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Guardians of Our Home: Exploring Leading-edge Vehicle Platforms

HTX Land Systems Engineer Trevor Heung explains how he discovered his purpose – applying S&T to support his fellow Home Team officers.

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PHOTOS: Dayana Yakob

Inside Changi Prison Complex these days, you’ll find a number of boxy, purple-and-blue shuttles travelling the grounds. The brainchild of Trevor Heung and his fellow engineers from the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), the shuttles travel fixed and on-demand routes within the Complex, picking up passengers at four designated stops. 

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“We deployed the shuttles in September 2021, and it’s the first trial of autonomous vehicles by the Home Team,” explains Trevor. “Some days, we’ll find people queuing for the shuttles, and this tells us we’re on the right track!” 

Exposed to the Home Team’s Mission
Trevor’s passion for the Home Team’s mission goes back to his National Service (NS) days as an Assistant Operations Officer at Ang Mo Kio North Neighbourhood Police Centre. “Besides assisting with daily operational matters, I also had the opportunity to support major events like the 2010 Youth Olympics, the 2011 general elections, National Day Parade and F1,” recalls Trevor. “I also did a stint as a Ground Response Force officer, conducting neighbourhood patrols and attending to 999 cases. These experiences impressed on me the important role played by Home Team officers.” 

After completing his NS, Trevor chose to pursue Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Nanyang Technological University. When it was time for him to decide on his career, he followed his heart by applying for the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Science and Technology Associate programme in 2019.

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“This represented the best of both worlds for me as it allowed me to tap on my NS experiences as a Police officer while applying my skills as an engineer,” says Trevor. “I speak the same language as our officers on the ground, so I understand their operational requirements. At the same time, I can apply my engineering knowledge to propose solutions that work for our officers.”

Exciting Synergies
Trevor became part of the pioneering cohort of Home Team officers to join HTX when it was formed on 1 December 2019. As a member of HTX’s Land Systems Centre of Expertise, he works on leading-edge vehicular platforms that empowers the Home Team’s frontline tactical operations. 

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Another bonus? Working on projects such as the Next-Generation Fast Response Car allows Trevor to tap on the expertise of engineers from other domains, such as HTX’s Policing Programme Management Centre. “It’s very meaningful to take an interdisciplinary approach, and that’s one of the benefits of being a HTX engineer,” explains Trevor. “We get to go beyond what we’ve studied and to draw from different domains and concepts.” 

Joining HTX also proved to be a milestone for Trevor in personal terms. “My family has played a major part in why I chose this path,” he shares. “My father was an electrician on a cargo ship and my brother is an aerospace engineer. Now that I’m a Land Systems engineer, we’ve basically covered the sea, air and land!”

Vehicular Explorations
The autonomous vehicle project at Changi Prison Complex began in 2019 with a simple challenge statement from the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) – was there a way to transport people and goods to specified points within the Complex, in a manner that was effective, safe and secure? 

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After numerous site visits and conversations with SPS officers, Trevor’s team proposed a system of autonomous vehicles and deployed it for trials in late-2021. On a sunny February afternoon, Trevor took us for a ride on the battery-powered shuttle, which can carry up to 10 passengers and relies on LIDAR technology to travel a designated route. A complete circuit around the Complex takes 15 minutes, and we saw passengers coming aboard or alighting at each designated stop. 

“We’re stress-testing the system and the trial involves SPS officers, staff and visitors to the Complex such as volunteers and other members of the public,” explains Trevor. “User feedback has been positive, and this helps us to refine the system further and consider how it can be deployed on a larger scale.” 

Exceptional Purpose
In January 2022, Trevor attended a course that showed him he’d made the right choice in joining the Home Team. As a participant in the Home Team Foundation Course, he got the chance to wear a firefighter’s bunker suit, visit Pasir Panjang Scanning Station to see its clearance operations and even learn more about the casino regulatory process. 

But what stayed with Trevor was a conversation he had with a Prison officer. “He shared that he’d joined SPS because he wanted to help inmates change their lives and become better citizens,” recalls Trevor. “That’s what struck me – his sense of purpose.” 

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It’s this same purpose that Trevor expressed when he first applied to join HTX. At an interview panel that included Mr Chan Tsan, Chief Executive of HTX, Trevor was asked why he wanted to become an Engineer with HTX. “Through HTX, I can come up with S&T solutions that impact the entire Home Team,” he says. “My sense of purpose has never wavered, and has in fact grown even stronger over the years. If you’re considering a career in the Home Team, I encourage you to find this sense of purpose too!"   
Guardians of Our Home
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Commercial Affairs Career Track: On an Enforcement Operation with a Commercial Affairs Officer
Civilian Generalist Career Track: Growing Beyond to Take on New Roles

MHA Civilian Scholarship
The MHA Civilian Scholarship is awarded to outstanding individuals who are passionate about strengthening Singapore’s security and public safety. Recipients of the MHA Civilian Scholarship may choose from a variety of exciting and rewarding Home Team careers according to their interests and aspirations. This civilian scholarship offers six career tracks: a Generalist track and five Specialist tracks: Intelligence; Psychology; Commercial Affairs; Science and Technology; and Internal Security. Applications are now open! Learn more about the MHA Civilian Scholarships!

Written by

Mike Tan


25 February 2022

Science and Technology
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