With a growing and changing demand for jobs in the digital space, a Master of Technology in Intelligent Systems at the Institute of Systems Science, National University of Singapore (NUS-ISS) has helped Mr Tan Ren Jie gain a competitive edge
BY MARIANNE TAN
July 7, 2021
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore has been an advocate of digitalisation — in the workplace and within the community. Today, demand for the relevant tech capabilities has grown exponentially in tandem with the needs of this digital transformation.
According to the latest Jobs On The Rise report by LinkedIn, the acceleration of Singapore’s digital transformation has led to a demand for workers who are proficient in data science and other tech-related disciplines, It has also led to an increase in demand for people like Mr Tan Ren Jie who are armed with the latest skills and knowledge to handle the changing digital needs and landscape.
Mr Tan, 29, enrolled in the Master of Technology in Intelligent Systems (MTech IS) postgraduate programme in 2019 as a part-time student. Offered by NUS-ISS, the programme is targeted at working professionals who want to design and build systems that utilise artificial intelligence and other smart systems techniques. It covers a wide application area, such as robotics and intelligent sensing systems – thus priming students with the knowledge and practical experience to provide effective business solutions.
Mr Tan, who completed the MTech IS programme last June, is now a data scientist at e-commerce company Shopee. He shares how the programme has helped him advance his career in the world of data science.
You graduated with a degree in physics. Why did you embark on this particular postgraduate programme?
I have always been interested in learning data science. I took up a few online courses and even joined a coding bootcamp. Eventually, I wanted to get formal qualifications in this area, and decided to enroll in MTech IS on a part-time basis.
What were some of the highlights of the MTech IS programme?
The scope of our projects were well-defined, but yet general enough to be applicable to different areas in our daily lives. For example, a project mate, who is also an avid volunteer, pointed out that it was difficult to look for volunteering opportunities in Singapore. So we developed a working prototype called VMatch that was able to recommend suitable opportunities for interested volunteers based on attributes such as age and skill sets.
What does your role as data scientist at Shopee entail?
I worked on the Face Anti-spoofing project to build a full-fledged in-house e-KYC (Know Your Customer) solution for marketplace and financial products on Shopee and [digital payments and financial services provider] SeaMoney.
How has the course allowed you to do your job better?
MTech IS covers a wide variety of technologies and techniques, and provides a comprehensive understanding of big data, data warehousing, Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) processes, database design – skills that are essential to any data professional. This has helped me greatly in my time at Shopee, as I have to deal with millions of data on a daily basis. Also, as many of MTech IS courses are hands-on, we ended up with a GitHub (software development platform) account of working prototype codes that I can use as a starter code for projects. If you are job-hunting, having this helps make your job application stand out.
What advice would you give to those looking to embark on postgraduate studies in this field?
Doing a part-time master’s programme while holding a full-time job is not easy – time management is crucial. It is also important to have the right mentality, and set proper goals at the start and stick to them. Learning a scripting or coding language such as Python before enrolling into the programme is also highly recommended as you will be coding a lot. It is also important to be a part of a supportive company that encourages employees to constantly up-skill and augment their knowledge.
For more information on the NUS Master of Technology in Intelligent Systems programme, visit www.iss.nus.edu.sg/graduate-programmes/programme/detail/master-of-technology-in-intelligent-systems