Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA)

Gabriel Yik

Intern, Enterprise IT Programme Centre

Gabriel will be graduating with a Bachelor of Computing (Computer Science) from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2021.

I have been exposed to many learning opportunites in DSTA, especially while doing hands-on projects that will have a real and tangible impact.
Mornings are usually dedicated to my main project – an innovation management platform developed by the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) for ground-up innovations in the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). It is a web application that helps to quickly crowdsource ideas and solutions to promote innovation, be it in day-to-day operations such as saving water and energy in camps, or how to run MINDEF/ SAF processes or programmes like In- Camp Training (ICT) more efficiently. My role is to build a prototype that expands on the platform’s gamification module to improve user engagement by extending elements such as rewards, points systems, and avatars to other parts of the platform. Hence, I would usually be coding or designing software interactions.

As an aspiring developer, I applied for an internship with DSTA to learn how software is developed, and also improve and learn new software development skills. In university, I have been exploring how to create apps, games and even a university course planner software as part of a group project. I feel that internships go one step further in putting what you have learned into real-world contexts. It’s about the opportunity to be part of something bigger, and a sneak peek into what I hope to work on in the future. I have been exposed to many learning opportunites in DSTA, especially while doing hands-on projects that will have a real and tangible impact.
I might be debugging my codes or doing research and experimentation to explore how I can improve certain aspects of the module.
I look forward to having lunch with my fellow interns everyday, and there are also lunchtime tech talks conducted by DSTA engineers or visiting experts to broaden our perspectives and work approaches beyond our ‘usual’ areas of expertise.
In the afternoon, I’m likely to be attending project meetings and discussions. Through these, I get to hone essential skills like communication, aside from my core development work. It is also meaningful to interact directly with users of our platform, and get valuable feedback on how it’s working or which parts can be improved. For example, I observed a trial test for the platform’s new capabilities during DSTA’s inaugural Industry PITCH day, where various companies were invited to present their innovative solutions and challenge statements to a panel of MINDEF/SAF and DSTA judges. Our platform was used to help in scoring and evaluating the solutions’ feasibility and effectiveness. User feedback was collected after the event and the development team later assessed them for feasibility and incorporation as a continuous effort to improve the platform.
If I encounter an issue or design consideration that I cannot resolve myself, I would drop by my mentor’s desk for consultation. This would be on top of our weekly meet-ups to discuss the progress of the project and challenges faced. I appreciate that my mentor gives me freedom to try out new ideas and methods while providing guidance to ensure I’m on the right track.
Continue to work on my project or other ad-hoc tasks. Towards the end of my internship, I also attended a cross Programme Centre (PC) sharing session with other interns to share more about our projects and learn more about each PC’s work.
Wrap up my work for the day and head home.