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Making every drop count

As an electrical and electronic engineer at national water agency PUB, Ivan Ong is constantly at the cutting edge of the technological frontier.

The 26-year old recipient of the National Environment and Water (NEW) Scholarship shares more about his scholarship experience and current role:

Why did you sign up for the scholarship?
During my first year in junior college in 2010, I did an internship at PUB. I was attached to the Water Supply Network department and conducted market research on novel leak detection technologies.

I enjoyed my internship, so I decided to apply for the NEW Scholarship. My parents also encouraged me to take up the scholarship when it was offered to me.

What, in particular, did you enjoy about your university education?
I completed my undergraduate and master’s degrees at Imperial College London in 2017, after which I returned to Singapore to begin work at the SMART PUB Program Office.

I really enjoyed the chance to study under and work with the brightest minds from all over the world. For example, the lecturer who taught my module in Machine Learning is now working at DeepMind, an artificial intelligence (AI) company owned by Google.

Many of my peers have also gone on to do PhDs in cutting-edge fields such as AI and Advanced Signal Processing. It was fascinating to work, study and play alongside the future technology leaders of the world.

Outside of class, I developed an interest in the performing arts. I watched world-class plays, musicals, and ballet and opera performances, and joined the college choir.

What exciting projects are you involved in now?
The SMART PUB Program Office is currently made up of eight officers. We meet various technology companies, ranging from established multinational corporations to local startups, to conduct trial runs and proof-of-concept prototyping.

I am currently developing an AI-enabled drone for site inspection and security in partnership with external companies.

There is quite a vibrant startup scene in Singapore in the area of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Part of my job involves meeting these companies to understand what they have to offer, and whether they can meet PUB’s needs.

If implemented well, UAV technology can enhance productivity and safety in our operations.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?
Given the speed of progress in fields such as AI and big data analytics, there is much to be optimistic about.

Personally, I hope to hone my technical expertise in such areas and contribute as much as I can.