The maritime industry is an important part of our economy, and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) spearheads the development of Singapore as a premier global hub port and international maritime centre, as well as safeguards and advances Singapore’s strategic maritime interests. MPA invites talented individuals to join them in their mission. To find out more about the MPA experience, we speak to 23-year-old MPA scholar, Kenneth Pang.
Attracted by the opportunity to explore a career in Singapore’s maritime industry, Kenneth took on the MPA Local Mid-Term Undergraduate Scholarship after beginning his undergraduate studies in Chemical Engineering at the National University of Singapore.
He shares, “With maritime trade contributing to seven percent of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product, coupled with almost 1,000 ships anchored in Singapore at any time of the day, the maritime industry plays a significant role in ensuring Singapore’s economic survival.”
Kenneth Pang Chong Zheng
Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering)
– National University of Singapore
The MPA scholarship, Kenneth added, enabled him to experience different job roles through internships and job rotations to prepare for an enriching career in the maritime industry. This was what drew him to apply for the scholarship.
An Unforgettable Experience
Under the scholarship, Kenneth had the opportunity to intern for 12 weeks at the Marine Environment & Safety Department, under MPA’s Operations and Marine Services Division.
Through shadowing Port Chemists in the inspections of vessels before they could berth or shift between anchorages, Kenneth gained a better understanding of MPA’s role in ensuring safe and efficient operations at ports and out at sea. The scope of work included hazardous cargo inspections, for example, that make sure ships carrying dangerous cargo have proper documentation and follow proper stowage procedures, he says.
“I liked how the job had a good mix of deskbound work and travelling out to sea for inspections. There was never a dull day at work, as every vessel to be inspected was different and we always had to be vigilant to ensure that inspections were conducted thoroughly,” Kenneth recalls. “Being able to head out to sea is a unique part of this internship which I will never forget.”
The Deep End
Facing a steep learning curve on the internship also helped Kenneth to adapt quickly in a challenging work environment. The work required him to learn how to conduct the inspections in a short period of time, while learning about vessel construction and revising chemical properties of various hazardous chemicals, among others.
To overcome these new challenges, Kenneth made it a point to document each task he carried out to record his progress and to learn from his past mistakes. “I took time to bookmark and summarise important documents on my phone so that I could refer to them while out at sea,” he explains.
Apart from conducting inspections, Kenneth had the chance to propose ideas to help shipping companies comply with rules and regulations, thereby improving the safety of Singapore’s port waters.
“I analysed past inspection records to determine infringement trends so that we can propose viable solutions for common issues,” he shares.
This required him to familiarise himself with data analysis software, which would come in handy when he starts on a Master’s in Business Analytics at Imperial College London upon graduation, added Kenneth. “With the Tuas Mega Port focusing heavily on automation and big data, my skills would be relevant in logically analysing problems and providing solutions with the help of data. This will be important in enhancing MPA’s efficiency and improve the overall quality of maritime services in Singapore,” he says.
MPA’s commitment to develop its scholars for the important work of protecting Singapore’s maritime interests extends to opportunities beyond our shores. The MPA Scholarship enabled Kenneth to go on exchange programmes at the University of Toronto, Canada and a winter school programme at Hanyang University, South Korea. These were on top of the opportunity to pursue a Masters overseas.
Kenneth says that the maritime industry is abound with opportunities. He states, “I feel that the maritime industry would continue to be relevant especially with Singapore’s geographical location as a maritime hub, and the number of opportunities in the industry will only continue to increase.”