Everything to gain with engineering education

WE ARE excited to read letters from readers highlighting the importance of encouraging an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) in students.

Most parents have the best of intentions in guiding their children towards careers perceived to be the most rewarding, but they may not be aware of the bright prospects in Stem-related fields.

In a knowledge-intensive and technology-based economy, the demand for Stem professionals to sustain Singapore's globally competitive edge will be strong.

Engineers, in particular, are critically needed in enabling sustainable and climate-resilient urban development. Students equipped with a Stem-based and advanced engineering education can expect abundant career opportunities in multiple sectors locally and abroad in the future.

The young flourish in jobs involving things they are passionate about. If they have an aptitude for Stem subjects and are good at identifying engineering problems and creating solutions, the best thing to do is to help them achieve their potential in engineering, which bridges the worlds of science and economics.

Stem subjects are not easy, as one has to grapple with concepts and applications. Therefore, outside-the-classroom exposure is necessary to help students draw relevance from real-world challenges, and apply knowledge and concepts in the process of creating solutions.

We have seen many students' eyes light up with curiosity as they sought out alternative energy sources in the Energy Innovation Challenge, a highlight of the annual National Engineers Day that the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES) is holding next month.

Interaction with Stem professionals also exposes students to what an engineer's life is like, as well as its rewards.

The young need role models to look up to. Corporations can play a meaningful role in driving students' interest in Stem by offering mentorship and attachment opportunities.

This will create a strong pipeline of engineers entering the profession, which will, in turn, support their business growth. Miss Woo Jia Qian is right in advocating that Stem career profiles be raised ("Give science, engineering jobs an image boost"; Forum Online, last Friday).

IES continually celebrates outstanding engineers and their achievements through awards and other activities.

In all, youth with a strong Stem foundation and engineering education have everything to gain, as this knowledge hones their critical thinking, information management and problem-solving skills.

These skills are highly sought after in numerous industries, positioning engineering students well to achieve a rewarding career.

Chong Kee Sen

President

The Institution of Engineers, Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'Everything to gain with engineering education'. Print Edition | Subscribe