first few people in the world to dabble and experiment with it, which was a surreal once-in-a-lifetime experience! In addition, I was given the opportunity to present my findings on 3DB to DSTA collaborators from a top US university. It was a huge honour as I was the only intern in Digital Hub to be able to do so. It was special as it’s not every day that you get to present to experts in the field!

Joshua Tan
NUS, Computer Science

Interned with Cybersecurity Programme Centre (PC)

What attracted you to DSTA?

I have always been interested in software engineering and cybersecurity, so I wanted to join an organisation with a strong focus in these areas. It was also very important for me to have supportive and like-minded colleagues who would be able to provide guidance throughout my internship. I was convinced that my internship journey would be great the moment I talked with my would-be mentor during my interview, because we just clicked so quickly.

Tell us more about your mentor!

Principal Engineer (Cybersecurity) Seah Zhi Qian played a pivotal role in enriching my internship experience. He was very knowledgeable and generous with his insights. Over the course of the internship, he has become more than just a colleague and is someone I can learn from and banter with.

What did you like best about your internship?

Interns like myself were given the autonomy to decide how we wanted to achieve our goals. I appreciated how forthcoming and helpful my mentor was – there were regular check-ins that kept me on track, and he would often provide valuable feedback at important junctures. This not only helped me refine my solutions to solve key problems, but also built my self-confidence and ability to deal with setbacks.

Would you recommend the internship to your peers?

Definitely! My internship experience has not only exposed me to new innovations in the field but reinforced my interests. It was very fascinating to hear my colleagues discuss the various projects that they were working on, and these sharing sessions allowed me to better appreciate what I was learning in school. Overall, this has been such a wonderful journey, and I believe other interns will benefit from it as well!

Dylan Tan
SUTD, Computer Science

Interned with C3 Development PC


DSTA is a multidisciplinary organisation that harnesses various fields of knowledge such as artificial intelligence and robotics, which was the perfect fit for me. I was able to connect with DSTA staff and they did not hesitate to share more about DSTA’s culture, what I could expect as an intern, and the project requirements. That made me feel very welcomed, and I was confident that I would be well supported by my colleagues during the internship.

What did you work on during your internship?

Using computer vision techniques, I researched and developed an object-following algorithm for a drone. This was part of a large-scale project to determine efficient ways that could prevent stray drones from entering highly secure places. This project has helped to strengthen and refine my coding skills, and I also had the opportunity to experiment with computer vision techniques, which is an area that I’ve always been interested in but never had the chance to explore prior to my internship.

What did you like best about your internship?

The internship programme was well-planned and purposeful. From the outset, my mentor ensured that I had a clear understanding of the project I was working on, and laid out key milestones for me to achieve over the course of my internship. The programme was also learning-driven instead of outcome-driven, which helped ease the pressure and made the experience a lot more enjoyable!

Jarell Wong
NTU, Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Interned with Building and Infrastructure PC

Describe your internship in one word!

Enriching! My weekly sharing sessions with my mentors and virtual seminars I attended provided me with a deeper understanding of the role engineers play in ensuring environmental sustainability, even in defence. I truly appreciate the sharing sessions with my mentors the most, as they gave me insights into how various concepts can be applied in Singapore’s context.

Share with us the project you worked on.

I was part of a team that did research on the latest environmental sustainability trends that could determine how else to help Singapore’s defence industry reduce carbon emissions growth under the Singapore Green Plan 2030. I also reviewed data from the Meteorological Service Singapore and calculated the amount of energy generated from turbines placed at various locations. That helped us determine the best locations to place the turbines, and made sure the benefits outweighed the investment.

Any tips for peers who would like to intern at DSTA?

I believe interns should adopt a growth mentality throughout their internship. It is natural to feel daunted by a project or task at hand, but instead of being overly reliant on others for help, be proactive and take active steps to familiarise yourselves with the requirements. For me, it was very rewarding to have grown both as a person and an engineer, and I believe interns with the right mentality will experience such personal growth too.