SIT-DigiPen (Singapore) graduates Lam Chun On (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art and Animation), Leow Peng Hong, Wilson Phoo, and Yong Jia Hao (Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation) each began working at AP Origin at different points in time, but they can all agree on one thing: The work there is fast-paced and challenging.
AP Origin started off as a three-person team of developers who were working on an app that was initially intended for government bodies. However, after recognizing the app’s commercial potential, the company founders turned their initial project, now called CoCadre, into AP Origin’s flagship human resource management app. The company now boasts over 30 professionals working with clients on various app solutions, ranging from advanced data visualization and e-commerce to predictive behavioural analytics and enterprise virtual reality.
Chun On was AP Origin’s first DigiPen hire. He now acts as the project manager and the content producer for AP Origin’s products. Subsequently, Jia Hao and Peng Hong joined via word of mouth, and Wilson took the leap into AP Origin after hearing about their work during an on-campus career talk. Currently, the three of them are software engineers for the tech startup.
A typical day at AP Origin, according to the graduates, is unpredictable. For the most part, they are free to research and experiment on building various prototypes on their own.
“Working here is more exciting as opposed to working in a game company,” Peng Hong said. “The work here is ongoing, and you get to see the pipeline and flow of app development more so than if you were to work on a triple-A game.”
Wilson agreed and added, “I’m already given a chance to start some VR prototyping on my own. It’s something new for me as opposed to patching a game or maintaining a server.”
Moreover, the graduates also appreciate that AP Origin takes care of their wellbeing and fosters their creativity.
“I feel more valued here because of the amount of responsibility I have to take on,” Wilson said. “It feels better as opposed to being like a cog in a system.”
Chun On also mentioned that working in an app development company gave him fresh experiences after coming out of the game industry, having previously worked as a game producer in a startup game company at the Game Solution Center. “In AP Origins, we don’t just think about making the app. Unlike the focus on project milestones in the games industry, we have other things to think about such as sales, marketing, and taking care of the staff,” he said. “Not everyone can handle this amount of stress, but you’ll grow a lot as a result. DigiPen students probably have the advantage in that they can catch up to this pace from having a project-intensive curriculum.”
Nevertheless, they do admit that working in a constantly changing company can be a bit intense.
“A major challenge in working here is the fear of the unknown,” Jia Hao said. “Making games usually has a milestone set ahead of the project, but here we don’t really meet milestones as the client’s needs are always changing. App development is also much faster than making games, and we have to come up with a working prototype in one month as opposed to meeting a milestone that is in three to six months in the games industry.”
With that said, Jia Hao’s contributions for 3D Analect – AP Origin’s flagship enterprise 3D visualization platform – was a highlight in his time at AP Origin. He created and oversaw the data visualization software and managed to showcase a demo of the app at the Singapore Datacenter Week 2016 conference.
While the software engineers are working on apps that have yet to be released, they are all just as busy and look forward to being able to show off their work. For project managers like Chun On, it’s especially satisfying when he sees his team hard at work.
“I could give my team a task with an impossible deadline, but they will miraculously deliver,” Chun On said. “When [our clients] ask for urgent changes, the pressure is up to us, and it’s a morale boost when other programmers step up from their usual role to help in their project.”