Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Grinning Eugene

Most people will not be surprised to learn that Eugene Chiong is distantly related to the Cheshire Cat - explains the easy, ear-to-ear grin that he always seems to sport. Most people will, however, be surprised to learn that flunked his primary school streaming and secondary school exams. He has obviously come a long way since then and intends to venture into a special effects role in a visual effects company after he completes his studies. Like many of us, all this Bishan-boy wants for Christmas is ‘a longer holiday!’.

Describe your experience as an SoC student.
[I’m studying] Computer Science! I'm halfway through my 3rd year now, and going to finish it in one more year before I pursue my Masters in the US (in a Concurrent Degree Programme with CMU-ETC). My specialization is Interactive Digital Media, a clear choice for me, as my passion lies in visual effects and all things related. [My experience as a SoC student has been] pretty fun and challenging. I've always been one who loves going down the path less traveled, and I'm glad SoC offers courses that really pushes my limits and allow me to learn as fast as I would like to. 
[The thing I enjoy the most about studying at SoC is the fact that] some courses are very flexible, and let me get creative with the assignments and projects as long as I meet the basic requirements. One such example is Computer Graphics, where you can just make whatever you want in the assignments, it's entirely up to your creativity. And that you're welcome to try out all sorts of modules as you can SU them (not anymore though :/) 
[If find] anything that I cannot visualize [challenging]. I'm a very visual person, so things that exist beyond three dimensions can get exceedingly frustrating for me. Naturally, math (especially linear algebra) falls in that category. Beyond that, the more interesting things are basically just anything that has to do with visuals, such as computer graphics, special effects, etc.  
I used to be actively involved in Computing Club's activities as the Vice President, but now I have stepped down and am focusing more on my studies. I still help out with Computing Club's activities as a photographer, and a first aider if needed for their camps. Much of my time is still spent on activities outside of SoC though. 
I spend a considerable amount of time doing part time work (15 - 27 hours a week giving private tuition) while overloading on my modules as I have to graduate early, so I have little time to socialize with others, join hall activities, etc. 
Most of the faculty members have made some sort of impression on me, but I think the most unique one is Prof Colin Tan, due to his obsession with cats and how 99.99% of his Facebook posts has some relation to felines. 
One of the craziest things I did here was to cycle and take photographs during the night cycling event every year during sports camp. During night cycling, everyone is mostly on the move, so it is difficult to get pictures of them cycling as it requires photographers to stop to take snapshots along the way - that can be pretty tiring. So being the lazy person I am, I've been taking photos with my DSLR while cycling along with the different groups.

[If I could change one thing about SoC, it would be to have] better computers and network connection. I think a hardware upgrade to most of the computers are way overdue, and I think a computing based faculty should boast network connection that is faster than the others (which is not the case).

What are you working on and why are you passionate about it?
I'm working on an online tool for NUS students to help plan their future modules easily so they know what modules to take in which semester. I did that because many of my friends and I needed to plan future modules and there was no tool readily available for use. Right now, I have an offline version available in an excel file at http://eugenecys.github.io/NUS-Module-Planner/ 
I like doing stuff that helps solve real life problems, rather than random software that does not actually have any significant impact on the community.

What advice would you give a prospective SoC undergraduate student?
If you're here to learn as much as you can, and want to achieve as much as you want, plan your classes early (like, have your full 4 year plan done by the end of your first year!). I say this is because there's many classes that are only offered in alternate semesters, and you may run out of time clearing prerequisites before you get to the classes you want.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not studying?
Playing games! I believe in working hard and playing hard, so I spend a considerable amount of time after a day's work on playing popular game titles, such as Starcraft, Tomb Raider, etc. On top of that, I love cycling - it's my primary pastime outside of the house - and I cycle to pretty much anywhere in Singapore. Sometimes, I play around with some special effects software such as Adobe After Effects to make fun animations as well.

Quick-Fire! Favourite sport?
Cycling. I just love cycling. Been cycling since I was 5 and I have never stopped :D

Pet peeve?
Inconsiderate behavior. Things like people sitting on the outer seat on the bus, or not moving in inside a bus/train, and parents not controlling their extremely rowdy kids. They irk me to no end. 

Guilty pleasure?
KFC. It's so unhealthy but their fried chicken is just so tasty =D

Three food items you’d have with you if you were stranded on an island for eternity?
KFC. Haha! Ok, seriously, eggs, chicken, and potatoes. I think you can get pretty creative with those three food items. 

Got ideas about questions we should be asking or people we should be chatting with? Email tien@nus.edu.sg

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