Lee Si Min is a Senior Engineer at Building and Construction Authority (BCA), where she develops standards and policies to encourage the adoption of Super Low Energy Buildings locally. The BCA Undergraduate Scholar has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from University of Cambridge.
In the throes of the Covid-19, construction work was halted for two months, leaving the sector facing unprecedented difficulties. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) took on the challenge of helping the sector get back on its feet, positioning itself as a one-stop centre for construction companies to navigate new requirements in the wake of the pandemic. This included setting up an extensive Restart Operations Centre at its Braddell Campus to assist workers returning to work.
Despite dedicating resources to helping firms grapple with the “new normal”, BCA continued to press on with industry transformation, embracing digital solutions and implementing further workplace safety requirements.
In particular, BCA maintained its focus on the next Green Building Masterplan – a vital step in mitigating climate change. The Masterplan is currently developing standards for mandatory minimum environmental sustainability and energy performance. A key thrust is encouraging the mainstreaming of “Super Low Energy Buildings” - buildings that achieve at least 40% energy savings based on the prevailing code.
Lee Si Min, Senior Engineer in the Super Low Energy Buildings Department, is an integral part of this push. Her Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cambridge has helped her to better understand the standards and framework, which then helps her put forth suggestions and strategies when reviewing the work in her department.
“The work is exciting and meaningful,” enthused the 29-year-old. “Besides contributing towards building a safe, sustainable and quality home for my friends, family, and the wider community, there are also many career development programs and opportunities to grow within BCA for me.”
Building a Career
Si Min has gained exposure through different postings during her six years in BCA, with each role pushing her to tackle new challenges. The opportunities BCA afforded her included a position in the Green Building Policy Department developing climate change mitigation strategies for the building sector, an attachment to a private consultancy firm, and supporting her Professional Engineer (PE) qualification.
“[Attaining my PE qualification] was a key milestone in my career,” says Si Min. “As a PE, I can better appreciate the engineering challenges in building projects and contribute more effectively when formulating standards and requirements for the sector.”
However, the learning does not stop there for Si Min, who shared some of the more memorable experiences and anecdotes on her work at BCA.
“I had the rare opportunity to attend the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015 for the launch of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. It was an eye-opening experience!” she recalled.
“Delegates from all over the world came together to negotiate the Paris Agreement. Through the experience, I learnt to look at the climate change issue from the angle of foreign affairs and gained a deeper understanding of the intricacies of climate change negotiations.”
Speaking of intricacies, navigating Singapore's built environment regulations can be circuitous and convoluted. In such instances, Si Min is grateful that BCA sponsored her undergraduate studies, which thoroughly grounded her in this multifaceted field.
She elaborated: “My course in Cambridge University allowed me to study general engineering for the first two years, before specialising in a specific field. This prepared me well for my current work, where issues are often interdisciplinary.”
“For example, during my previous rotation in the Investigation and Enforcement Department, I investigated lifts and escalator incidents. Often, an incident is caused by both a mechanical and electrical failure. Hence, I needed to have a thorough knowledge of both mechanical and electrical engineering to fully understand the issue and work towards a solution.”
In the Thick of Transformation at BCA
As BCA tackles difficult issues that encompass a range of disciplines, a collaborative and open culture is key to effective work. Si Min's colleagues are friendly and approachable, always ready to lend a helping hand.
“I can always reach out to them when I face challenges,” she smiled gratefully.
Si Min is a huge foodie and in her spare time, she posts reviews and photos on her Instagram. Look her up @blue.sheep.dog if you have the chance!
BCA extends the same open invitation to those looking for a career in the built environment sector. As Si Min said, BCA is in the thick of “real engineering work”, be it pushing the boundaries of energy-efficient technologies or redefining communication and regulation within the industry.
There are special advantages for scholars too: “Scholars can expect regular rotations to different departments to gain a wider perspective of the work that BCA does. BCA is also very supportive of external attachments where you can hone your engineering skills and enhance your understanding of the industry.”
To all graduating students out there, follow Si Min and “be positive and seek the opportunities in this new normal!”