Left: Yong En, who works in the Electricity System
Department of EMA, is a recipient of the EMA Overseas
Undergraduate Scholarship. He holds a Master of
Engineering from the Imperial College of London.
Right: Arijit Joshi, an EMA Local Mid-Term Undergraduate Scholar, is currently pursuing a Bachelor in Engineering Science with Management at the National University of Singapore.
As a cosmopolitan city that never sleeps, it takes engineering might and main to keep the nation reliably and securely powered round the clock. This is where EMA, a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, plays three critical roles – as Power Systems Operator, Industry Developer, and Industry Regulator.
The next 50 years will be even more challenging for our city-state. How will we build our energy supplies in a way that is sustainable, reliable and affordable for the next 50 years? Lee Yong En and Arijit Joshi are two EMA scholars who hope to be part of the team that shapes Singapore’s Energy Story.
Powering the Future
When asked if it was nature or nurture that influenced the young Yong En’s interest in engineering, the answer is crystal-clear for the 26-year-old EMA engineer.
“I’ve always looked up to my dad who was an engineer. It is a profession that melds creativity with logic. Almost every engineering problem can be solved with math and physics. At the same time, this felt like a natural fit for me. I’ve always been inclined towards the two subjects.”
Not surprisingly, while others dreamed of being doctors or entrepreneurs, Yong En decided early on that he wanted to be an engineer. “I realised that engineering is a broad degree in that every sector needs an engineer, which also means career mobility for me.”
In 2016, he took up a scholarship with EMA and scaled peaks both for fun (he’s an avid skier) and academically at the Imperial College of London. Today, armed with a Masters in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Yong En works as an engineer within EMA’s Electricity System Department (ESD).
“Some of my responsibilities include regulating the operators in the market, such as the generation facilities and SP PowerGrid. We hold our licensees to performance standards so that the quality and reliability of our power supply is assured. Apart from this, ESD also coordinates electricity infrastructure projects that may arise between government agencies and private enterprises.”
Yong En’s role gives him more than just local exposure. Earlier this March, he went on a learning trip to Taiwan. “Going to a country which has accomplished something similar to what we are trying to do, i.e. developing regulations for underground common services ducts/tunnels, allows us to learn bilaterally from their experiences.”
More exciting is “the aspect of future planning” at EMA, especially with the Energy Story as part of the regulator’s new mandate. Looking ahead, the fast transforming energy landscape will require new skill sets and greater innovation towards achieving a more sustainable energy future for Singapore. “It is nice to look forward and say, ‘these are the potential problems and resolutions for Singapore in the next 10 or 15 years. If I start acting on these resolutions now, I am contributing to the solution’.”
As for those who want to follow in his footsteps, he shares that “all the schooling in the world does not teach you half the things that are expected of your role. Don’t focus too much on your grades. It may help open doors, but your experiences will always be more relevant and sought after”.
A Champion of Renewable Energy
We’ve always been told that too much screen time can be a bad thing. But for Arijit Joshi, 22, his preoccupation with science and engineering from young can be accredited to a diet of television. More specifically, a programme called “How It’s Made”.
“I’ve always been intrigued by how things are made. The programme showcased the manufacturing process behind everyday items in easy-to-understand terms. This curiosity, coupled with my interest in the natural sciences and mathematics, is why I am now pursuing both engineering and physics. I am blessed to enjoy what I am studying.”
Now in his sophomore year at the National University of Singapore, Arijit put theory to practice when he interned with EMA to satisfy his curiosity.
“During my 10-week internship, I had the opportunity to receive real-world experiences such as site visits to power plants and stations. I learned first-hand how these are operated and maintained. EMA was also where I met my mentor who taught me about measuring efficiencies, as well as transformations that would have to be made to Singapore’s network systems. My internship was an eye-opener.”
Arijit is looking forward to working with EMA after he graduates, especially with EMA developing Singapore’s Energy Story to achieve a more sustainable energy future. Part of that will be developing policies to support the four Switches which the Energy Story will depend on. These will comprise natural gas, solar energy, regional grid imports and low-carbon alternatives to boost the security and resilience of our energy supply.
“This is in line with what I want to do in the future, which is to help steer Singapore towards the adoption of renewable sources of energy to the point where these are our major sources of energy. This will be an extremely demanding task that will require many years of hard work, but one that I think will be fulfilling and a worthy cause to spend time on.”
Indeed, his mindset will definitely bode him well at EMA.