Since the 1960s, HDB has risen to the challenge to provide affordable, quality homes for its citizens. Today, more than 80% of Singapore's population live in HDB flats and 90% of them own their own homes – a testament to HDB's success over the years.
However, HDB has not stopped there. Rather, it is working to continuously improve public housing with programmes to renew and revitalise towns. Playing a significant role in this are the HDB Engineers, a devoted group who tap on technology to enhance our urban environment.
We speak to HDB Local Undergraduate Scholar, Sai Murugan Pandit about how his work as a Senior Engineer helps improve public housing, and by extension, the lives of Singaporeans.
What sparked your interest in the HDB Undergraduate Scholarship?
Sai Murugan Pandit: Back in school, I was always interested in Physics and Mathematics. I found that engineering allowed me to apply the concepts that I had learnt in school into everyday life. I decided to pursue Mechanical Engineering as it was the broadest field of engineering, and I believed that it would provide me with better career opportunities in the future.
I was particularly attracted to HDB because of its significant contributions to the economic and social development of Singapore. With over 80% of Singapore's population living in HDB flats, I knew that working at HDB would give me the opportunity to tap on my professional skills and improve the lives of my fellow Singaporeans.
How did HDB support you during your undergraduate studies?
Murugan: As an undergraduate, HDB was very supportive of my academic pursuits and choices. They sponsored my overseas exchange programme with the University of Auckland, New Zealand. This marked one of my most memorable experiences in my life. In addition to experiencing education and life in a foreign country, it was also a journey of self-discovery as living abroad made me more independent.
I also had the opportunity to do an internship with the Building and Quality Group in HDB. Under the guidance of experienced engineers, I learnt about various building services and was exposed to the many different aspects of project management. Through the internship, I was also able to obtain a broad perspective of HDB's work and get a glimpse into my future career opportunities.
Tell us about some of the roles and responsibilities you have at work.
Murugan: With my background in Mechanical Engineering, I play a part in how HDB uses technology to simulate and enhance the sustainability of our urban environment. I apply engineering concepts which I have learnt during my undergraduate studies to run environmental simulations and draw up mechanical designs for new HDB projects.
I am also a member of the Urban Environmental Modelling (UEM) team at HDB's Building and Research Institute (BRI). HDB has invested heavily in developing a suite of UEM tools to better understand our urban environment. These tools help simulate various aspects of a living environment. This assists planners, architects and engineers in experimenting and determining how best to site new flats by optimising environmental conditions - such as shading and wind flow.
Sai Murugan Pandit
HDB Local Undergraduate Scholar
Building & Research Institute
Share with us some memorable experiences you have had at HDB.
Murugan: I had the opportunity to go on a ‘Smart Cities' study trip to Europe where I learnt about their business models, strategies and project implementation. We covered a total of five cities in just 10 days. Although it was tiring, it was truly a fruitful trip as we were able to apply many of the learning points to our HDB Smart Town Framework. This framework maps out how HDB leverages Information and Communication Technology, to make HDB towns and estates more liveable, efficient, sustainable and safe for residents.
On a lighter note, the inter-department games are also something I look forward to. The games, which cover a wide variety of sports, provide us with an opportunity to keep fit and bond with colleagues from the different departments outside the office environment.
What advice do you have for aspiring HDB scholars?
Murugan: Fresh graduates joining HDB will have the opportunity to impact the lives of Singaporeans, by creating vibrant towns with green spaces and future-forward technologies. You can look forward to a meaningful career as we look at meeting the ever-changing housing and social needs of Singaporeans with an emphasis on affordability, sustainability and quality. There is hardly a dull moment working at HDB, as you will be exposed to a diverse range of projects and activities.
Being able to apply your knowledge in a field that interests you goes a long way in creating job satisfaction. Research the career opportunities that an organisation offers, and ensure that it is in line with your passion and interests. If you seek meaningful career opportunities and envision being a part of an organisation that makes a significant difference to the lives of Singaporeans, HDB is definitely the place to be.