[FEATURED NEWS] Grooming Future Leaders in Security Science and Tech

You are hired for one job and what you do is to keep the pedal to the metal, working hard to get better at it, right?

Not if you were hired at HTX and got selected to join its S&T Associates Programme.

Associates at HTX are given the chance to explore the latest cutting-edge technologies, get hands-on exposure in diverse security domains, and lead projects to build up their expertise.

Said HTX’s Human Resource Director Lim Tze Min, “The young graduates who apply to HTX want to apply the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills they studied in school, to the worthwhile mission of making life safer for Singaporeans. We hope to fan this passion and grow them to become leaders and tech visionaries who can shape the future of how science and technology can exponentially impact Singapore’s safety and security.”

Tailored for STEM graduates with less than three years of working experience, the possible fields which the associates can dive into are multifarious.

These include biometrics and profiling; cybersecurity; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives; digital and information forensics; marine systems; robotics, automation and unmanned systems; sense-making and surveillance; and more.

Associates will take on challenging projects in these domains under the guidance of specialists and lead one greenfield project on their own, to build up their portfolios. They will also have access to various forms of training, such as technical courses and overseas learning trips.

From Ideas to Reality

And it’s not just theory.

The Associates get to see how their ideas work on the ground, in everyday homeland security operations, which is critical to their understanding of user perspective.

They would have the opportunity to speak to or observe officers from the Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defence Force, Central Narcotics Bureau, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), and other Singapore security agencies.

Said one associate, Clara Ho, a Data Scientist, “Being in HTX’s Data Science and AI Centre of Expertise (DSAI CoE) has exposed me to problems that our Home Team Departments face, some of which are potentially solvable with the use of AI.” She added that figuring out the best AI solutions and techniques and deepening her knowledge in the field is a key highlight for her at DSAI.

HTX Associate Clara
Clara at work (Photo: HTX)

At HTX, she also had the opportunity to work on another project with the Sense-making & Surveillance CoE, which involved applying Computer Vision techniques to perform crowd estimation.

“This allows agencies to be informed when crowded situations arise, which may impact the health and safety of fellow Singaporeans during this COVID-19 crisis. It was really fulfilling as not only did my work have positive impact on society, it also broadened my exposure,” she said.

Likewise, another Associate, Ng Hui Lian from HTX’s Biometrics & Profiling (B&P) CoE, finds her work interesting as it allows her to collaborate with counterparts from the ICA and vendors to develop innovative solutions for frontline operations at the checkpoints.

HTX Associate Hui Lian
Ng Hui Lian (Photo: HTX)

This includes improving automated fingerprint scanning, to make it more convenient and quicker for travellers to pass through the checkpoints without compromising on security.

Said Hui Lian, “Fingerprinting is a widely used biometric. There are multiple factors that can affect the quality of latent print, such as skin condition, humidity, and pressure. That’s why we are exploring the use of contactless fingerprinting as an alternate fingerprint acquisition mode, in addition to the increasing awareness of hygiene during COVID-19.”

A Learning Incubator

Supported by a nurturing environment, the associates are encouraged to learn all that they can – whether it be through formal courses, industry exposure, or speaking to their more experienced colleagues.

For instance, while Hui Lian studied Life Sciences with a minor in Forensic Science at the National University of Singapore, she had to learn about coding and other technicalities from her senior colleagues and supervisor.

“I truly appreciate the guidance from my colleagues and supervisors as I learn on the job. At HTX, no question is ever too small or invalid,” said Hui Lian.

B&P SPF200 ExhibitionHui Lian (second from left) and her B&P colleagues at the SPF200 Exhibition for a team bonding outing (Photo: Ng Hui Lian)

Clara agreed. Having studied computer engineering at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, she had to consult her colleagues when she was assigned to work on a Natural Language Processing project with the Singapore Prison Service.

Clara said, “The open, friendly culture at HTX gives me the autonomy to do my work. It allows me to determine my own pace for development and sharpening of skills.”

DSAIClara (extreme right, back row) with her DSAI colleagues at a volunteering retreat (Photo: Clara Ho)

Such is the culture of support and opportunity here that will encourage our young officers to independently develop their own passions and skillsets, and rise up to their roles in the future leadership.

To learn more about our young Associates’ experiences at the different HTX Centres of Expertise, read the stories of Daphne (Cybersecurity), Matthew (CBRNE), Ying Qi (Human Factors & Simulation), Yong Wee (Trials & Experimentation), and Zan Xin (CBRNE).