Since he joined the defence industry 20 years ago, his family has little idea what he does.
Given the sensitive nature of Mr Chung Kam Sam's engineering work with the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), it is understandable.
But his family caught a glimpse of his work yesterday when he and his team were awarded the Defence Technology Prize (DTP).
Started in 1989, the DTP is awarded annually to those who have made significant technological contributions to Singapore's defence sector.
Before this year, 86 projects had been recognised. Of that, 74 have been operationalised and deployed.
Mr Chung's team was one of five teams to receive the award. Three other individuals were also recognised.
This is Mr Chung's third DTP. He was previously commended for his work with patrol vessels and frigates.
This time, he and his team developed upgrades for the Republic of Singapore Navy's missile corvette, a 62m-long warship. The improvements include installing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system on the ship and enhanced sensors for better surveillance.
These upgrades will help extend the lifespan of the ageing warships, he said.
Mr Chung, who is the team leader and a programme manager for naval systems with DSTA, said his team had been working on this project since 2009. It was completed about four years later.
He added that installing the UAV launcher and a recovery system for the drone on the ship was especially tricky.
"There isn't much space on the ship's deck to begin with, and the launcher has to face away from the ship when launching the UAV," he said.
With no precedents to study from, the team got their "eureka" moment when they came up with the idea of a rotatable launcher, he said.
This way, the launcher is able to face away from the ship when the UAV is launched and then rotate back to its original position.
Another DTP recipient, Ms Lee Yoke Ming, 49, developed safer explosives for storage, handling and deployment.
Ms Lee, who is from the Advanced Technology Research Centre, said that some stored ammunition may detonate if exposed to heat or shock.
So she developed a type of special explosive that would merely burn under the same circumstances.
Other recipients of the DTP yesterday included Defence Science Organisation's Mr Harry Han, who developed better communications and tactical networking equipment, and DSTA's Mr Tan Ah Tuan, who improved the Armed Forces' cyber defence systems.
Mr Chung said he was honoured to be a recipient of the DTP. "It is tough not being able to share my work with my wife, but we have other common interests that we can talk about," he added.
It is tough not being able to share my work with my wife, but we have other common interests that we can talk about.
- Mr Chung Kam Sam on the sensitive nature of his engineering work with DSTA
DIGITAL BATTLE AGAINST ISIS CRUCIAL
The fight against militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extends to the digital front, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.
He was speaking about the crucial role of technology at the Defence Technology Prize (DTP) ceremony yesterday.
"Not surprising then that even international terrorists are using social media for their cause," he said.
"They've learnt who are the people with superficial understanding of religion, how to package their products to suck you into false ideologies to bring you over to Iraq and Syria."
There are about 10,000 to 20,000 foreigners reportedly in Iraq and Syria, many of whom might join ISIS, he added.
This is where agencies in the security sector must come together to counter these false ideologies.
"What's the most powerful weapon? It's really what people believe in. What people believe in will affect their resolve, their actions that come out from it," he said.
As such, Dr Ng called on the defence technology community to collaborate with others on the Internet like how they do in the real world. He said the Religious Rehabilitation Group has been actively countering the spread of extremism by promoting awareness of Islam's true values.
"They do it in real life. But how do we do it on social media?" he asked.
"It's as important a challenge as in the real world. Because this is a digital battle. It cannot be won by analog means only."
This article was first published on Nov 08, 2014.
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