Computer whizz from Temasek Poly among 80 who receive MCI scholarships

When he was in Primary 1, Mr Kelvin Ang hacked into his school's computer to surf the Internet, which pupils were barred from using. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN
When he was in Primary 1, Mr Kelvin Ang hacked into his school's computer to surf the Internet, which pupils were barred from using. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

When he was in Primary 1, Mr Kelvin Ang hacked into his school's computer to surf the Internet, which pupils were barred from using.

By the time he was a teenager, he was creating computer viruses and testing them out on his older sister's computer. "When I get to an area of restricted access, I have this curiosity and a tendency to want to circumvent it," admitted the Temasek Polytechnic graduate, 23.

But he is no criminal. On Thursday, he was one of 80 recipients of scholarships from the Ministry of Communication and Information and its agencies, such as the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and Media Development Authority.

When he gets his computer engineering degree from the National University of Singapore, Mr Ang may work on security matters for StarHub, which is co-sponsoring him under the National Infocomm Scholarship scheme with IDA.

Singapore, he believes, needs its own army to defend cyberspace - an area he wants to contribute in. "If a primary school kid like me can already disrupt lessons, can you imagine what an adult with malicious intent can do?"

StarHub is also, for the first time, sponsoring two students who will study data analytics-related subjects. Understanding large and complex sets of customer data will eventually help the telco "better tailor products for customers, rather than us trying to push products down their throats", said Mr Stephen Lee, its head of I3 (innovation, investment and incubation).

Companies such as SingTel and ST Electronics are also looking to nurture young talent who have a strong interest in areas like cybersecurity and data analytics, said Mr Andrew Khaw, IDA's senior director for industry development group. "We're encouraging kids to learn how to ask the questions in terms of analytics and play with sophisticated tools in terms of security."

Miss Tan Shi Hui, 20, who was awarded the National Infocomm Scholarship to study information management for business at the University College London, said data analytics is not all about numbers. "It's "about being curious about what people like and want. And then being able to use the information to make predictions and better decisions."