Nurturing Young Defence Technologists

26 Apr 2024

What is your passion? What gets you excited every morning when you wake up? For some students, it is the chance to explore making a real difference in the defence technology sector.

At the YDSP Congress held this year on 26 April, we celebrated the efforts and enthusiasm of our bright young minds who delved into emerging tech and applied their interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for defence. The YDSP Congress was the culmination of a full year of immersive activities under the Young Defence Scientists Programme (YDSP), where 425 students from 19 schools gained hands-on experience in tackling real-life challenges in the realms of artificial intelligence, cryptography, quantum technology and robotics, under the mentorship of DSTA and DSO National Laboratories’ engineering and technology experts.

Students from Victoria Junior College showcased their project on drone technology to SMS Heng during the exhibit tour.

In his keynote address, Guest-of-Honour, Senior Minister of State for Defence, Mr Heng Chee How, shared how it is imperative that the Singapore Armed Forces continues to tap on cutting-edge technology to achieve an operational edge. This is only possible if we are able to attract talents to contribute to our Defence Technology Community. He said, “Through platforms like YDSP, we hope to inspire bright young minds to be part of Singapore’s next generation of defence scientists and engineers.” 

Senior Minister of State for Defence, Mr Heng Chee How shared on the importance of YDSP, citing examples of past YDSP participants who are currently working in the defence community.

At the congress, Mr Heng presented 30 YDSP Scholarships and 35 DSTA Junior College Scholarships to students in recognition of their outstanding academic and co-curricular achievements.

Serene Zhang, 17-year-old who participated in a Research@YDSP internship with DSTA said, “YDSP has allowed me to gain a newfound appreciation and understanding of research. Through the programme, I saw how science and technology can have a lasting impact on the community around us and it has spurred me to continue promoting STEM to others.” Serene is a co-founder of Y:WAIT (Young Women in AI and Technology), a student-led movement that aims to empower young women to discover their passion and potential in STEM.

Students learning from DSTA mentors during the Science and Technology June and December camps respectively.

Sadhana Kumar, a second-time participant of YDSP shared how the great experience she had from participating in Research@YDSP in 2022 prompted her to join the Science and Technology Camp by DSTA in 2023. During the camp, she was exposed to a wide range of AI technologies to solve real-world problems and gained insights into the importance of considering ethical implications in AI development. Through her experience, she is now considering pursuing further education and career opportunities in the defence technology sector. 

Sadhana Kaur, a previous participant of Research@YDSP 2022 joined the Science and Technology camp in 2023 to explore a project on artificial intelligence and machine learning with her team.

One invaluable aspect of the YDSP is also the mentorship and guidance provided to students which is not only beneficial to students but to the mentors as well. First time mentor, Engineer (Digital Hub) Lim Gang Le reflected how he has grown personally through mentoring the students, to learn to put the needs of others first. He elaborated, “it was an enjoyable and engaging experience and we felt a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction after the project was completed! I encourage more students to join us to learn about the latest technology and how they are applied for defence.”

If you have the passion for STEM or interested to explore the area of defence technology, why not take a leap of faith and see where this journey will take you? Find out more about YDSP here and join us next year!