S ingapore is a highly urbanised nation. The buildings and structures in which we live, work, and play are in fact products of careful planning on the part of the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
As the agency under the Ministry of National Development (MND), BCA champions the development of Singapore’s built environment and pursues the highest standards. It ensures that the development of our built environment follows a safe, inclusive and sustainable path for all members of society. In addition, it leads the transformation of our built environment sector by cultivating a highly competent workforce and promoting the adoption of new and better technologies.
We speak to Aaron Lee, a BCA Local Undergraduate Scholar and current Executive Engineer, about the things that drew him to BCA. He also tells us about his unique responsibilities at work, and how the organisation has helped to shape his development in immensely positive ways.
A Meaningful Journey
Aaron actually applied for the BCA Local Undergraduate Scholarship when he was a third-year student at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He recalls, “I had thoroughly considered all my options and decided that the public sector was a good place to start my career. At the same time, I wanted a technical job relevant to my engineering studies.
“BCA stood out because of its efforts in maintaining an excellent built environment for Singapore. Our built environment is something to be proud of, but we must not take it for granted and think that it came by easily.”
Even the university’s buildings helped impress upon Aaron the crucial role that BCA plays in Singapore’s development. He shares, “At NTU, the School of Art, Design and Media is famous for its signature sloping green roof. This was one of NTU’s first BCA Green Mark Platinum projects, a mark of distinction for environmentally-friendly buildings. Whenever I passed by the building, I would always picture Singapore with many more Green Mark buildings, and I felt deeply appreciative of, and keen to contribute to, BCA’s efforts to make our built environment even greener.”
As a BCA scholar, Aaron benefited from internship opportunities that equipped him with experiences – all of which helped prepare him for the working world. “I did my internship at A*STAR. I mainly worked on a project concerned with the design of a futuristic medical dispenser for the elderly. I learnt a lot from the practical application of theories that I learnt in class, and this definitely helped prepare me for how the things we learn in the classroom translate into the real world.”
Aaron Lee Xuan Ang
BCA Local Undergraduate Scholar
A Memorable Career
Aaron is the first to admit that a BCA career is no walk in the park. He says candidly, “The learning curve was definitely steep, but with the support of my colleagues and mentors at work, I was able to embrace the challenges that came my way.”
As an Executive Engineer, Aaron deals with an unlikely aspect of our built environment – amusement rides. “My job is to ensure the safety of amusement rides regulated under the Amusement Rides Safety Act. This includes reviewing the design of new rides to ensure they comply with accepted standards before allowing them to be installed and opened to the public,” he explains.
“We also ensure that existing rides are regularly and properly maintained, such that they do not deteriorate and put patrons at risk. This is done through regular inspections. Some examples of rides that BCA regulates include roller coasters, ferris wheels, water slides, and even less conventional attractions like zip lines, indoor skydiving devices, and cable skis.”
Aaron’s work requires him to have an in-depth understanding of the diverse engineering concepts involved in the design of the rides, and be able to identify critical safety areas of each ride. He elaborates, “Some of the rides use new technologies which we have to familiarise ourselves with before we can inspect them. This poses quite a challenge because we constantly have to learn new things as new rides emerge in the market. Still, I absolutely relish the challenge because it is a huge part of what makes the job so rewarding.”
In addition, Aaron is happy to work alongside a very supportive team of colleagues who overcome difficulties together. “We learn and grow together as a team and this also helps me improve as an individual. While my undergraduate studies provided me with fundamental knowledge, the on-the-job training provided by many of my senior colleagues helped me understand the rides better. I also frequently attend technical trainings to stay updated on new developments and remain relevant,” he enthuses.
One incident in particular also helped Aaron realise the importance of his job. “One month into the job, my department had to attend to a cable car incident. An empty cabin had detached itself from the suspension cable during installation, dropping by 30 meters or so to the ground. Fortunately, no one was injured,” he recalls.
“This made me realise how crucial my job is in ensuring that amusement rides are safe for the public, and also the key regulatory role that the BCA plays overall.”
A Desire to Contribute
When asked about the qualities aspiring BCA scholars should possess, Aaron is quick to emphasise that the BCA is above all about serving Singaporeans. He says, “BCA officers should be firm but compassionate. They must possess the drive and initiative to constantly improve standards. Given the fast-paced world we live in today, we must never become complacent. BCA officers must always lead by example and remain at the forefront of shaping a safe, high-quality, sustainable and friendly built environment that Singaporeans can be proud of!”
He concludes, “I have not once regretted taking up the BCA scholarship. BCA is a harmonious and caring family, and the support I have received from the management and the rapport I have built with my colleagues are the reasons I look forward to work every day. There are wide-ranging opportunities here at BCA – our officers are responsible for forging a greener built environment, ensuring the safety of buildings, and even boosting productivity in the construction sector. You will have the chance to leave your mark on our diverse built environment!”