As a curious, inquisitive child, Harold Au knew he had a particularly keen interest in the sciences. He marvelled at the intricate mechanisms found in machines such as LEGO forklifts, buggies and tractors, and this fascination for the inner workings of such machinery eventually evolved into an interest in cars. “I knew that engineering was the right field for me as I could derive personal fulfilment from aligning my work with my interest,” he muses.
Today, Harold brings his strong interest in cars to his work at ST Kinetics, the land systems arm of the Group. As a Senior Engineer, he is currently leading the development of a new platform with enhanced capabilities that may one day be deployed by the US Marine Corps.
Across the world, there is a growing demand for amphibious Armoured Personnel Carriers with the capabilities to achieve excellent manoeuvrability and survivability in the open seas. The US Marine Corps chose to tap on the resources of ST Engineering because ST Kinetics’ TERREX Armoured Personnel Carrier was shortlisted as one of the top four Armoured Personnel Carriers in the world.
The ST Engineering Overseas Scholar beams with pride as he tells us, “This is a golden opportunity to put ST Engineering and Singapore’s engineering capabilities on the world map. In fact, ST Kinetics has already done that once with our Warthog All Terrain Tracked Carrier, which was successfully deployed by the UK MoD in Afghanistan.”
Goh Yu Heng
ST Engineering Local Scholar
Designation: Engineer, ST Aerospace
Studied: Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering), Nanyang Technological University
Rising Above Their Challenges
Also on the pursuit to redefine ST Engineering’s boundaries is Goh Yu Heng, ST Engineering Local Scholar and Engineer in ST Aerospace. Yu Heng is a fresh face in the corporation, having only started work less than a year ago. He shares that the enjoyment he derived from solving mechanical problems – for instance, when repairing and modifying his bicycle – drove him to pursue his Diploma in Aerospace Technology at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and eventually his scholarship with ST Engineering.
At ST Aerospace, Yu Heng focuses on the thermal management of different aircraft platforms. Equipped with the knowledge of the aircraft’s environmental control systems, he is able to design suitable cooling mechanisms which can prevent hotspots and ensure uninterrupted operations. He also has to take into account other factors such as modification complexity, maintainability, cost, timeline as well as the overall impact of the new design. Yu Heng tells us that the greatest challenge new engineers face is the lack of technical knowledge that can only come with continuous learning and experience. He shares, “For new engineers, partners and customers will expect you to be the subject matter expert even though you may have only just graduated from university. That’s why I have to make sure I learn fast, constantly upgrade my skills and have a clear idea of what I’m doing, so that I’m able to substantiate my work should customers question my design reviews.”
Thankfully, ST Engineering exposes its scholars to the corporation during their undergraduate days in a bid to alleviate the challenges they will face as new engineers. For Yu Heng, he completed two internships with ST Aerospace prior to his vocation. His first internship as a mechanical designer in the rotary wing group and his second internship experience in building an aircraft prototype gave him a broad overview and a clearer understanding of ST Aerospace’s diverse operations.
On Harold’s end, he has also had numerous opportunities to help him overcome his challenges. In order to develop a new platform with seaworthy features capable of swimming in open sea conditions with treacherous waves, his team had to perform extensive analysis and design work. Harold and his team were given the opportunity to take a course in Naval Architecture, a course specially sourced for them by one of Harold’s seniors, to gain a more intimate study of the field.
Furthermore, Harold was tasked to plan the scope of engagement of expert consultancies to jointly develop the platform, and even travelled overseas with his supervisor to evaluate these consultancies and discuss their engagement. He shares, “Over the past two years, I’ve seen the plan to fruition. The highlight was testing a scale model of the vehicle in a towing tank in the US, exposing it to waves similar to those in the open sea to understand the platform’s seaworthiness. It was heartening to learn that our platform was seaworthy, and I also had the opportunity to meet a renowned expert in the field of towing tank testing.”
A Place to Grow
Harold has had the chance to hone not only his technical and analytical skills, but also to develop his communication skills. He recently gave a talk at the Singapore Airshow and during National Engineers Day 2014, and also emceed the ST Kinetics staff briefing. “I have since been able to improve my communication skills and make conscientious efforts to be clear and succinct in my talks. Good communication skills are vital when it comes to working with teams from different divisions,” he reveals.
Harold also shares that ST Engineering boasts an excellent support network and seeks to facilitate the development of its scholars. He is currently undergoing the Young Engineers Leadership Programme, where young engineers from other organisations like PUB and DSTA are given a platform to network and gain skills that will help them better position their company’s business.
Furthermore, scholars are paired with a mentor upon their arrival at the organisation. Yu Heng tells us, “A mentor who has a lot of experience in the field and vast technical knowledge is especially valuable to new engineers. My mentor took her time to listen to my queries and share her thoughts with me. The interaction sessions organised for scholars and top management also offer us a platform to listen to valuable insights from experienced seniors in the company.”
Harold Au Shao Xian
ST Engineering Overseas Scholar
Designation: Senior Engineer, ST Kinetics
Studied: Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with Double Major in Economics, Duke University, US
Harold hopes to play a key role in entrenching the company as a global player and in continuing to develop high-value engineering solutions. He also hopes to delve into new areas to gain exposure to other aspects of the conglomerate’s business, more specifically in the Aerospace or Marine sectors.
Yu Heng’s thoughts follow the same path – he hopes to build up a solid technical background before venturing into other aspects of ST Engineering’s business, which include programme management, technical specialisation and sales. In fact, he tells us that the range of opportunities within ST Aerospace, let alone ST Engineering, is wide and scholars should be exposed to various areas before deciding which area they want to go into.
He details, “Multiple areas in ST Aerospace include design and manufacturing, aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul, upgrades and enhancement modifications. Aspiring scholars should read up about the various areas within ST Engineering and take on internships to better understand where their interests lie.”
Harold concludes, “A scholarship decision is one that will shape the next decade of your life. Aspiring scholars should be passionate in science and technology, be familiar with ST Engineering’s core businesses and demonstrate the drive and ambition to carve out a fruitful career in engineering.”