Guest Post: The Metalworks Experience

Guest Post by Sarah Tan, Creative Technologist (Intern)

You know how they say time flies when you're having fun? That's how the past 6 months at Metalworks went by for me – way too fast!

A little more about myself before I continue: I'm Sarah, a CS graduate from the NUS School of Computing (you may have seen me in their publicity materials!). I've a half year break between graduating and starting my Master's at Carnegie Mellon University, which is why I'm currently interning at Metalworks.

Hello world!

Hello world!

Contrary to what its name suggests, no, we don’t do metalworking here. Metalworks is the global R&D division of Maxus, the world’s fastest growing media agency over the last 5 years (Recma). One of the best things about working in a creative technology company is that I get to play with a lot of cool new technology, which most of my friends can only dream about. Drones? Of course. 3D printers? We have 2. Brain sensing headband? Say hi to MUSE. Then there’s my favourite – virtual reality (VR).

Unlike what most people think, VR is so much more than just the Oculus Rift. During my stint at Metalworks, I had the opportunity to work on 2 different VR projects. One of them involved developing a VR app for Google Cardboard, an affordable VR headset designed by Google. What sets this app apart from other VR apps is the fact that it’s integrated with the Leap Motion Android SDK, so you can see your hands in the virtual world. At that point in time, the Leap Motion Android SDK was still in private alpha, so if you think about it, that means we’re one of the first few in the world to work on integrating it with Cardboard! How awesome is that?

Check out this article on Tech in Asia which covers some of the VR stuff we’ve done.

Oh look! I can see my hands in the virtual world and even pick up virtual objects!

Oh look! I can see my hands in the virtual world and even pick up virtual objects!

An added bonus of working at Metalworks is that we can choose the projects which we want to work on. Being a global company, there tends to be quite a few concurrent projects and of course, I chose those which I felt would be most relevant to my Master’s. That was my goal for my 6 months break between degrees – to prepare myself as much as possible for my Master’s – and the main reason why I chose Metalworks over all my other offers.

Another really great thing about Metalworks is the comfortable environment which encourages learning and exploration. There aren’t many companies in Singapore that can provide you with whole cupboards full of tools and technologies and tell you the best way to learn is by breaking things. My colleagues are friendly and more than willing to lend a helping hand, regardless of whether the issue at hand is solvable or not (that’s the problem with working with new technologies – nobody has discovered a solution to your problem yet). Company “excursions” are also something I look forward to – we’ve been to the Da Vinci Exhibition at the Art Science Museum, Walkabout SG, FOSSASIA, etc. Metalworks even has a weekly “makeday” during which you can work on your own side projects, similar in concept to Google’s “20% time”.

The result of one of my makedays – a procedurally generated 2D roguelike made using Unity.

The result of one of my makedays – a procedurally generated 2D roguelike made using Unity.

Last but definitely not the least, something which I absolutely love about Metalworks is the team lunches! Because who doesn’t like free food? ;) They’re really generous with their treats here welcome/farewell lunches are thrown for interns too!

One of our team lunches. Look at all that food!

One of our team lunches. Look at all that food!

Overall, working at Metalworks has been a fantastic experience. I’ve learnt so much here, made awesome new friends, played with cool things I’d never imagine I could work with. As my time here draws to a close, I can’t help but feel that my past 6 months have been extremely well spent. Really gonna miss this place a lot when I leave!