Afuture positioned to be visually stimulating, digitally exciting and vibrantly interactive, the tools are prepped and polished for the next generation of engineers and developers at DigiPen (Singapore).
His first stint in the corporate world as a 3D artist opened his eyes to the demands and direction of technology in smart nations. Wilson Phoo Yong Koon then decided to take matters into his own hands and ventured to this higher education institution to pursue a degree that will secure him for his professional future.
What were your motivations for studying at DigiPen (Singapore)?
It was mainly for the four intensive graphics modules. There were no other schools focusing this much on graphics. I think graphics rendering is very important in this era as it gives a better visualization of data. The school also focuses on C/C++, which I feel is beneficial for learning, as you are forced to learn lower level concepts which are abstracted away in Java. Despite many companies using Java, I feel having mastery over C++ helps problem solving in the future, as you will have a greater wealth of knowledge to draw from.
Explain a little more about your concentration - real-time interactive simulation (RTIS).
RTIS trains us to program 2D/3D applications that are real-time yet visually appealing. We learn to create modules that mimic the laws of physics in the natural world, such as real-world forces that cause collisions, which further enhances realism in our applications. Advanced understanding of math and physics are required for mastery over these applications.
What made you choose to go back to school?
I did rigging for 3D models and wrote plenty of scripts for animators to use in my first job. The positive experience from just writing small programs that could seemingly create exponential value for others to automate their work gave me job satisfaction. I discovered the power of programming makes processes more scalable and easily replicable, saving manpower and other precious resources. This work experience enhanced my passion for programming, which inspired me to pursue higher education. DigiPen (Singapore) was a good fit as it has fortes in both art and programming.
Why is your degree so relevant to today’s world and visionary for tomorrow’s society?
Many countries including Singapore are moving towards smart nation innovations, which also increase demand for VR and AR technologies. These technologies are graphics-intensive and need to be optimised due to current hardware limitations like mobile and web platforms.
DigiPen (Singapore) emphasises on learning base-level concepts which allow you to understand at machine-level better, and thus be better at optimisation. As game programming is intensive on machines, all these skills learned in theory are fully utilised in my job to create optimal solutions for real world problems.
Wilson Phoo Yong Koon
Software Engineer, AP Origin
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (Real-Time Interactive Simulation)
How has your degree benefitted your profession and job skills?
AP Origin provides IOT solutions in a 3D environment. I am required to create complex shaders that match each individual designer’s feel on the graphics while integrating large amounts of challenging data fed into the 3D environment. As my prior vocation was in animations, an RTIS degree honed my expertise in further optimising applications already created at my company.
How has being at AP Origin honed your skills as a software engineer?
We are empowered with direct project ownership. Despite joining AP Origin for only a few months, I am already heading a few new projects. The technology team is also like an R&D team where we are always exploring the latest technologies. It is interesting to learn and create VR and AR simulations and blending it in BIM technologies, which is in line with the current smart nation technology trends that the government is pushing towards.
What were some of the challenges you faced at school and how did you overcome them?
I had a weaker math, physics and programming foundation as compared to my peers, which RTIS demands a high level of proficiency in. Fortunately, the graciousness of my classmates and support of the faculty enabled me to navigate through the difficulties.
Which on-campus facilities helped to enhance your educational development?
The Academic Support Centre (ASC) provides free tutoring by seniors for freshmen and sophomore level modules throughout the day. In specific cases where modules have high failure rates, top-scoring seniors are handpicked by the faculty to be the tutors.
What would you say about the culture on campus and among its faculty staff?
It is a harmonious one. The campus is cosy enough where you will usually meet all your peers in the same labs and get to bond easily. The faculty is accessible and open to any help we require.
Looking to the future, what are your career goals? How did DigiPen (Singapore) help prepare you to meet them?
My ultimate career goal is to become a full-stack designer and developer. DigiPen (Singapore) has helped to accelerate my developer skills.