SGRail Industry Scholarship
Feature | SGRail Industry Scholarship

Onward Bound for Success

The SGRail Industry Scholarship offers aspiring engineers a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in both the public and private sectors, enabling them to play an active role in shaping the rail landscape. Scholars Abdal Hakeem Syaakir Bin Abdullhakam and Brandon Joshua Fong share how they have benefitted from the scholarship.

Left: Brandon is an SGRail Industry Scholarship recipient. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) from NUS and interned with SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) at the Maintenance Engineering Centre in July 2023. He will be joining SMRT's Engineering and Management Associate Programme, which develops fresh graduates for future success in the rail industry.

Right: Hakeem is a graduate with Highest Distinction in Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) from NTU. He has also completed his Master of Science in Transport at Imperial College London. He is a recipient of the SGRail Industry Scholarship and has joined SBS Transit as an Engineer (Executive).

In any thriving nation, a well-connected bus and rail network serves as the backbone of urban success. Singapore exemplifies this as it forges ahead in shaping the future of transportation. At the heart of this endeavour is the SGRail Industry Scholarship, offering individuals a gateway to exposure, growth, and an opportunity to shape Singapore’s evolving rail landscape.

Among the exemplary individuals embodying the success of the scholarship are Brandon Joshua Fong and Abdal Hakeem Syaakir Bin Abdullhakam. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) from NUS. His insightful internship with SMRT at the Maintenance Engineering Centre gave him a comprehensive and broader understanding of the transportation landscape.

On the other hand, Hakeem holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) degree from NTU and a Master of Science in Transport at Imperial College London. He is currently an Engineer (Executive) with SBS Transit where he will eventually specialise in Permanent Way and Civil Structures, which involve the maintenance and repair of the track and tunnel.

They highlight the profound impact of the scholarship and how it has inspired them to make a difference in the rail industry.

1 A World of Opportunities

Brandon: Having been set on a career in SMRT and the railway industry, the SGRail Industry Scholarship seemed like the perfect opportunity to hit the ground running as a professional. It allows me to be well-prepared before graduation. I was attached to SMRT for an internship and it gave me the opportunity to engage in project evaluations and collaborate with diverse professionals. I’ve not only gained exposure to cutting-edge technologies in the market but also accessed valuable information and conducted significant research, amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic. This additional exposure has deepened my understanding of railway technologies.

Hakeem Syaakir: Being an SGRail Industry Scholar, I had the opportunity to interact with other scholars and stakeholders through various engagement sessions. This allows me to gain insightful knowledge and experiences. I have also developed leadership skills and learnt the importance of responsibility, as well as the constant need for innovation and improvement in the working environment.

2 Driven by a Purpose

Brandon: Being part of the railway industry, especially in Singapore, is captivating. The significance lies in the fact that our work directly impacts the daily lives of millions. Every train ride is a testament of how our efforts make a difference to the community.

3 Cultivating Hands-on Expertise

Brandon: Developing an analysis algorithm in Python to assess insights on track behaviour was one of the most substantial challenges I’ve taken on. This project is aimed at equipping the team with insights into track behaviour over time. This understanding helps us proactively address potential track failures, ensuring the continuity of train services without disruptions and consequently, maintaining the quality of the passengers’ travel experience. It was a highly technical but yet profoundly meaningful project.

4 Gaining Invaluable Exposure

Brandon: Our site visits to key entities like Land Transport Authority (LTA), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), and PSA Singapore provided me with exposure and a better understanding of the railway industry. Additionally, we gained a comprehensive understanding of the the transportation landscape as a whole.

The unique structure of the SGRail Industry Scholarship, with two years at the Public Transport Operator (PTO) that they are with, followed by two years with LTA, empowers scholars to bridge the gap between PTOs’ and government perspectives. This dual experience enables us to shape thoughtful solutions that benefit the public.

Hakeem Syaakir: The SGRail Industry Scholarship has provided me with great exposure to both public and private sectors within the transportation industry. Through my attachments and projects, I’ve had the opportunity to work with organisations like the LTA as well as other PTOs such as SBS Transit. My 20-week internship with LTA provided me with insights into the transportation industry in Singapore. I was involved in various projects that required cooperation between the rail operators and private contractors. These diverse perspectives have enhanced my understanding of the complexities and collaborations required for a seamless transportation network.

5 Acquiring Valuable Insights

Hakeem Syaakir: The scholarship has also given me the opportunity to attend forums, and one of them was a session, where we discussed the impact of Covid-19 as well as the future of the transportation sector in Singapore. SBS Transit also conducts regular engagement sessions with its Group CEO and senior management team, and this helps us understand our role and prospects in the company. All these interactions have enhanced my appreciation of the intricate dynamics, regulatory frameworks, and operational challenges in the transportation industry.

6 Developing a Global Perspective

Hakeem Syaakir: I was given the opportunity to further my studies at Imperial College London, where I took up the Masters Programme. During my studies, I learned about international best practices, the latest technologies, and innovative approaches to urban transportation and rail systems. With my knowledge, I hope to enhance our rail operations and infrastructure, and make a positive impact to the lives of people in Singapore.