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Using her problem-solving skills to create cutting-edge defence technology
By Bryant Chan
As a DSTA scholar, Ms Jamie Kan has been invaluable in the development of multiple technologies that are used by the Republic of Singapore Navy. PHOTO: WINSTONCHUANG

DSTA scholar Jamie Kan is part of the team safeguarding Singapore’s maritime borders, developing sonar systems for the Navy’s Invincible-class submarines 

Quite literally, Ms Jamie Kan has her finger on the pulse of technology. After all, she develops sonar (short for “Sound Navigation and Ranging”) systems for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Invincible-class submarines.

Putting into practice the academic knowledge she had acquired ever since she learnt about the basic concept of wave theory in A level physics classes, the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) scholar now works with sonar technology – that is, using sonic pulses to “ping” and locate subsurface objects.


Ms Kan has been invaluable in the development of multiple technologies that are being used by the RSN.

It all began with a summer internship at DSTA’s Naval Systems Programme Centre where she worked on a project involving sonar signals for navigation. Guided by knowledgeable mentors, she was given many opportunities for hands-on technology development.

As part of the pioneer batch of scholars to participate in the Global Internship Programme, she got to spend four weeks with missile developer MBDA in France. She says it was fascinating to see how the theories she had learnt in her Control Engineering modules at university were applied in the real world.

There, she not only learnt about the development and manufacturing process of missile systems from global industry experts, but she even built a simulation model of a missile autopilot computer to study guidance, control and navigation algorithms.

Exposure to the French working environment also taught her a great deal about the nuances of work culture between Singapore and France.

“Having an appreciation of such nuances is helpful even today, as DSTA collaborates often with the world’s top technology and defence firms,” she says.

Ms Kan was so inspired by her experience that she decided to further her studies at Imperial College London’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, eventually graduating with a Master of Science in Communications and Signal Processing – all supported by the DSTA Scholarship.

After she graduated, Ms Kan conducted research on advanced naval technologies in DSO National Laboratories as part of the DSTA’s Work Exposure Programme. A year later, she was posted to DSTA’s Naval Systems Programme Centre. As a programme manager, she oversees the integration and delivery of new technological capabilities to the RSN.

As an extension of her work during her university internship, she was closely involved in the development of the sonar systems of the RSN’s latest Invincible-class submarines, providing submariners with enhanced situational awareness.

In addition, she also played a crucial role in ensuring that the sonar could interface seamlessly with other combat and platform systems – a process that provided opportunities to travel to Germany while it was being developed.


Such is the varied nature of her work. One day she might be discussing projects with commercial technology partners or RSN personnel in the boardroom, but the next day she might be inspecting production of equipment at a factory or observing operators’ workflow aboard an RSN naval vessel.

However, Ms Kan relishes the ability to take on these new challenges and trusts her team to come alongside to help tackle them together.

“In defence tech, there are always new areas to explore and something new to learn,” she says. “Technology is always evolving – and so are we!”

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