Lau Gia Hong Geoffrey
Defence Research Engineer
My company and my job
DSO is a unique organisation that undertakes defence research and development (R&D) to ensure that SAF’s systems maintain an edge over potential adversaries.
My role as a research engineer with the Electronic Systems division is to develop Electronic Warfare (EW) solutions to protect SAF’s assets from potential threats in the electromagnetic spectrum. This involves extensive analysis and research of the system we are studying, conceptualisation and simulation of solutions, which are followed by laboratory tests and field trials to validate each solution’s effectiveness.
How I got my job
I attended DSO’s Open House in 2013 and was instantly attracted to the impactful projects and fascinating models like Singapore’s first microsatellite, the X-SAT, and the Automated Underwater Vehicle. After submitting a post-event survey form, I was pleasantly surprised to be called up for an interview, where the Division Directors and Human Resource representatives assessed my suitability in one of the R&D divisions based on my interests.
My second interview was an informal laboratory tour with my current Programme Manager and Programme Director, who introduced me to their research areas. I thought this unique process was both beneficial to me and the organisation and further cemented my desire to work here. I was also able to gain a better understanding of my job scope by interacting with junior and senior staff who offered me a glimpse of their ongoing projects.
The highs and lows
I would describe my journey in research as ‘riding on a sine wave’ – on some days I encounter a ‘Eureka!’ moment, whereas on others I may temporarily lack inspiration when I’m exploring uncharted subject areas. However, what keeps me continuously engaged in my work is the prospect of learning something new every day, even if the answers may not be apparent now.
My happiest moment at work
When I receive positive feedback from my colleagues that my analysis of the system understudy was conducted thoroughly! Especially in research where we work on areas and solutions that are relatively new in the market, thorough and comprehensive detailing are important to ensure that the solution we devised is robust against various system configurations. This experience spurs me to deliver higher standards of work every time.
Training and support
What I like about DSO is that it pays close attention to staff development. In my first three months, a group of experienced colleagues organised a series of lectures to get me up to speed with fundamental radar principles; these sessions really helped to ease my learning curve. Every year, I am also given the autonomy to plan my own training route, which includes a mix of both soft skills and technical courses, after discussing my work objectives and targets with my supervisors.
In the office, senior colleagues readily share their experience with juniors and vice versa, as each of us have our own areas of expertise. This culture of knowledge sharing reinforces our appreciation for each other’s work.
On a more light-hearted note, the annual department retreat helps my colleagues and I to momentarily unwind from the rigours of research and establish camaraderie. Additionally, DSO’s Recreation Committee organises many events throughout the year to cater to the different interests of our staff – I had an exciting afternoon go-karting with some peers in my first year. DSO also values employees’ time with their family and have organised various family events; personally, I have previously invited my parents to Family Day events at the River Safari and S.E.A. Aquarium.
An aspiring researcher should:
Persevere. Never be disheartened if you don’t succeed;
Keep an open and inquisitive mind. You could generate the next big idea when you least expect it!