Imperial College London
Electronic and Information Engineering
SAF Merit Scholarship
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My university application journey
I had not envisioned myself being in the SAF full-time at the start of JC. Initially, I intended to do Medicine, but swapped over to wanting to work in the Public Service. It was during an internship with the SAF that I had a better glimpse into the work that goes into our nation's defence. I decided to take up the mantle of serving in the SAF because it was, to me, the best way to merge my interests of serving the country, technology, working with people and international affairs, in an all-in-one package. It had a sense of adventure (that I would be taken to many interesting places around the world) and a sense of mystery (that there was much to know, but I could not know because it was not yet the time that I needed to know). At the onstart, I had to constantly figure out why I wanted to work in the public service, but after some reflection it really is a question you need to keep asking yourself, and I feel that the reason will not stay the same as you spend more time in your career.
The question of a strong military is an existential issue for Singapore. Singapore needs the military to secure her access to resources. An island nation without a hinterland, we depend on the rest of the world to meet our supply needs - energy, food, water, goods and services. A capable Navy and Air Force protect our sea and air trade routes - ensuring that no aggressor can ever put a blockade on the state, so that our people can continue to live and enjoy normalcy. Through the National Service system, the Army gives us a force of numbers that can contest our would-be aggressors. Without the SAF, Singapore would be denied her diplomatic space - her ability to enforce international agreements, and the freedom to make decisions that are in her best interest. Singapore, by virtue of her geographic position, must be self-reliant and capable in her defence, and this is enshrined in our national security policy.
I had applied to a variety of universities both locally, in the UK and in the US. It required a lot of hustling, but I think that there is value in studying overseas. Frankly, other than the freedom to travel around Europe/America, it means that you have many chances to interact with and understand the worldviews of people who are strikingly different from you. And it means that you can bring back ideas that might be useful either to you, the country or to business. For example, I have friends from Hungary, Portugal, Britain and other parts of Europe, who are all interested in sustainability - it is good to hear from them on how they have tackled the issue in both their personal capacities and at home. I am also able to share Singapore's position on the issue and how we have approached it. The free flow of ideas afforded by people who have all grown up differently is very valuable.
Life after NYJC
I'm currently studying Electronic and Information Engineering (EIE) at Imperial College London under the SAF Merit Scholarship. I'm a regular in the Army serving under the Signals Formation, where we are building the next bound of communications and IT capabilities for the Army. I chose to study EIE as I thought that it would be the most relevant degree for my career path, and I always wanted to learn computing in an academic setting. The degree is hard, but it covers communication theory, software systems, databases, programming, security and radar. And over the course of my vacation attachment I felt that the content covered was relatively useful. My peers comprise half-half of scholars and non-scholars, of whom are planning to work in organisations like DSO, DSTA, CSIT, PUB, and also as software engineers in professional capacities in the UK. If you are interested in any of these careers, feel free to send me an email, I will try my best to answer any questions you may have.
My Future Plans
Tips for Juniors
Find out what you want to do early and work towards it. Identify a niche that you find yourself aligned to, then find out the steps needed to reach there. Connect with people who have done it before so that what you need to do becomes clearer. And thank the ones who have helped you along the way, because they truly have your best interest at heart. I will soon be applying to the US for graduate school as well, so if you are interested in that, please feel free to reach out, I will try my best to help! All the best.