Software engineer Oh Chin Yang defends Singapore.
Describe your role in your company and its challenges.
Hi! I’m Chin Yang, a software engineer working in DSO’s Electronic Systems division. I help in the development of electronic warfare systems that are crucial in maintaining our air superiority.
Our biggest challenge is with managing the complexity and scale of the projects that we tackle. Sometimes, projects cross multiple domains with numerous interconnected parts. With so many parts to the entire system, finding the best approach to combat a given task is always difficult work. I find this to be the interesting part, as I am constantly learning something new about other areas of work. In this regard, my senior colleagues have truly been a godsend in their helpfulness and expertise.
What do you love about your job and the company?
The main thing I love about DSO is that I am given the chance to work in fascinating fields and practise what I am passionate about for a living. There are also numerous opportunities for self-development. In just the half a year that I have spent at DSO, I have already been sent for multiple software engineering and programming-related courses which I’ve enjoyed greatly!
Why did you choose the DSTA Scholarship?
I had a few reasons for choosing the DSTA Scholarship. The first was that it would allow me to embark on a career in the science and technology industry and perform cutting-edge research. Secondly, I would get to do meaningful work – work that makes a real difference to our country. Finally, I love Singapore. Tacky and clichéd it might be, but I had already decided that after my studies overseas, I would come back home and build a life and career here. Knowing that I am doing what I love, and working in DSO to help keep the country safe, is something that I draw my inspiration from. The DSTA Scholarship was very enabling for me, and I believe that it was an excellent fit.
What do you think are your strengths that landed you the scholarship?
I find that being very sure of what I wanted, and having a good measure of self-awareness enabled me to articulate with clarity and conviction why I was a good fit for the scholarship. I also had a very strong passion for the sciences, which fuelled the little personal projects I had worked on in my free time that I could talk about during the interviews.
What kinds of career and personal developmental opportunities do your company provide for its scholars?
There are many career and personal development opportunities in DSO. We have technical courses, personal effectiveness workshops and further studies scholarships. With that being said, these are not just for scholars, and are open to all staff too.
Why did you choose your field of study?
As far back as I can remember, I had always wanted to be involved in science and technology in my career. In primary school, I wanted to be a mechanical engineer and after JC, I wanted to be an astrophysicist. It was only by a sheer stroke of luck that I was encouraged to take a course in Electrical and Computer Engineering during the scholarship interview. After some research following the suggestion, I decided it might have been a good fit, so I went for it. Two hours into my first programming class (taught by an amazing professor named David Kosbie) at my university, and I knew I had found a field I truly loved and could happily spend the rest of my life in.
What are the most memorable things that happened in your university life?
I remember the intense pride and joy I felt when I saw a project come alive after hours of programming, working with wires and calling friends in Singapore at 3am to ask them what colours the bands on a resistor are (for alas, I am colour-blind). And then, there were just the simple moments with friends – arguing over board game rules, eating a home-cooked meal together, playing horror video games at midnight and screaming together. I hold these invaluable moments as dear to myself as the others I mentioned.
What are your interests? How do you balance it with working life?
I thoroughly enjoy programming of all kinds (web apps, games, gadgets, etc.) and I can often be found working on one programming project or another.
Another activity I can completely lose myself in is photography. In pursuit of a good photo, I have climbed trees, buried myself in snowdrifts, and even lain in ditches. Regardless, my hobbies are varied, from drawing and painting, to reading and writing, and I love working on projects that fuse all of my interests together, that is, creating artworks that utilise programming and technology.
Balancing my interests with my working life has not been difficult. For one, working at DSO has made it easy to achieve a good work-life balance. I have my weekends to myself and it is not too difficult to finish my work on schedule. Ultimately, I think that having a personal interest in your work should sustain and recharge you, and in most circumstances, finding the time for something you love is never too hard.
Any suggestion on how we can make Singapore a better place to live in?
Encourage rational thinking from a young age, and teach it in schools as a process that should be learnt and applied. Skills, such as identifying and acknowledging your own flaws, and admitting to them, and recognising when you are making an illogical statement or decision – these are all thought patterns that can be taught and applied to enriching effect to society.
Oh Chin Yang
Now: Member of Technical Staff, Electronic Systems Division, DSO National Laboratories
Attained: Master of Science (Electrical & Computer Engineering), Carnegie Mellon University, USA
From: Raffles JC