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DSTA – The Scope To Explore, Dream And Discover

Marcus Lim leads a group of ­research engineers to find novel solutions to bolster our defence.

I took up the DSTA Scholarship as it offered me the opportunity to study in Cornell University, which is one of the top universities in the world. I took advantage of the flexible American education system to survey a wide range of courses, such as Philosophy, Mathematics, and Economics, before deciding to  pursue a double majors in Computer Science and Operations Research. There was a good synergy to utilise practical experiences in Computer Science to implement the mathematical models in Operations Re-search to model and optimise real-world processes effectively and efficiently.

Beyond coursework, I also joined a robotics research group at Cornell to build autonomous robots that could help do household chores such as tidying up rooms. I focused on a key building block for the robot which was the algorithm to pick up and neatly arrange objects. After countless hours spent in the lab, I gained a deep sense of achievement after seeing my robot complete complex object arrangement tasks. During my time in the lab, I even got the chance to play around with human-sized mobile robots, military-grade quadrotor helicopters, and laser rangefinders used in autonomous driving cars. My exposure to these technologies intrigued me on what artificial intelligence can do, and I can see that our future may actually be like the world depicted in sci-fi movies.

Cornell also served as my springboard to explore Europe and North America. I seized the chance to experience nature’s wonders at Niagara Falls in Toronto, observed human creativity at the Metro-politan Museum of Art in New York, retraced crime stories at Alcatraz in San Francisco, and absorbed the new cultures in the Caribbean.

In addition to sponsoring my education, DSTA also equipped me with life-skills. I enjoyed the culinary class conducted by the Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre (SHATEC) as part of the scholarship orientation programme. The scholarship also provided internship opportunities with the Defence Technology Community, allowing me to gain a taste of the work upon my return. During my internship with the Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies (CSIT), I learnt about Trans-parent Encryption. Despite my limited background in cryptography then, I was excited to explore new areas in computer security, and was able to quickly grasp the key ideas through resources provided by my mentor.

I enjoyed the internship experience, and chose to work at CSIT after completing my studies. Here, I worked on applying cutting-edge data analytics technologies to address operational problems. It was exciting to see how my work can help our users improve their work, and the key challenge was to constantly innovate to find new ways to apply the technology to suit our needs. Beyond furthering my technical proficiency, CSIT also gave me opportunities to learn from great thinkers in our organisation, and to develop my leadership capabilities. Now I lead a talented group of research engineers to find novel solutions to bolster our operational effectiveness.

Looking back, I am grateful for the DSTA Scholarship, as it had provided many enriching opportunities for me to explore, dream and discover.

Marcus Lim

DSTA Scholarship
Age: 29
Now: Manager, Information Processing and ­Analytics, Centre for Strategic ­Infocomm Technologies (CSIT)
Attained: Master of Engineering in ­Computer Science from Cornell University, USA
From: Victoria JC