ME4 Benjamin Ng is an Air Force Engineer who is now serving his staff tour as a Senior Analyst in the Defence Policy Office. The SAF Engineering Scholarship recipient has a Master of Engineering in Electrical & Electronics Engineering with Management from Imperial College London.
As an Air Force Engineer in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), Military Expert 4 (ME4) Benjamin led his team in maintaining the electrical systems of the F-15SG fighter jets so that they are in peak condition, ready to deploy at a moment's notice.
The knowledgeable engineer took a break from his duties to speak with us on his journey.
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to meet us. How did you discover the career opportunity with the RSAF?
It was a meaningful conversation with an RSAF officer during a career roadshow that stuck with me and convinced me to take up a career with the Air Force.
As I recall, I asked him why he chose to continue to serve even though his bond with the RSAF had ended. He replied that he stayed not simply for the "higher purpose" of defending Singapore, but for the men and women who worked alongside him on a common mission. And having served as an Officer-in-Charge myself, I find this camaraderie and people-oriented style of leadership and teamwork to be true and rewarding.
You signed on with the RSAF before applying for the SAF Engineering Scholarship. Why the RSAF, specifically?
After completing my A-levels, I wanted a job that would be dynamic, exciting and allow me to see the world. I also wanted a purposeful career that would help push me through the daily grind.
I chose the RSAF because of its strong focus on team excellence, to serve in a role that allowed me to contribute to the defence and security of our country, adding purpose to my daily work.
How does the SAF Engineering Scholarship differ from the SAF Merit Scholarship?
The SAF Engineering Scholarship is meant to develop you as an engineering leader in the SAF. This means exposing you to experiences and opportunities to hone both your leadership and operational-technical skills.
Hence, you will also be offered opportunities to be rotated to the Defence Technology Community, for instance, DSTA and DSO National Laboratories, to further develop yourself technically as an engineer.
We can all agree that learning does not end with earning a degree. What sort of support does the RSAF provide for its officers, in terms of continuous improvement?
The RSAF has given me numerous opportunities to broaden my learning beyond my university studies. For example, I attended summer school at Harvard University where I studied International Relations and Game Theory. I've also attended country-related courses where I've learnt about their politics and culture, and other courses on agile methodologies. These have broadened my horizons and also prepared me to take on roles beyond my vocation as an engineer.
You started your career with the RSAF as an Air Force Engineer. Tell us more about your duties and responsibilities.
After I graduated, I returned to the RSAF as an Officer-in-Charge in 817 SQN. In this role, I led a team of engineers to maintain the electrical systems of the F-15SG fighter jet for daily operational and training requirements.
As an engineer, I worked closely with my team to troubleshoot aircraft defects expeditiously. This required us to not only understand our technical systems well, but also the mission and operating context that was needed for the next day's flying.
As a leader, I was also responsible for my team's training, morale and discipline. I took on leadership responsibility right from the start, and although this responsibility is daunting, it is especially rewarding when you help others develop and explore their potential.
It is this unique combination of military leadership and engineering that allows me to enjoy the work I do in the RSAF.
Aside from a combat or technical position, what career possibilities are there for people in the RSAF?
There are many different career paths and appointments you can look forward to in the RSAF. We get rotated through different appointments on a regular basis, and every appointment comes with unique opportunities to learn.
Although I began my journey as an Air Force Engineer, I am now serving my staff tour as a Senior Analyst in the Defence Policy Office and work at the intersection of technology, policy and strategy. Instead of troubleshooting defects, I now formulate policy recommendations and conduct strategic planning to support defence diplomacy. This is why an RSAF career is dynamic and exciting, with lots to learn in each role!
Lastly, what would you say to convince someone to join the RSAF?
A career with the RSAF is demanding and challenging. However, it is also a career that will be dynamic, meaningful, and surround you with people who strive for excellence towards a common mission.
I've enjoyed a wide range of experiences, and made many friends along the way. This job is definitely exciting and gives you the opportunity to positively impact those you lead. Take the leap!