Protecting Our Nation With R&D

Scholarship Guide DSTA Scholar Davin Choo Xianjun

Davin Choo specialises in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques to tackle defence-related problems.

Having a passion for defence, R&D and wanting to relieve the parents of my university education costs was what spurred me to apply for the DSTA Scholarship.

The scholarship gave me the opportunity to pursue double degrees in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at NUS, paving a career in the Defence Technology Community (DTC). Upon graduation, I started working at DSO National Laboratories where I could continue my passion for research. It is heartening to know that our work in the DTC impacts our national defence and that it positively affects the lives of our fellow Singaporeans, loved ones, and ultimately ourselves.

At DSO, I work in the Cognitive Fusion Lab of the Information Exploitation group under the Information Division. Our work uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques to tackle defence-related problems. For example, some of my colleagues perform social network analysis and sentiment analysis to find and track suspected terrorists. The collaboration projects I’m involved in are with the Information Security group on cryptanalysis and reverse engineering. My role has two parts; evaluate the security and strength of cryptographic protocols and to apply Artificial Intelligence techniques to uncover patterns and insights about the object of interest.

Beyond the typical project work, DSO staff are often sent for courses to further deepen their expertise. In addition, senior members of the Army, Navy and Air Force are often invited to share with us the operational needs of the SAF to ensure that research efforts in DSO are in sync. In August 2017, I had the privilege to attend two international conferences on Artificial Intelligence in Melbourne. The conferences were a great opportunity to get in contact with leading experts in the field and learn from them.

All in all, DSO is an exciting place to work in. There is a sense of purpose in the work that we do here. As an applied research company, one of the main goals of DSO is to transit theoretical research results into actual products and capabilities that can be used by the SAF. There is a huge sense of satisfaction when you see your work being put to practical use. While the work is interesting, what drives me most on a daily basis is the people I interact with at DSO. The staff at DSO are full of energy and the seniors are very nurturing. I often revel in the lively whiteboard discussions over technical challenges and the joyous banter about life during breaks.

DSTA Scholarship
Attained: Double Degrees in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from NUS
Now: Defence Research Engineer in DSO National Laboratories, Information Division
From: Temasek JC