When it comes to issues of national health and security, no one sector or field has all the answers. Singapore's talented engineers, however, play a big role in ensuring, among other things, that air quality is closely monitored and defence and security systems are bolstered and improved.
Some may misunderstand that engineering may be dry in nature, but the truth is that it is more dynamic than just analysing facts and figures or handling machinery. From environmental engineering to defence engineering, there is a plethora of different, but equally exciting, scopes of work that an engineer can choose to delve in. The common factor that underpins all these different sectors is being a problem-solver.
If you fancy yourself as a problem-solver, then engineering may be for you. In fact, there is no better time to enter this field - at the launch of Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) at Mediapolis in one-north last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the need for top engineering talent.
Hear from three engineers in the Public Service to get a glimpse of what it's like to tackle some unique problems.
Helping us breathe easy
Ms Khairunnisa Yahya, 33, is a chemical engineer working for the National Environment Agency (NEA). Her job at the Pollution Control Department in NEA involves working on air quality monitoring, modelling, and other related projects to understand the impact of the different emission sources on ambient air quality.
"Part of our work is to ensure that the air quality monitoring stations across the island are operating in optimal condition so that the air quality trends are accurately monitored, and this will help to support NEA's air pollution control policies," she says.
For Ms Khairunnisa, being exposed to a wide range of different issues is something that she finds stimulating and engaging. "Getting to the root cause of problems and solving them, understanding how things work as well as learning new processes and technologies make engineering exciting and multi-dimensional."
Defending our home
Mr Chen Juncheng, 31, is a defence engineer with the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA). Through data analytics and machine learning, he develops innovative technological solutions for the Ministry of Defence and the Singapore Armed Forces.
For instance, the Fleet Management System his team is working on enables the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to glean important insights into aircraft health, allowing for more efficient allocation of key resources and manpower.
"Translating vast amounts of data into actionable, useful insights for the RSAF is one of the most challenging yet fulfilling aspects of my job," he says. "We develop predictive analytic models that monitor aircraft systems for unusual behaviour and identify potential issues for early rectification. In short, we use data to transform the way RSAF manages its aircraft fleet."
Mr Chen's passion for innovation and technology is what drives him in his role as a defence engineer. "Being at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution constantly challenges me to exercise creativity," says the 31-year-old. "It is immeasurably satisfying to be able to apply technical knowledge to solve real-world problems."
"I also get to mentor aspiring engineers through DSTA's outreach initiatives such as the Young Defence Scientists Programme and have the opportunity to introduce engineering concepts and applications to them," he adds.
Future proofing our security
Mr Cheng Wee Kiang, 46, is a director at the Robotics, Automation and Unmanned Systems Centre of Expertise under the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX). He leads a team of engineers in developing future automation and robotics technologies to ensure that our Home Team is equipped to solve current problems and future threats to national security.
Some of his significant projects include developing the home-grown Automated Passenger In-car Clearance System (APICS) prototype after working on it for a year from a blank slate. "APICS is a unique system that uses advanced robotics and sensor systems to perform immigration clearance for cars," he explains. This allows quicker and more streamlined vehicle clearance through checkpoints.
When asked why engineering appealed to him, Mr Cheng said: "I appreciate the vast array of opportunities offered by the Public Service for engineers to nurture, apply and hone their engineering skills especially towards nation building. Our work helps Home Team officers carry out their mission more effectively and efficiently, thus making Singapore a safer place to live in."
At the end of the day, engineering allows Ms Khairunnisa, Mr Chen and Mr Cheng to be a part of a bigger picture - working towards helping the nation grow and improve. Not only can potential candidates expect a promising career path, they can also find greater purpose, knowing they are contributing to progress of fellow Singaporeans by becoming the solvers of tomorrow's problems.
Visit www.engineerwhatsnext.sg and www.instagram.com/engineerwhatsnext to find out more about engineering careers in the Public Service.