Making connections

Kum Chuen Tang believes that information sharing is the key to making the world a better place.

BY ERIN MUNRO

As a child, Kum Chuen Tang was intrigued by the mechanics of telephones, and their seemingly magical ability to connect people across vast distances. As an adult, his interest in the technology that facilitates these connections remains. 

Today, he’s the president of Satellite Systems Business at ST Electronics, a division of multidisciplinary engineering company ST Engineering.

“I think communications is an area that has always been fascinating to me, because communications technology is one of the enablers of connectivity,” he says. “It enables us to connect people all over the world so they can talk and exchange information.” 

Tang has been with ST Electronics for 27 years, starting as an engineer. Seeing the business grow over the past two decades has been a career highlight. 

“I’ve seen how the company has grown from strength to strength, and today it is recognised in the industry as the leader in a few key technologies – for example, in the satellite communication area,” he says. 

One industry development that excites Tang most is the impending deployment of high-throughput satellites (HTS) – satellites that have many times the capacity of classic fixed satellite services (FSS) satellites – which, he says, “will change the game”. 

“More bandwidth capacity will become available and prices per megabit will drop,” he explains. 

This will have tangible benefits for consumers and industry alike. For example, Tang says, broadcasters will be able to add more television channels to their offering and increase the quality of the image, and in a communication environment, more users can be added to a network, resulting in higher revenue. 

He’s also looking forward to increasingly advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

“Driverless everything – cars, buses, trains. And drones, unmanned aerial vehicles,” he adds. 

“All these will reduce the carbon footprint and make our environment greener,” he says. 

Tang attended Monash under a Colombo Plan scholarship in 1976 and gained a Bachelor of Engineering. One of his enduring memories from his time at the University was the diversity of the student body. 

“We had students from all over the world,” he remembers. “From the US and Europe, and a number of them from Polynesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong. There were many different views and opinions and cultures.” 

It’s not surprising that a diverse range of individuals coming together to learn appealed to Tang, having built a career centred on connecting people. And he’s adamant that unity and co-operation are at the heart of what he does today. 

“It’s important that everyone gets a chance to access connectivity, that they are able to share information and communicate ideas to different people,” he says. “By sharing all that information we can create new things, new solutions, to make the world that we live in a better place.”