Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Yong Jie

Some may find it surprising that Wong Yong Jie is only 21 years old and already in his third year of his Communications and Media and CMU Concurrent Degree programme. He spent his younger years in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, but has been living in Singapore since he was 13. Yong Jie started up his web solutions company on an impulse, played the old man in SoC’s Rag performance last year, and thinks pure algorithms are “ugh!”.

Watch out Taiwan! Don't get in the way of this man and his noodles!

Describe your experience as an SoC student.
Beyond its academic merits, I think the best thing about SoC is that it's like a tightly knit family. In every class I take in SoC, I'm quite certain to find some friends who can take away the potential boredom of weekly lectures/tutorials. I have very nice close friends whom I enjoy spending time with every day. 
Currently, I'm the de facto advisor to the current Management Committee after retiring as President in the last academic year. As I intend to spend the year focusing on my academic studies, my involvement is currently minimal. I'm also currently in the Alumni Relations Cell of Computing Club. I stay over in school more often than most people. Sometimes I walk to school at 2 am just to get some things done (I stay on campus, though). I do feel more sense of attachment to the school, I guess. 
[The thing I find most challenging is] Mathematics (in any form). I'm well aware that math is the foundation of CS, but I seem to take double the effort to learn as compared to some others. So far, the most useful module I have done is CS3246 Multimedia Content Analysis and Search. We were made to build 3 search engines in just a single semester! Despite the heavy workload, everything we learnt had close to real-world applications - especially with the renewed focus on data mining and information retrieval. [If there is one thing I could change about SoC,] I'd wish for higher project weightage rather than examinations. I tend to do very poorly in examinations, unfortunately. 
In general, I do think that faculty members are really friendly people in almost all occasions, and are very enthusiastic and dedicated as teaching staff. Among those who have taught me in many ways are (in no particular order): Associate Professor Irene Woon (IS1103/1105), Mr. Aaron Tan (CS1010), Associate Professor Khoo Siau Cheng, Dr. Colin Tan, Dr. Soo Yuen Jien (CS2100), Dr. Damith Rajapakse (CS2103), Dr. Bimlesh Wadhwa (CS3240), Associate Professor Leong Hon Wai, Associate Professor Lee Wee Sun and Professor Chua Tat Seng (CS3246).

I hear you have a web solutions company. Tell me a bit about that.
I actually started out as a freelancer for web development. Over the years, the freelance market became flooded with extremely cheap services with no guarantees of quality or support. Formulating my services as part of a company gives more confidence to customers and allows more flexibility in marketing.  
Being in this industry requires a blend of skills - one has to first learn the technical aspects of web development. [Then] there needs to be some artistic flair to ensure visual appeal. One also needs communication skills to communicate effectively with clients, and some marketing skills to promote solutions in a crowded market. 
My company is currently largely dormant (beyond some maintenance tasks for older clients), as I lack the time to stay focused on it. Riding the wave of the Web is a challenging one - new technologies appear and existing technologies are deprecated all the time. Now, one has to design web solutions in the context of "many screens" - from mobiles to tablets, laptops to full-sized PCs, or even the big screen (TVs), and take advantage of relatively new things such as WebRTC to enrich user experiences. While challenging, the Web is an exciting place to be in.

Ah Pek Jie dispensing advice

What advice would you give a prospective SoC student?
Discover your passion - it will make your life much easier. Make more friends and join more Computing Club activities - it will expand your reach and give you opportunities to build your network.

What are your future plans?
My immediate plan is to work on my 3rd year project (CS3283/84 Media Technology Project) and my Final Year Project. I'm still not certain about what I am going to do after graduation (may be a bad sign...), as I still have a wide range of interests. I may find stability in being a full-stack developer for a company, but I find thrill[s] in setting up a start-up.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not studying?
Spending some time with my girlfriend, lazing around with my family (haven't been enjoying the comfort of my home for months!), playing badminton or cycling. I like music and dance too. [For dance,] I like hip hop the most. I'd have to put up a huge disclaimer here though – I don't think I'm good at it. I'm not trained in dance whatsoever, but I just enjoy moving along with music with good beats :P

Quick‐Fire time. Best place you’ve been to?
Since I just got back from Taiwan, I think Taiwan is an awesome place with awesome food! :D

Pet peeve?
Imperfect pixels on screen.

Guilty pleasure?
Sleeping too much.

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

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