81 awarded first Singapore Digital Scholarship

Mr Nishok and Ms Farren Tang are among the 81 recipients of the Infocomm Media Development Authority's inaugural Singapore Digital Scholarship. Mr Nishok plans to major in film and production at university, while Ms Tang is pursuing a master's degree
Mr Nishok and Ms Farren Tang are among the 81 recipients of the Infocomm Media Development Authority's inaugural Singapore Digital Scholarship. Mr Nishok plans to major in film and production at university, while Ms Tang is pursuing a master's degree in computing.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Mr Nishok is a passionate film-maker whose goal is to direct his first feature by the age of 35, while Ms Farren Tang is a cyber-security analytics engineer at Singtel who is going back to school to sharpen her computing expertise.

Together, they represent the diverse range of talent that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) hopes to nurture through its inaugural Singapore Digital (SG:D) Scholarship.

Mr Nishok and Ms Tang were among the 81 recipients awarded scholarships yesterday.

The SG:D Scholarship combines the four previously offered by IMDA - the Infocomm Polytechnic, the National Infocomm, the Media Education and the National Cybersecurity Postgraduate scholarships.

IMDA received more than 1,000 applications for the SG:D Scholarship, up from about 600 across the four scholarships last year.

Mr Nishok, 23, who goes by one name, was among last year's unsuccessful applicants. But rejection turned out to be just the impetus he needed as he embarked on a flurry of activity by meeting other film-makers and working on his own projects.

"In this line, the rejection rate for festivals and film schools is around 90 per cent, and it's not talent but hard work and perseverance that matters the most," he said.

"My mum told me she didn't mind me taking a gap year but I had to make sure I kept myself busy. And that was the first question I was asked during the (scholarship) interview this year - what I have been up to since I last applied."

Mr Nishok is heading for the University of Westminster in London later this year to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film and production.

Ms Tang, 25, wanted to address a gap in her skill set after working for 18 months in the tech industry, including 10 months at the Singtel NUS Cyber Security CorpLab.

The Nanyang Technological University statistics graduate will pursue a master's in computing at the National University of Singapore.

"Working in cyber security helped me realise that you need strong skill sets in both statistics and computing," she said.

"I'm interested to see how things will evolve in automation and artificial intelligence. That's where a strong computing background comes in as it will help me develop better algorithms."

Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said at the awards ceremony at Marina Bay Sands that the digital economy creates opportunities for and needs talent in both the tech and non-tech sectors.

"The 200,000 infocomm media professionals employed in our economy are from both these sectors - from software engineers to storytellers, to data protection officers and game developers," said Mr Iswaran.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2019, with the headline '81 awarded first S'pore Digital Scholarship'. Print Edition | Subscribe