Chances are, if you have the passion and drive to change the way we live our lives with infocomm, the NIS awarded by the IDA is the scholarship for you. We speak to two NIS recipients and find out how they are out to change Singapore and the world.
By Ernest Eng
“Now is the era of change. The infocomm industry extends beyond computer science to include economics, law, and public policy. Being a National Infocomm Scholar gives me the amazing opportunity to transform Singapore’s infocomm industry,” Amanda Chew Qian Yi enthuses.
Liang Yinwei, who recently graduated from Stanford University under the National Infocomm Scholarship (NIS) programme, shares Amanda’s sentiments.
“A good testament to the impact that infocomm has had on my own life would be the incredible amount of time spent on the Internet each day, be it chatting to friends on Skype, connecting with old ones through Facebook, watching videos on Youtube, or playing online games like Starcraft,” the 25-year-old, who is currently serving his bond with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), attests.
Driving All Sectors of the Economy
What differentiates Yinwei and Amanda from your average Facebook and Youtube user is the innate passion and desire to contribute to Singapore’s infocomm development.
Indeed, infocomm has penetrated almost every facet of the average Singaporean’s life.
Household access to broadband has reached 80 percent in 2009 and Singapore’s mobile phone penetration now stands at more than 100 percent.
That means the average Singaporean has more than one mobile phone.
Singaporeans can also now expect ultra-fast internet delivered via fibre optics with island-wide connectivity and enjoy improved flexibility of e-transactions, just some of the work done behind the scenes by IDA.
Established in 1 December 1999, IDA aims to transform the country into a dynamic global infocomm hub and to leverage infocomm for Singapore’s economic and social development.
The organisation plays four key roles in driving Singapore’s transformation into An Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015), A Global City, Powered by Infocomm.
These roles include developing the Singapore’s infocomm industry, being the Chief Information Officer for the Government, enabling the transformation of the country’s economic sectors like healthcare, education, and finance as well as enriching the people sector through infocomm.
Amanda is excited to be able to play a part in the transformation of Singapore into a global infocomm hub.
“Today, more than ever, the world needs thinkers who can perceive the inter-related complexities, make imaginative connections, and have the flexibility of mind to adapt,” Amanda says.
“My dream is to create programmes that will improve the lives of others, especially in the biomedical field.”
The 19-year-old is on the path to achieving this dream with the help of the NIS.
Opportunities at prestigious organisations
Launched by IDA in 2004, the NIS offers recipients the unique opportunity to work in a wide spectrum of sectors that range from banking and finance, hospitality, retail, and healthcare.
Scholars will also be able to select from a varied list of participating organisations for sponsorship during their studies. This list features leading multi-national companies, local firms, and government bodies.
Amanda’s tenacity and ambition landed her a sponsorship with Microsoft, where she will be serving her bond after completing her Computer Science degree at Brown University.
Amanda needs only to look at her fellow counterpart, Yinwei, to see what the future holds for her.
Embarking upon a career with IDA, Yinwei is excited to contribute to the infocomm industry with his new role as Assistant Manager in the Interconnection and Access Division.
He deals with inter-operator issues between the different telecommunication operators, such as the regulation of prices and ensuring fair and competitive market conditions for industry players.
One such project which his division worked on was the establishment of the Full Mobile Number Portability in 2008, a solution which allows consumers to keep their mobile number even when they switch operators.
This empowered consumers with greater flexibility to choose among the myriad of offerings from mobile operators.
“IDA offers an incredible variety of roles for me to contribute, be it crafting policy that affects the development of ICT in Singapore, interacting with industry players, or deploying infocomm projects that touch the lives of every Singaporean,” Yinwei reveals.
World class education
Yinwei is also grateful to IDA for allowing him to pursue his studies in the US, regarded as “a hotbed of technology innovation.”
After receiving his degree in Economics from the Wharton School of Business, IDA gave him the opportunity to complete his Masters in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University.
Indeed, the NIS offers excellent candidates the chance to get sponsorship all the way through to their postgraduate studies.
Making a real difference to the world
Both Amanda and Yinwei will play a pivotal role in IDA’s vision of iN2015.
“Having the opportunity to work with the pioneers of technology translates into power, and I love this incredible sense of empowerment,” Amanda says.
The proud citizen hopes to shape Singapore’s infocomm landscape in the future and change the world.
“It has always been my dream to create a programme that will be used by the entire world. I want to contribute my verse to Singapore, and leave behind my own legacy. That fulfils my responsibility not only as a citizen of Singapore, but also as a citizen of the world,” the scholar articulates.
Yinwei harbours the same feelings as Amanda and advises those keen on applying for the NIS that they must have the willingness to serve and more importantly, want to make an impact.
For graduates interested in the NIS, Yinwei also lets on that besides demonstrating a keen interest in IT, you also have to work and play well with others.
“Something I’ve come to realise is that people play a huge role at the workplace and having great colleagues can make all the difference between a stressful or mundane job to an exciting one,” Yinwei says.
Amanda wholeheartedly agrees with Yinwei and feels that an inextinguishable sense of creativity can do wonders.
“We need to build on each other’s ideas and strengths for it is a collaborative effort. It also important to have a spirit of inquiry and an insatiable desire for improvement so that you may constantly challenge current technologies to invent better and more efficient ones,” Amanda concludes.