Meet the young talent GovTech is developing via the Technology Associate Programme
At GovTech, technology is obviously a big part of making what we do possible. Yet, it’s not everything. What’s the other important part of the equation?
You guessed it – people. One way that we’re grooming future tech leaders in the public sector is via the Technology Associate Programme (TAP). This is a two-year programme that offers individuals the chance to enhance their skills in specific technology domains, grow their personal skills and work on pressing issues relevant to Singapore. Over the course of two years, participants receive mentorship from experienced professionals and collaborate with peers. The programme provides developmental opportunities and emphasises both personal and technical growth. Of course, that’s all the stuff you can already find on the website.
So, we’ve got something better for you – who else better to tell you more about TAP than the people currently in it? We spoke to two of our Tech Associates aka TAPpers, Goh Jia Yi and Riaz Ahamed, to share more about their experience in TAP.
Tell us about your role in GovTech! What’s your educational background and how does it tie into your current role?
Jia Yi: I am an AI Engineer with the Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Division (DSAID) Video Analytics Team. I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Science (Business Analytics) with NUS in 2022. My main responsibilities include whitespace projects to venture and experiment with new cutting-edge models and techniques within the Computer Vision space to develop AI capabilities for government services.
Much of the knowledge I have learnt in university surrounding the topics of data analysis, data science, and machine learning has been extremely relevant to my current role.
Riaz: I am a Systems Engineer at the Smart City Tech Division (SCTD) and I work closely with agencies like MOE to improve their facility management services. I studied Computer Engineering at NUS where I took modules that involve software and hardware development. These skill sets tie in with the scope of my role as I work with IoT devices as well as developing software to monitor and control these devices.
Can you share how TAP has helped you sharpen your technical knowledge and professional skills?
Jia Yi: As part of the TAP program, one of the first events that we attended was the Engineering Bootcamp which exposed TAPpers to the 5 tech domains and allowed us to build a solid foundation. It has allowed me to explore and discover where my interests and strengths align. In addition, over the past year, there have been numerous networking opportunities which allowed me to connect with a myriad of tech professionals.
TAP has helped me gain more knowledge across tech domains and broaden my perspective. Speaking with these seasoned professionals has not only sharpened my technical skills but has also been instrumental in honing my networking and interpersonal skills.
Riaz: As an aspiring tech leader, gathering technical knowledge and applying it to collaborative work is an important skill set. TAP provides many opportunities to gather this technical knowledge by attending sharings, workshops, talks and networking sessions. It is also important for a leader to understand the people they are working with. As such, I get to practise my social skills in these environments where you can interact with many interesting GovTechies.
What’s the most impactful project you’ve been involved in and why?
Jia Yi: One memorable project that I have been involved in was a Construction Safety project where my team has jointly developed with another agency. This video system is capable of monitoring activities in construction sites and flag safety violations through the use of artificial intelligence. For an instance, if the system detects workers standing too close to operating excavators, it sends alerts to the site’s safety officers and enables them to take prompt action. This project has helped to enhance safety of construction sites by proactively identifying potential hazards to protect the well-being of workers.
Riaz: For me, it has to be the SmartFM (Smart Facility Management) application that we build for agencies. With my expertise, I was able to build a full-fledged functional and scalable application that can be used seamlessly by the facility managers. There has been good feedback that these applications are helpful in monitoring and preventing mishaps such as water leakage and power outages.
Could you describe a mentorship experience that stood out for you? How has mentorship played a role in your growth within GovTech?
Jia Yi: What makes the TAP mentorship experience special is the cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives. While I come from a Data Science and Artificial Intelligence background, my mentor’s expertise is in the Cybersecurity area. During our catch-ups, we would share about projects that we have been working on and it has been enjoyable to have opinions and suggestions from a different perspective. In addition, my mentor has provided unwavering support and words of encouragement during times when I needed to navigate my way around challenges, whether they were related to my career or personal life.
In a rapidly evolving tech landscape, staying updated is crucial. How do you balance ongoing learning and applying your knowledge effectively in your projects?
Jia Yi: Personally, I dedicate time after working hours to catch up and learn about the newest trends and venture into technologies and tools that I have yet to explore. In addition, my division and team strongly advocate for self-development through workshops and dedicated learning time. My team has a culture of sharing interesting articles and papers within the AI domain to keep everyone updated on the latest developments. We congregate for meaningful discussions and sharings to test and try out new tools, allowing us to learn from one another.
Riaz: I view the scope of my project and new emerging technologies as something that complement each other. After all, we don’t want to build legacy systems. Instead, we want to build systems that evolve with emerging tech. As I work on my projects, I identify some loopholes, as well as recently developed solutions to such problems and experiment with how I can implement them. As such, we are building evolving systems. Apart from my own projects, I am also highly keen on learning new technologies which I would research and attend courses to pick up. GovTech provides ample opportunities and funding for self-learning new technologies outside the scope of your projects.
Reflecting on your experience as a TAPper, what advice would you give to future participants in this program?
Jia Yi: From time to time when we are overwhelmed with our work responsibilities, we tend to overlook the networking and development opportunities laid ahead of us. At times like this we may become too focused on present and fail to recognise the value of such chances. One should not take them for granted and instead we should take full advantage, even when the benefits may not be immediately apparent.
Riaz: I think both GovTech and TAP provide tons of opportunities. It is up to us as an individual to discern which opportunities will induce growth and grab those opportunities. Personally, one of the opportunities I took was to give a presentation in Suntec during the Smart Nation & Digital Government Industry Briefing 2023. This was an eye-opening experience as I learnt about the industries that work closely with GovTech. My advice to future GovTechies would be to keep a lookout for these opportunities and take them if you think that they will be beneficial for your growth.
Interested in being a TAPper?
At GovTech, we’re always looking for people who are passionate about using technology to better the lives of Singaporeans. So if you think you fit the bill, we’d like to hear from you. Typically, our applications typically open from July to August of every year – so you’re a little early. That said, you can join our Talent Community to stay in touch with us and get notified when applications open in 2024. For other enquiries, you can also write to AreYouIT@tech.gov.sg