Defence Technology: Graduate Area of Work

Graduates working in this industry will get to experiment with cutting-edge emerging technologies alongside colleagues from other disciplines.
The gradsingapore Team

Defence engineering mostly involves performing R&D to produce better support services and equipment for a nation’s air, land, and naval armies. Much of the work goes into advanced electronics and systems engineering, though the end products must conform to extremely rigorous military requirements.

Singapore’s defence technology is primarily managed by the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), where intensive development and acquisitions are performed to strengthen and support the nation’s “Total Defence” policy.

Most commercial organisations providing defence engineering services or defence technology locally also tend to be government-linked.

Trends and developments in defence technology

Unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) and weapons systems are becoming increasingly central in defence technology, allowing soldiers to perform reconnaissance and dangerous operations with minimal risk.

In addition, one often-overlooked area among graduates keen on a career in defence engineering is network security. In order for defence technologies across different mediums (e.g. electronic, land, air, marine) to function as a unified system, a comprehensive and well-protected defence communications network is key. 

Project timescales within the defence engineering industry used to be very long, with new technologies languishing in development for years. However, these days, new capabilities must now be conceptualised, tested, manufactured, and rolled out within a much shorter timeframe.

Some urgent operational projects can even be introduced and then phased out of operation within less than a year.   

What it’s like working in the defence industry

This industry is a lively one, where the working environment, colleagues, and timescale are diverse. Depending on your assignments, you may be placed in laboratories or research centres, standard workstations, military operations rooms, or outdoor test sites where you can observe the run-through of your projects.

This industry also gives you the opportunity to work with the latest emerging technologies. You’ll be handling products, systems, theories, and prototypes that are years ahead of what is currently available on the mass market.

Expect to work in multidisciplinary teams on projects. You’ll mingle with people and experts from other disciplines, such as mathematicians, electronic engineers, programmers, and even robotics and IT specialists.

Getting a graduate job in defence technology

One main requirement for entering this field is a solid engineering background that equips you with the necessary skills needed for you to perform.

Once you’re accepted, most employers in this field will put you into a programme consisting of a combination of structured training and practical work, where you’ll be guided by an experienced mentor. This helps you to recognise and appreciate the extent and scope of the industry.

Keep an open mind too as you interact with your colleagues – it not only helps you build better relationships with them, but to also gain different perspectives on the industry and its prevailing issues.

Creativity and critical thinking skills are key, as defence engineers will often have to think out of the box to come up with ways of improving existing defence strategies – even if the required technologies for such solutions are not publically available yet!

Trustworthiness and discretion is also of utmost importance. The defence strategies and technologies of a country must be treated with extreme confidentiality. As a defence engineer, you will also have to be diplomatic and discrete enough to prevent information leaks.

The highlights of a career in defence technology

One of the main highlights of the industry is the variety of duties and people within the sector. You may be asked to work in the laboratory today, and then assigned to onsite research on another day. All this makes for a vastly interesting experience.

The opportunity to contribute to the safety of your country is also another positive point to this line of work. Many defence engineers find the fact that they’re contributing to the nation’s security incredibly gratifying.

The trade-off, however, is that silence is golden in this line of work. You will be under heavy scrutiny to minimise the risk of information leaks to the point where you may not even be able to bring your own hand phone to work, or even talk about your job with your own family. This can be quite off-putting to those unused to such pressure.   

The defence industry seeks graduates in...

  • Aerospace/aeronautical
  • Automotive
  • Chemical
  • Civil/structural
  • Electrical
  • Electronics
  • Environmental
  • Instruments
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical
  • Physics
  • Software