About 80 military Masters graduates and guests came together on 5 Nov for the Master of Defence Technology and Systems (MDTS) Seminar, where an integrated project presentation by the MDTS 2012 graduates was held.
Launched in 2001, the MDTS is a collaborative post-graduate dual-masters degree programme conducted by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and one of three world-renowned defence universities - namely NPS, the US Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) and the Cranfield University in the United Kingdom. the United States Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). Students study at NUS for six months before pursuing their specialisation for a year in one of the partner universities.
"These partner universities have professors who have designed and built systems used in real battlefields. Some of the systems are used in Afghanistan and there is even a professor who designed a system used in the Vietnam War!" enthused Professor Yeo Tat Soon.
The Director of Temasek Defence Systems Institute (TDSI) elaborated that through this partnership programme, students can tap on these foreign professors' expertise and experience as they knew what worked and what did not work in terms of military technology and design.
For Captain (CPT) Lim Zhi Feng, studying in NPS deepened his knowledge from the military perspective.
"The kind of things they teach there, involving military and technology, are very relevant and the quality of professors is really good."
During his stint in the US, the Weapons Staff Officer (Plans) from the Systems Integration Office embarked on a project involving Directed Energy Weapons (DEW), where electromagnetic waves were used to create energy beams strong enough to destroy targets. Together with his team of 23 personnel, they were tasked to study available existing DEW technologies which the US Navy had purchased but had yet to operationalise, assess them and recommend which are the ones that could be used on Navy ships.
CPT Lim, who specialised in systems engineering during his post-graduate studies, felt that DEW was a direction that the SAF could take up in the future.
"It definitely has a role to play in the military in the future. It was also good that we gained some understanding of it and we can help people understand it better by sharing our knowledge."
Besides sharpening the knowledge and expertise of graduates to understand the complexities of a modern military force, the flagship programme of TDSI also provided ample opportunities for local students to network and bond with their overseas counterparts.
Through interactions with his US Air Force course mates, one major takeaway Military Expert (ME) 5-1 Edmund Pek had was the strong appreciation of family support for the US military. He explained that spouses of military personnel were presented certificates of appreciation, regardless of their husbands' ranks.
"During my graduation, my wife also received her appreciation certificate. You can tell that the organisation really appreciates the families' support behind the servicemen," said ME5-1 Pek, who studied in AFIT.
The Officer Commanding (OC) of Aero-Systems and Propulsion Flight from the UAV Command's Air Engineering and Logistics Squadron (AELS) also intends to bring this culture back and "see how we can improve the way we conduct ourselves as officers and how we treat our men on the ground".
Twenty-two graduates from the class of 2012 were present at the sharing session held at the Engineering Auditorium at NUS. Students of the MDTS programme include personnel from the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and SAF, Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering Limited, the Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA) and DSO National Laboratories, as well as international students.