As champions of the development of an excellent built environment in Singapore, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) leads the industry towards the adoption of innovative and productive construction methods and practices. Its mission to shape a safe, high quality, sustainable, and friendly built environment is a vast one, spearheaded by passionate individuals who are committed to making buildings in Singapore a suitable place for people of all ages, abilities, and needs.
Kwek Yong, 27, is one such individual; she opens up about what her work as a Senior Engineer with BCA entails, and what drives her to contribute to BCA’s vision.
My scholarship journey so far involves experiences across various roles. I started out gaining experience in building safety and regulatory compliance of building works through the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) system. In this context, I conducted building inspections on new development works about three times a week, attended to public feedback, and participated in workgroup meetings for new initiatives like Building Information Modelling (BIM). After this, I was seconded to the Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA) to gain experience in design work. I was involved in the ground improvement works at Changi East.
I’m now back at BCA, where I’m dealing with structural safety matters and verifying that qualified persons and accredited checkers adhere to accepted design codes and standards. I also look at structural designs for innovative non-traditional construction methods, such as prefabricated prefinished volumetric construction (PPVC) and cross-laminated timber (CLT).
BCA Local Undergraduate Scholarship Senior Engineer (Bridges and Structural Steel Department)
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil)
– National University of Singapore
Masters of Science (Civil Engineering)
– National University of Singapore
I’m driven by the opportunities to build something from scratch that lasts. As I learned more about the industry, the work became more interesting and I found that there was even more to learn. When I was studying, I really enjoyed my time in Chinese Orchestra, and I would compare a construction project to a carefully choreographed piece of music; the designers, builders, sub-contractors, and workers come together to make an end product that can last beyond a lifetime.
I most appreciate the internship at BCA as part of my scholarship programme. I was rotated to four departments in three months, which provided me with invaluable experience and a better understanding into BCA’s varied roles quickly. I also got to know colleagues from different departments. The insights and relationships I developed during my internship are very helpful now, especially when working on cross-department projects.
Being awarded with this scholarship also enabled me to go on an exchange programme for a semester in Germany! It was a great experience living abroad independently, making international friends, and travelling to various parts of Europe.
The best moments at work are how willing my seniors and bosses were ready to teach me the various technical and regulatory requirements despite of their busy schedules. When we come across something new, we will not hesitate to find out more from others until we’ve fully understood the matter or obtained a satisfactory answer. I really appreciate that everyone learns together.
Career-wise, I hope to continue to do work that helps to ensure that buildings and structures are safe in Singapore. This is especially so for old buildings undergoing additions and alteration works to retrofit or modernise their layouts; these buildings carry slightly higher risks than new buildings. In the long term, I hope that my efforts in BCA will help the industry to work more simply and safely.
Consider this scholarship if you enjoy work that will make a difference in Singapore’s built environment, from everyday regulatory work like reviewing structural designs or inspecting sites, to formulating over-arching policies like productivity and sustainability targets or promoting local enterprises in an industry with strong foreign players. The exposure is wideranging. It may sound challenging, but that is what makes the work rewarding as well!
My advice for aspiring scholars: Don’t worry if you are unsure about what you want to achieve in your career at this point in time, because you will have the opportunity to experience different job scopes during your internship at BCA. There are also job rotations every two to three years after graduation, so you’ll have chances to see which job best fits your principles and style. After three job postings, I’ve found a job I truly and deeply enjoy.
It’s also useful to cultivate the habit of lifelong learning. What you learnt in university may not be enough to tackle the varied roles that BCA plays. It is crucial that you continually learn to keep up with industry trends, marrying various disciplines where necessary.