Building the future

The BCA is more than just about construction, as Tan Wee Kwang finds out in his role to help shape a better built environment for the future.

By Joyce Lin

Most people would be put off by the three “Ds” of the building and construction industry – “dirty”, “dangerous” and “demanding” – but not Tan Wee Kwang. The 28-year-old Senior Executive Engineer at the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) currently works in the Transit Shelter Engineering Department which regulates the planning, design and construction of Civil Defence MRT shelter stations in Singapore.

So the next time you pass by these MRT stations, such as those in the Northeast Line and Circle Line, everything from the environmental control system to the drainage system have been certified as good to go, thanks in part to Wee Kwang’s dedication to his job.

Captivated from young
As a senior executive engineer, Wee Kwang is able to fulfil his childhood dream of having a role in the physical development of Singapore. “When I was young, I lived at the outskirts of the Hougang New Town and witnessed the transformation of the primary forest into the current Sengkang and Buangkok housing estates. The close proximity of my house to the actual development presented me with an invaluable opportunity to view the day-to-day operations on site, and that had formed a lasting impression in my mind as well as inspired me to join the construction industry.”

Armed with this childhood dream, it was not surprising that Wee Kwang seized the opportunity to take up a scholarship with BCA after his junior college education, knowing that BCA represented what he wanted to do for the betterment of the community.

Wee Kwang went on to graduate with first-class honours in Mechanical Engineering from the National University of Singapore (NUS) three years ago. Upon graduation, Wee Kwang was posted to the Enterprise Promotion Department to be the Country Manager for India. This involved helping the local industry players to venture into the Indian market through creating business opportunities for Singapore construction firms with Indian enterprises.

He was also given the opportunity to work in other departments, such as Strategic Materials Department and the Economics Research Department. In these departments, he took on diverse portfolios ranging from monitoring the economic and financial well being of the building and construction industry to advancing the industry capability.

With the massive slew of MRT projects undertaken by the Land Transport Authority in recent years, Wee Kwang was subsequently posted to the Transit Shelter Engineering Department, where he is still based today.

The dynamic nature of Wee Kwang’s job requires him to learn the ropes quickly in order to contribute effectively to the core operations of the various departments he worked in. This is especially so when he is entrusted with responsibilities in areas of work which are new to him.

“Given the intense pressure to deliver results and the fact that any slip-ups become immediately noticeable, you have to take everything in your stride and adopt a positive attitude to overcome the obstacles,” he quips.

While his earlier portfolios had allowed him to stretch his capabilities and pick up new skills in areas outside the engineering domain, his most recent job posting involves the application of the engineering knowledge that he had acquired in university, something which heartens him greatly. “Virtually everything that I have learnt during my course of study in NUS can be applied in my current job, and this gives me great satisfaction.”

Apart from work, Wee Kwang is also actively involved in various committees in BCA, such as the Staff Recreation Committee that promotes staff well-being and interaction through community, recreational and health promotion activities. “I enjoyed organising and participating in these activities as they are useful channels for my colleagues, including myself, to bond and get to know one another better.”

To a greener future
Wee Kwang believes strongly in shaping a more sustainable environment for the future. In line with the green movement, BCA started the Green Mark Scheme in 2005 and subsequently rolled out two Green Building Masterplans that target the greening of new and existing buildings and beyond. With these new plans, more developments will be encouraged to reduce energy consumption and be more environmentally friendly.

In the Singapore Sustainable Blueprint launched in April 2009, a target has been set for 80 percent of both new and old buildings to go green by 2030. Wee Kwang has high hopes for the green building movement. “Given the rising global concerns over environment issues and increasing appreciation for sustainable development, there is a need for Singapore to play its part in the global mission towards cutting emissions and striving for environmental sustainability.”

“For the building sector, BCA has taken the lead to implement a full suite of measures so as to enable our industry to meet the end goal.”

A rewarding career
On his greatest takeaway over his three years with BCA, Wee Kwang shares that it has to be “the sense of pride and satisfaction that comes with being able to contribute to the society and make a positive impact on people’s lives, through helping to shape a better built environment for all residents in Singapore.”

To all potential scholars out there, Wee Kwang advises that you should first have some interest in the intricacies of the construction industry. “It is always useful for you to have an idea of your passion and aspirations, so that you can choose a scholarship offered by an organisation whose vision and mission are aligned with your interests and goals. So, if you subscribe to BCA’s role in helping to shape an excellent built environment for the people of Singapore, then this job is for you.”

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