Engineers form the backbone of society

The state of engineering is one of the most important markers of human development, and it has rightly been used to characterise the era we are in ("Engineering key to Singapore's future as smart nation: PM"; last Saturday).

For example, the United States and former Soviet Union entered the Space Age in the 1950s, with the launch of Explorer 1 and Sputnik respectively, and it is generally understood that we are currently in the Information Age, with the proliferation of data-centric devices around the world.

It is hence natural that many countries put engineering at the forefront of their economy - graduating with an engineering degree from a top school guarantees a life of stability or perhaps even more.

For instance, in France, one of the most prestigious routes for a student is to enrol and graduate with an engineering degree from Ecole Polytechnique. In India, it is an engineering degree from one of the Indian Institutes of Technology.

Engineers are not just glorified technicians in maintenance, repairs and operations. An engineer devises solutions to problems in a clever and creative manner. They are the link between scientific discoveries and the application of these new ideas to the world.

The value of engineering is, therefore, the creation of a better world - a cleaner, safer and more connected world.

Engineers are not just glorified technicians in maintenance, repairs and operations. An engineer devises solutions to problems in a clever and creative manner. They are the link between scientific discoveries and the application of these new ideas to the world.
The value of engineering is, therefore, the creation of a better world.

Singapore began with exactly that. From Third World to First, Singapore was re-engineered from the ground up by our pioneer generation.

With its growth, Singapore eventually moved into the tertiary industries by the late 1990s, and after the dot.com crash in the early 2000s, it was committed to the financial services sector.

It was at this stage when engineering was perhaps sidelined.

The easing of immigrants into Singapore placed a downward pressure on the salaries of engineers, making the sector unfavourable for many.

No recipient of the President's Scholarship opted for engineering for nearly a decade, until last year.

Singapore needs to realise that engineers form the backbone of any robust society, and value them as much to ensure the Republic's survival and progress.

Chua Meng Shuen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Engineers form the backbone of society'. Print Edition | Subscribe