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Engineer-turned-photographer eyes switch to digital field with AI skills

Mr Zack Wong has completed a polytechnic tech immersion course to pick up AI skills in order to fulfil his long-term plan of working in the digital field, particularly in relation to computer vision and imaging.
Mr Zack Wong has completed a polytechnic tech immersion course to pick up AI skills in order to fulfil his long-term plan of working in the digital field, particularly in relation to computer vision and imaging.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Artificial intelligence (AI) has not taken over the world yet, but former engineer Zack Wong is preparing himself for this brave new future.

Mr Wong, 43, recently did a tech immersion course at Republic Polytechnic to pick up AI skills. He has also learnt programming and coding.

This is a far cry from how he started his career - working as an engineer dealing with the repair development of aircraft engine components.

He then switched to supply chain operations within the same industry and oversaw the coordination of material supply between the operations, inventory and purchasing departments.

Mr Wong left that behind to branch out into photography at a boutique creative agency. He produced images that were used in editorials, commercials and advertisements.

But both the creative industry and his old aviation sector were hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Covid-19 situation has... forced many to look for other jobs to sustain (themselves). I was just one of the many. I was looking to return to the aerospace industry but it was also going down due to the cut in flights and lockdowns," Mr Wong told The Straits Times.

"I wanted to upgrade and reskill myself with new knowledge in the growing industry of AI. With the downscaling of my company and the loss of projects, I found myself at a crossroads - whether to continue to be a resident photographer or upgrade with new skills, especially in this digital era of cloud and AI."

Mr Wong hopes that these skills will help him fulfil his long-term plan of working in the digital field, particularly in relation to computer vision and imaging, although he acknowledged there will be challenges.

 
 
 
 

"It is especially difficult for mid-career switchers like me, especially when we have only less than three months of experience and knowledge, and companies are reluctant to give us opportunities," he said.

"I have attended quite a few courses and webinars as well in order to keep myself updated on the current job market requirements."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2020, with the headline 'Engineer-turned-photographer eyes switch to digital field with AI skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe