Tinkering with aircraft wasn’t enough for one Republic of Singapore Air Force senior technician; she is now studying Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
After obtaining her polytechnic diploma in Aeronautical Engineering, Ong Shiyi spent four years in the RSAF. In 2009, she decided to pursue a university degree to continue learning and improve her knowledge and skills.
“I chose to study full-time in order to stay focused and to be able to get a formal and rigorous education,” the 26-year-old explained.
Transiting back to academic life is no easy task for anyone, but Shiyi managed to do it successfully, with a little help.
“My classmates’ tutoring, mutual support and encouragement guided me through this arduous adventure. NUS has provided me with an environment that has ample opportunities and learning avenues,” she said.
One of these opportunities was joining the eco-car team NUS Urban Concept. Always very keen in Design and Technology, working on the eco-car gave Shiyi the rewarding experience of seeing her team’s design become reality.
Though not the first, she is currently the only female on the team. Shiyi, however, is not fazed by her position. She learned a great deal working with men during her stint with the RSAF.
“I don’t feel intimidated being the only female, and play an active role in the team’s program and progress,” Shiyi said.
The team represented NUS in the Shell Eco-Marathon Asia 2011, in which the students had to design, build and drive a fuel-efficient vehicle.
The team won the Hydrogen Grand Prize (Urban Concept Category, Fuel Cell Group) and the SKF Innovative Car Design Award.
Their accomplishments were also recognized at this year’s NUS Student Achievement Awards in the Competitions Category.
This year, Shiyi takes on a senior role on the NUS Urban Concept team. She puts her knowledge and maturity to good use by mentoring and motivating her teammates to come up with better solutions to engineering problems.
“I like to ask inquisitive questions about alternative solutions, which set the guys thinking about better and more efficient ways to solve engineering and manufacturing issues. When doing repairs on the eco-car, I share with my team on using different tools that can speed up the work,” she added.
Shiyi’s polytechnic background and her work experience not only give her technical expertise, but also help shape her outlook on education.
While her polytechnic background exposed her to a practical side of the world, it also provided her with detailed academic explanation, “concreting the idea that higher education will broaden my knowledge in terms of scope and depth.”
Through her work experience, Shiyi realized “that I can achieve more with more education, in terms of self-improvement, work advancement and bringing more benefit to my colleagues and company.”
For female students who want to pursue engineering, Shiyi has this advice: “With courage and determination, we will definitely soar to higher heights.”
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times