Nurturing Young Minds
23 Apr 2019

From combating fake online news, securing digital transactions, harnessing robotics for explosives disposal and disaster relief, to experimenting with origami paper parachutes, students unleashed their creativity in devising technological solutions as part of the Young Defence Scientists Programme (YDSP). The year-long activities culminated at the YDSP Congress on 18 April 2019.

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Addressing over 400 students, parents and educators in attendance, Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How spoke about how Singapore faces “the constant challenge of preparing and equipping our SAF to meet future operational needs” and the important role the Defence Technology Community (DTC) plays in Singapore’s defence.

He also highlighted the value YDSP brings to the DTC: “YDSP has been a meaningful platform for nurturing the next generation of young defence scientists and engineers... I am confident that your passion and desire to challenge and stretch the limits of science and technology will one day allow you to play a part to shape Singapore’s exciting future.”

Mr Heng then presented 29 YDSP Scholarships and 30 DSTA Junior College Scholarships to students for their outstanding academic and co-curricular achievements during the Congress.

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During the ceremony, participants went on stage to present their projects, which ranged from a smart home prototype, origami parachutes to a solution for safer explosives disposal.

Mr Heng also toured the exhibits, and interacted with various students from the different schools. Among them was Liu Haohui from Raffles Institution, whose Research@YDSP project tackled the hot-button issue of fake news. Utilising data analytics techniques, she developed an algorithm that can verify the accuracy of online news. Her project won a Gold award at the Singapore Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF) 2019 and she will represent Singapore at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) – regarded by students as the “Olympics” of youth science competitions – in May 2019.

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When asked why she decided to embark on such a project, she replied: “I think that fake news is something that is quite rampant right now. So when my mentor mentioned such a project, I jumped at the chance!”

Her mentor, Senior Engineer (National Security) Ryan Tarn, said: “Haohui’s project has many potential real-life benefits and is just one of the many possibilities of how data analytics can be used in the context of national security.”

Another SSEF Gold winner who will also represent Singapore at the Intel ISEF is Natalie Yam from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent). Her project leveraged various origami folding patterns to create a compact, self-deploying parachute suitable for disaster relief operations.

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Wee Chun Hui from Victoria Junior College introduced her novel method to enhance the safety of explosives disposal. She programmed a stereo camera and infrared sensor system to aid operators in controlling robotic arms with greater precision.

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Senior Engineer (Land Systems) Brandon Chia, who mentored Chun Hui for her project, shared: “YDSP is a unique experience that gives students the opportunity to learn about interesting technology concepts and even have hands-on experience building prototypes! What they learn goes beyond what is taught in their school curriculum, so it’s very beneficial for them.”

Since its inception in 1992, YDSP has focused on practical and immersive learning beyond the classroom and equipping students with hands-on experience in the vast applications of defence science and technology. Last year, more than 350 students across 19 schools participated in project attachments, lectures and laboratory sessions as part of the Research@YDSP, YDSP Science and Technology camps and World of Science. They had the opportunity to learn concepts and explore applications of the latest technological advances, ranging from artificial intelligence, cryptography, the Internet of Things and more.

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