From AI to cloud technology, these millennials reskilled to ride Singapore’s digitalisation wave

Dr Pamela Lin, 31, a senior engineer at Infineon who already had a PhD but decided to pursue a lower course in a master's programme in technology to learn AI, something she has never done. ― TODAY pic
Dr Pamela Lin, 31, a senior engineer at Infineon who already had a PhD but decided to pursue a lower course in a master's programme in technology to learn AI, something she has never done. ― TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Jan 21 — While working as an engineer at electronics manufacturing company Infineon Technologies, Dr Pamela Lin realised that artificial intelligence (AI) could help optimise production processes.

For example, when equipment breaks down, technicians would usually troubleshoot to determine the cause of the malfunction before repairing the equipment.

However, with AI, data can be used to predict and diagnose the failure, removing the need to troubleshoot so that technicians can focus on repair work.

The potential of AI spurred Dr Lin, now 31, to take up a master’s degree, despite already having spent five years pursuing her higher level PhD in mechanical engineering from the Nanyang Technological University.

“People asked me: If I have a PhD, why do you go back to do a master’s?” she said. “It’s not really (about) the qualification, but the knowledge itself.”

She joined Infineon in November 2017, after completing her PhD, and is now a senior engineer leading the backend industrial engineering team’s advanced data analytics team at the German firm.

She first got insight into how AI can help the manufacturing industry after taking short courses in areas like big data analytics and statistics shortly after joining Infineon.

When her colleagues told her about the National University of Singapore-Institute of System Science’s Master of Technology in Intelligent Systems, she decided to sign up for the programme since the knowledge she gained would help with her job.

From January 2019, she spent her Saturdays on the part-time master’s programme, and recently completed the degree this month.

“I feel like going into this two-year master’s programme actually accelerated my capability development in this AI domain,” she said.

Dr Lin is among a rising number of millennials who are riding the local digitalisation push, as Singapore presses ahead with its ambitions to become a more advanced technology hub.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) highlighted the stories of such millennials to reskill for the tech sector in its year-in-review report released yesterday.

Muhammad Khairunnizam Lukman, 34, at his home on January 20, 2021. ― TODAY pic
Muhammad Khairunnizam Lukman, 34, at his home on January 20, 2021. ― TODAY pic

Retrenched due to Covid-19, but reskilling to enter tech

Another of these millennials is Muhammad Khairunnizam Lukman, 34. After working in his corporate sales job for more than a year, he was retrenched in March 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19.

He then chanced upon an advertisement for Skills Ignition SG, a programme by Google, the Infocomm Media Development Authority, SkillsFuture SG and EDB that equips trainees with skills in digital marketing or cloud technology.

Currently, 1,650 participants are enrolled in the six-month vocational training course, with 60 per cent of participants aged 40 and above.

Lukman was initially hesitant about signing up, as he had not worked in the information technology (IT) sector despite graduating with a diploma in business IT.

However, after his brother told him that cloud technology was a high-demand area, Lukman became motivated to leverage his previous experience with IT and sign up for the programme’s vocational training course in cloud technology.

“And when I saw that this is something our Government also supported, it gave me a sense of confidence that this should be the direction I need to move forward in,” he said.

He is now in the fourth month of the six-month programme and receives a monthly training allowance of S$1,500 (RM4,576).

For Lukman, one of the biggest challenges was readjusting to the IT sector after leaving it for so long.

For example, he used programming language Java when studying for his diploma, but now has to learn Python, an entirely new language, for the cloud technology course.

After he completes the programme, he hopes to work as a cloud architect.

“I do believe that with the certification that I have and the right positive attitude, I should be able to get a job,” he said. ― TODAY

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