Students visit aerospace companies in drive to raise interest in growing industry

The event is the first of many student outreach initiatives planned for the aerospace sector.
The event is the first of many student outreach initiatives planned for the aerospace sector.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - For motorheads, it may be burnt rubber but for aeronautical engineering student Aretha Chanokporn Law Hwee Cih, it is a thrill to get an up close view of plane parts being welded, and smell the heated metal.

Aretha, 20, has always wanted to be an engineer. The third-year Singapore Polytechnic student has been trying out the profession during her 22-week internship at General Electrics Aviation, which will end on Aug 10 this year.

On Wednesday (April 25), she was one of 800 students from the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) that got to visit numerous aerospace companies in Singapore.

Eighteen companies, including Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce, opened their doors to students on Aerospace Day @ Seletar Aerospace Park.

"I've always wanted to try welding, but I've only done a small experiment in school," said Aretha.

But she got to see what she has been taught come to life, and on a large scale, during her internship and the tour.

"The event gave me a good idea of what the aviation industry is like. It has become one of my top choices for the future," she said.

Students witnessed maintenance and paint jobs done on planes, and also tried their hand at drone-flying, glider making and 3D printing.

The event is the first of many student outreach initiatives planned for the aerospace sector, said the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC).

Put together by JTC, the Association of Aerospace Industries (Singapore), aerospace companies, as well as the polytechnics and ITE College Central, the event was part of a memorandum of understanding signed by the establishments earlier this year.

Some 1,500 students are expected to benefit from the initiatives annually.

It comes on the back of a growing aerospace industry that has been a key sector of growth in Singapore's economy.

In January this year, the government launched a new aerospace industry transformation map (ITM) that could create 1,000 new jobs in the sector by 2020.

The ITM, which could add $4 billion in value to manufacturing in the sector, identified three key areas: pursuing operational excellence, driving innovation in emerging technologies, and equipping Singaporeans with relevant skills.

Mr Ng Lang, chief executive of JTC, said: "This collaboration with our industry partners aims to facilitate closer engagement between the education institutions and aerospace companies."

"Students will be exposed to advanced manufacturing technologies and have a glimpse of the exciting career opportunities that await them in the aerospace industry."

Mr Louis Leong, vice president of Hawker Pacific Asia, sees the partnership as a great opportunity for both his company and the aerospace sector.

"This not only creates awareness of Hawker Pacific within the student community, but also helps to raise interest and provide an appreciation for the people and processes that support this industry."