Defence tech focus at student congress

SINGAPORE - Robots, rockets and rooms mapped by smartphone were among the defence technology projects on show on Tuesday at a congress for budding secondary-school scientists.

"There are many new frontiers waiting to be explored" in defence science, said Minister of State for Defence Mohamad Maliki Osman, at the Young Defence Scientists Programme (YDSP) Congress, held at the Orchard Hotel. "Unmanned technologies and robotics are one such area."

At the Congress, Dr Maliki presented bond-free cash scholarships and academic awards to 88 secondary school students who had excelled in mathematics and science.

Some of the 400 or so Year4 and 5 students in Integrated Programme schools - the equivalent of Secondary4 and JC1 - who took part in the YDSP also presented their research projects at the Congress.

The programme, organised by the Defence Science and Technology Agency and Defence Science Organisation, offers students research opportunities and science camps in defence science and technology.

Defence Science and Technology Agency project engineer Sharon Ang, 26, mentored a pair of students working on mapping indoor environments with smartphone sensors. She commented: "The YDSP is good because students get exposed to engineering before university; that will probably help ignite their interest in engineering."

NUS High Year5 student Garett Tok, 16, explained how they compared data from lightweight, low-cost smartphone sensors with that from commercial ones, and found the smartphone sensors gave nearly as accurate information about a user's speed and location.

In future, he added, each soldier in a group might carry a smartphone and their combined data could be used to create a complete map of an indoor space.

His classmate Girish Kumar, 16, said that despite some frustrating moments wrestling with computer code, he liked working with cutting-edge technology and "gaining insight into how the defence ecosystem works".

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