Celebrating Aspiring Defence Technologists

25 May 2022

Looking for fresh insights into defence science and technology and how they can be leveraged to strengthen Singapore’s national security and defence? For over 1,650 students and school representatives, they looked no further than the Young Defence Scientists Programme (YDSP) Congress.

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Held from 25 April to 24 May 2022 as a virtual showcase, YDSP Congress 2022 marked the culmination of numerous YDSP activities conducted over the past year which drew participation from over 460 students. The showcase featured many innovative student-led projects covering a variety of topics such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual/augmented reality, which was viewed by 1,190 students and school representatives.

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In his welcome address at YDSP Congress 2022, Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How highlighted the importance of harnessing technology for Singapore’s defence as a “game changer and force multiplier for the SAF”, and that “leveraging the latest technology ensures our fighting edge remains sharp in an evolving security landscape”.

He added: “To our young defence scientists, I hope you have gained valuable insights into the work of this community through the YDSP, and that you may be inspired enough to want to join us one day.”

From AI and cryptography, to training simulators and unmanned systems, the student participants showcased a huge range of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) projects at this year’s congress.

For Research@YDSP interns Avril Sim from Victoria Junior College and Ong Yu Xi from Raffles Institution, the programme was an opportunity to brush up on their coding skills. Their newfound skills helped them develop a human resource management system to enhance the performance tracking of contract staff.

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Avril (left) and Yu Xi (right) with screenshots of their project.

“For YDSP, I wanted to do something that would enable me to widen my knowledge in coding, and go beyond the limits of what I could achieve on my own. YDSP provided me with the opportunities and resources to do just that!” Avril said.

Yu Xi chimed in: “I gained the confidence to look into other fields in computer science such as AI, and even tried my hand at machine learning with Python. I can definitely say that I learnt a lot from my project, knowledge that I still use today.”

Another team from River Valley High School that was featured in the congress used computer vision and AI to identify flood-prone areas, as well as evaluate the extent of damage caused by flooding.

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Team member Chen Qingyuan said: “We gained insights into how it’s like to solve real-world problems with the knowledge we’d picked up, and I learnt the importance of STEM and how I can apply what I learn in school to make a difference to Singapore.”

For most, YDSP helped advance their interest and knowledge in STEM-related fields, and inspired them to push themselves further.

Hear some of our YDSP participants share the highlights of their experiences!

The positive experiences went both ways, and the students’ mentors enjoyed themselves just as much.

Senior Principal Engineer (C3 Development) Meo Kok Eng said: “It was my first time guiding a secondary school student, and he was surprisingly mature and analytical despite being just half my age. It was great to see his passion for knowledge throughout the internship.”

Head (Training Simulation Sustainment Cluster) Jermaine Chew shared those sentiments. With five students under her wing, there were always endless enjoyable discussions on how to best approach and tackle problems.

The YDSP Congress also saw 29 Integrated Programme Year 3 students receive the YDSP Scholarship for their outstanding academic results and passion for science and technology.

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This year’s YDSP Scholarship awardees.

From a fascination with science fiction, to loving creative and logical challenges, all of them had a personal spark that kickstarted their passion for STEM. But a common goal remains: to hone their interest in STEM into something meaningful that will allow them to contribute to society.

“My future aspirations are in the areas of cybersecurity or engineering, and I am glad this scholarship will aid my development in these areas,” said recipient Celeste Chua from River Valley High School.

Fellow recipient Sophie Ang from Raffles Girls’ School added: “I hope to develop new technologies and solutions that can help Singapore stay at the forefront of scientific and technological advances. This scholarship is a stepping stone towards achieving my ambition.”

Click here to find out more about how you can be a part of YDSP!