Pursuing A Future In Tech With Smart Nation Scholarship - Improving Lives with Technology

Scholar Lee Penn Han Shares His Scholarship Journey And Aspirations For A Smart Nation.

Even among his diverse interests, including being skilled in archery and basketball, Penn Han’s aptitude for computers was evident since his schooling days. He used his beloved MacBook extensively in class, from video editing, to producing soundtracks, to creating 3D architectural models.

It was thus natural that his passion directed him to learn more about the technicalities of programming, and to customise his own computer programs. Enrolling in a Data Science course, Penn Han improved his understanding of data analytics for business and further affirmed his passion in technology. He is a firm believer in leveraging on technology to make an impact on the community, and hopes to champion and lead Smart Nation initiatives, to realise his dream of making Singapore a better place for all. Among his accomplishments, Penn Han was also the Maris Stella High School's Student Council President and Captain of Nanyang Junior College Dragon Boat Team.

What was your first experience in the field of tech and what attracted you to the field?
I was one of the pioneer batches of students to be enrolled in the Maris Stella High School 1:1 Learning Programme, where we were equipped with personal Macbooks to participate in tech-based learning. This gave me many opportunities to create media content such as videos and soundtracks and even build 3D Architectural models. This exposure piqued my interest in technology and the technical functions behind such systems.

After completing my National Service, I enrolled into a Data Science course through the CITREP+ programme under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative and was amazed by the potential of a computer in its automation capabilities from just several lines of code. Through these experiences, I grew increasingly interested in this field.

How did you hear about the Smart Nation Scholarship, and what attracted you to apply?
I heard about the Smart Nation Scholarship from a friend and found out more through the BrightSparks website. I read up on the Smart Nation initiative and the three government statutory boards involved while applying for the scholarship and felt that the scholarship was aligned with my personal motivation.

Throughout my education journey, I have held leadership positions where I served my student community. Therefore, social contribution has always been a consideration in the work that I do. In addition, being personally intrigued by the capabilities of computing, I was convinced that we could leverage on technology to better the lives of society and the economy by providing convenience through automation.

In your opinion, what is your key strength that helped you land the scholarship?
While I have previously received some training in public speaking and interview skills, what really enabled me to be at my best was the preparation that I had done before attending the interviews. I invested time to research on the various schemes and formed opinions about them, which in turn allowed me to speak about them and convey my interest during the interviews.

Another key strength was my ability to stay composed in uncomfortable situations. Presentations and interviews are always nerve-wrecking, and I knew that losing my composure then would result in a worse situation. Hence, I relied on my preparations whenever I felt anxious and was able to maintain confidence and successfully showcase my best self.

"I hope to be involved in nation-wide initiatives that will prepare our society for the technological transformation that is progressively taking over major aspects of our lives."

What do you hope to achieve in your career in the public service in contributing to Singapore’s progress towards a Smart Nation?
In light of Singapore’s changing demographics, I hope to be involved in nation-wide initiatives that will prepare our society for the technological transformation that is progressively taking over major aspects of our lives. This will allow us to steel ourselves against any disruptions while we continue to build on technology for better solutions.

Any advice for your peers who are looking to apply for the scholarship?
A word of advice is to know what you are getting into. The Smart Nation scholarship is a promise towards our society and recipients must stay committed towards it.

If you believe in what the Smart Nation initiative is hoping to achieve, then I strongly encourage you to step forward!

Smart Nation Scholarship
Lee Penn Han
Age: 21
Attained: A Levels
Now: First Year at National University of Singapore, Bachelor of Computing (Computer Science)
From: Nanyang Junior College

Penn Han will be joining Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) upon completion of his studies.