New Frontiers of Engineering
Engineering is more than just a technical field – it is about comprehending how different systems interface together, be it human or mechanical. Two scholars share how ST Engineering achieves this goal.
By Benjamin Lim
Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering) is an integrated engineering group specialising in innovative solutions and services for both commercial and defence customers.
With diversified businesses in various industries, ST Engineering offers plenty of opportunities for employees to be exposed to different engineering fields.
This was the future that awaited 34-year-old Delvin Gho after graduating from Cornell University in 2002.
Scholars like Delvin get to experience working life in various ST Engineering companies to expose themselves to the different functions of ST Engineering.
A flying start
However, the Electrical Engineering major enjoyed working at ST Marine so much that he requested to stay on and focus on his career progression there.
“I found ST Marine to be a very challenging and exciting place to work in, and there were many areas which I thought I could contribute and improve on,” he says.
His bold move paid off handsomely as he swiftly rose through the ranks, becoming Project Director and managing a large team of workers and engineers within seven years.
“I had to deal with people of different nationalities and educational backgrounds. In order to communicate better with my staff, it was vital that I gained a deeper level of understanding beyond just pure engineering principles. This was very different from the standard classroom-based education system we had previously,” he shares.
Some of the more prominent projects he had undertaken included the construction of five Navy stealth frigates and the upgrading of a seismic survey vessel.
As an engineer in today’s fast-developing world, specialising in only one field and hoping to progress far will only lead to failure.
This was the mental approach Delvin took when he decided to enrol in the full-time Master of Defence Technology and Systems (MDTS) programme in 2009, sponsored by ST Engineering.
“Instead of the usual courses which were directly related to military operations, I chose to major in Operations Research because I wanted something which I could bring back to the company and contribute with,” Delvin says.
Delvin returned to ST Marine two years later in 2011, with the Master’s degree in his bag and was immediately assigned a new job portfolio as the Manager of Systems Safety, ensuring that safety standards of project designs are met.
The road less travelled
Another scholar who is having his overseas education fully-sponsored by ST Engineering is Yeo Pei Han. The 23-year-old is currently studying Aerospace Engineering at the Nanjing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics.
Like many with lofty ambitions, Pei Han has been fascinated with flight since young. More importantly, what struck him were the practicalities of working in the industry.
“I foresee that the aerospace industry will retain its importance for decades to come as the impact of globalisation extends further and the standard of living increases,” Pei Han said adamantly.
Pei Han is the first scholar from ST Engineering to pursue his studies in China and he has no regrets about taking this off-beat path. He is glad that ST Engineering is prepared to send a scholar to China.
“The main reason I chose China is because the market here is incredibly huge - there are 1.3 billion people here with constant work-related and study-related migrations across provinces, so naturally there is a need for support services for their ground and aerial transport systems.”
Having an education in China allows Pei Han to gain a complete perspective of China and also offers him a foothold for potential development in this massive market.
Pei Han also faced a major problem of his own in China – the language barrier. Having been trained to think in English, learning engineering terms in Mandarin was certainly daunting for the Singaporean and it took a year before he became accustomed to the new thought process.
“It took me quite a while to get used to lessons in Mandarin, but looking back, it was not as daunting as it seemed. The learning curve may be steep, but once you are immersed in the environment, you will pick up quickly. Of course, I made many mistakes, but that is all part and parcel of gaining fluency in the language,” Pei Han divulges.
Moulding tomorrow’s engineers
The key to maintaining a high-quality workforce is through investing in the personal development of employees. ST Engineering scholars undergo at least one internship during their undergraduate studies which offers them a taste of the working environment, allowing them to adapt quickly when they graduate.
On top of that, each scholar is assigned a mentor to guide them through the scholarship journey. Scholars will also have the chance to meet one another at the company’s annual tea session where they can share experiences as well as listen to talks by senior management.
While opportunities abound for scholars, Delvin is quick to refute any suggestion of favouritism at the company.
“It is up to each respective employee to take advantage of the opportunities presented and shine. As long you have demonstrated your capabilities, you can look forward to rapid career progression,” he explains.
Pei Han shares Delvin’s view. “It is important for scholars to be humble and have a positive learning attitude, because everyone starts from the same level at work. It is only fair that excellent performance can help you advance to a higher level.”
Adding on to the qualities of potential scholars, Delvin feels it is important to push oneself beyond one’s comfort zone.
“The Production department is definitely not the most appealing workplace because of its hot and humid environment – most would choose to remain in an air-conditioned office. But if you are willing get out of your comfort zone, you will be amazed at how much you will learn!” Delvin quips.
He concludes, “Life at ST Engineering is full of opportunities and exciting prospects!”