Ten Singaporean undergraduates embarked on a learning journey to China to experience the latest telecommunication and network technologies from industry giant Huawei.
By Yan Ni Tan
Learning about cutting-edge technology and innovation from an industry giant like Huawei is a dream come true for many aspiring Infocomm Technology (ICT) professionals.
And in May 2018, 10 local ICT undergraduates under IMDA’s Industry Preparation for Pre-graduate (iPREP) Programme were given this rare opportunity when they embarked on a two-week learning journey to China under Huawei’s Seeds for the Future Programme.
This programme was designed to allow students to gain first-hand exposure to the competitive global tech landscape and support them in becoming industry-ready professionals.
This is the first year IMDA is collaborating with Huawei in selecting students to attend this programme – in line with the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative, which aims to develop ICT professionals with the critical tech skills.
The programme saw the group spending a week in Beijing experiencing Chinese culture, and another week at Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters learning about the latest developments in information technology (ICT).
IMpact chatted with three participants – Wu Yunheng, 26, majoring in Analytics, and Randall Heng, 23, majoring in Information Systems, from Singapore Management University, as well as Benjamin Ong, 23, who's taking Business Analytics at National University of Singapore – to unveil the inside story on this unique learning journey.
What are some of your key takeaways from the ICT courses at Huawei?
Randall: The courses allowed me to see how the Internet of Things (IoT), when complemented by 5G data transfer and predictive analytics, can change the way we allocate our resources and make life easier for everyone in future.
Benjamin: Visiting the enterprise exhibition centre at Huawei was an eye-opener as it helped me see how technologies I learnt about in school can be applied in a real-world, industrial setting.
Yunheng: It was inspiring to see for myself how Huawei was making waves in ICT areas like cloud computing, IoT and 5G technology. The experience reminded me that as aspiring IT professionals, we need to keep abreast of these new developments as well.
What were some challenges you faced during the learning journey?
Yunheng: We didn’t have much prior knowledge of concepts like 5G and networking before the trip, so that meant we had a lot of catching up to do during our classes at the Huawei headquarters. At one point, we had to learn about 50 new acronyms in a single day!
Benjamin: Thankfully, some of our newfound friends had experience in these areas and were able to help us grasp the concepts and new terminologies faster.
What was your most memorable experience during your time there?
Randall: Definitely our climb up the Great Wall of China. Getting up to the top of the Great Wall was a challenge, especially since some of us don’t even climb stairs in Singapore! It was exhausting but the views were simply amazing.
How has the Seeds for the Future Programme and iPREP prepared you better for your career after graduation?
Benjamin: The internships, talks and programmes under Seeds for the Future and iPrep have helped me tremendously in terms of bridging the gap between my school curriculum and understanding the skills the industry needs. For instance, this learning journey helped me understand how companies like Huawei can apply what I learn in business analytics across areas like cybersecurity and fraud detection.
Yunheng: Seeds for the Future and iPREP have also been integral platforms to make lasting connections with other aspiring ICT professionals and build a fundamental understanding of network structure so I’m better equipped to deal with future challenges in the industry.
What are your career aspirations moving forward?
Randall: I aspire to do technology consulting and also look forward to being able to participate in Smart City initiatives that can directly impact the lives of Singaporeans like myself.
Benjamin: I’m currently part of an early-stage tech start-up that aims to help SMEs in Singapore keep up with Smart City initiatives and adopt tech more easily. I hope to continue doing my part in transferring what I’ve learnt to these SMEs so they can be more efficient in applying technology to their businesses.
What are some tech developments in China which you think we can learn from?
Yunheng: This has to be the cashless payment systems that have permeated all levels of society. I vividly remember being stuck with using 1RMB coins to purchase my ticket at the train stations while everyone else was using WeChat Pay for cashless payment.
Randall: Cashless payment has become a necessity and lifestyle in China, but in Singapore, it takes us 20 separate apps to do what a single system like Alipay can do. With just a single app, you can hail a taxi, call a doctor, buy a movie ticket, and even plant a tree! It’ll be great if Singapore could adopt such a system as well to bring convenience to all our lives.
IMDA continues to invest in building a pipeline of industry-ready graduates entering the workforce. The iPREP Programme offers pre-graduates the opportunity to gain industry exposure and work experience through infocomm internships and industry projects, helping them develop relevant digital skillsets and technical competencies. Find out about iPREP Programme at www.imtalent.sg/iprep.