Digital Garage opens at Tanjong Pagar CC

When housewife Sreelatha Menon, 68, got her first smartphone two years ago, she used it only to make phone calls and send short text messages as she felt overwhelmed by all the new technology it offered.

But she went from tech newbie to coder yesterday, when she programmed a simple microchip called a micro:bit to flash a greeting using LED lighting.

Madam Menon was one of 20 participants at the first official workshop held at Singapore's first Digital Garage, which opened at Tanjong Pagar Community Club yesterday.

The garage is the first dedicated community space put aside for workshops on basic coding and digital making, and is the latest initiative under the Info-communications Media Development Authority's (IMDA) Digital Maker programme.

"I've heard a lot about the new digital future, so I wanted to learn something new, and not get left behind," said Madam Menon.

Those who sign up for workshops there can also learn how to make things like automated water sprinklers or step trackers. A key component is teaching participants how to program and use the micro:bit, which forms the brains of the gadgets participants get to build.

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah, who opened the garage, said: "This project is a step for Singapore on its journey towards a digital, creative and smart nation."

"So when IMDA first brought up the idea of the Digital Maker programme and bringing it to the community, I immediately put my hand up and asked if Tanjong Pagar could be the first location for the garage," she said.

The garage is equipped with laptops, drills and a hot-glue gun. Workshops cost between $10 and $18. Participants get to keep their $30 micro:bit micro-controller, which they can reuse and re-program for future projects.

The Digital Maker programme aims to distribute 100,000 micro:bits to students and adults over the next two years. Almost 80 schools have signed up for it since its launch this April.

IMDA is in talks with other CCs on further digital-maker collaborations, which could be a similar digital garage or something different, said IMDA's senior director for digital readiness cluster Koh Li-Na.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 09, 2017, with the headline 'Digital Garage opens at Tanjong Pagar CC'. Print Edition | Subscribe