Eng Huiling, Director (Technology Development), Simulation and Training Systems Center, Defense Science and Technology Agency, Singapore

How do you use technology / politics to improve the lives of citizens? Tell us about your role or your organization.

The Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) harnesses science and technology to enhance the capabilities of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) as a formidable fighting force. DSTA also brings its multidisciplinary expertise in areas ranging from cybersecurity, systems engineering to procurement and protection technologies, in support of developments at the national level.

In the Simulation and Training Systems Hub (STSH), we leverage the latest technologies such as modeling and simulation, extended reality, data analysis and artificial intelligence to experiment and develop new training concepts and capabilities for the SAF. For example, defense engineers at STSH used simulation technology to conceptualize the Coastline Mission’s Ship Simulation Center, an integrated one-stop-shop environment for realistic training scenarios. With the simulation center, the ship’s crew can train ashore without the need to navigate and in a wide range of challenging scenarios, in addition to live training.

I lead a team of passionate engineers and system architects to explore new technologies and innovations and in doing so develop strategies to achieve training capabilities for SAF. I also lead efforts to build partnerships and collaborations in key technology areas within the training and simulation ecosystem.

What has been the most significant project you have worked on recently?

The most impactful project has to be the development of a command and control (C2) system to support the country’s fight against Covid-19. In May 2020, at the height of the pandemic, the need for testing must have increased rapidly. Therefore, the Ministry of Health set up the Testing Operations Center (TOC) to aggregate national testing demands and centrally manage the allocation of testing capacity.

Working closely with other agencies, I led a team of DSTA engineers to develop a C2 system that enhanced TOC’s capabilities in managing large-scale test operations. The system provided insight into test demands and lab capacities, optimized demand-supply allocations, and also reduced the time to receive test results.

This project really showed how diverse and adaptable defense engineers are, and that we are always ready to contribute our expertise. I am also honored and pleased that the team’s efforts and contributions have been recognized with multiple awards: the prestigious 2021 Defense Technology Award, the 2021 IT Leaders Award and the Transformation Agility Awards. public sector 2021.

What is an unexpected learning of 2021?

I would say it’s the accelerated pace of digital transformation. Since the emergence of Covid-19, some overseas training has been postponed and as a result there has been an increased adoption of simulation training to maintain the skills of our soldiers and the readiness of the soldiers. strengths. In the workplace, we’ve also embraced the workplace IT transformation in our wake, with working from home becoming the new normal and teleconferencing tools becoming our primary mode of communication with our colleagues and stakeholders at work. .

What is your favorite memory from last year?

Memories of working on the TOC C2 project hold an important place in my professional life. We may have come from different agencies with different backgrounds and backgrounds, but we shared a common goal and a clear mission. This allowed us to continue an intense, exciting and rewarding journey, as we pooled our respective expertise for the design, development and resolution of the system. Through this process, we forged new friendships and connections that allowed us to continue to connect after the completion of this project.

What tool or technique are you eager to explore in 2022?

I am interested in exploring the concept of a “virtual instructor,” which involves using data to reshape the way our soldiers train today. Data insights associated with machine learning have the potential to enable us to train and assess performance in a more focused and objective manner, leading to an enhanced training experience. Hopefully this can allow us to tailor training for individual needs rather than a single training regimen, thus achieving an enhanced training experience.

What are your priorities for 2022?

I hope to devote more time to analyzing and experimenting with the technology. This is particularly important given the rapid pace of technological change and the new dimensions of risks and challenges that accompany it. The future battlespace will be a hybrid of kinetic and non-kinetic domains, and in the Singapore context, technology has been and always will be a force multiplier.

Who are the mentors and heroes that inspire you?

In the technological field, I am a fan of Dr Fei-Fei Li, co-director of the Human-Centered AI Institute at Stanford University, known for his work in artificial intelligence and in particular the ImageNet project. I remembered an interesting steamer from her TED talk where she said, “Little by little, we are giving the machines sight. First, we teach them to see. Then they help us see better. I have found this to be a very succinct way of explaining complex artificial intelligence concepts which also hints at the vast potential of the technology.

At DSTA, I am inspired and grateful for the mentorship received from many female engineers in leadership positions, such as Ms. Ngiam Le Na, Deputy Director General (Strategic Development) and Ms. Gayle Chan, Deputy Director General (Information). In fact, both have been recognized in the Singapore Computer Society’s “Singapore 100 Women in Tech List” for their significant contributions to the tech industry.

What wakes you up in the morning?

I’m motivated every day by the learning opportunities open to me, whether it’s to grasp a new technology concept or to hear refreshing perspectives on how technology can be a game-changer for defense. . Additionally, teamwork is important to me, and I enjoy interacting with many dedicated teams to solve challenges and find ways to do things better. I set small goals for myself every day, and achieving them gives me the personal satisfaction of moving forward.

Photo courtesy of DSTA.