G iven the national issues of land scarcity and limited natural resources, Singapore’s story is one that is written with determination and resilience. By tapping on advanced technology as well as a pool of talented individuals driven with passion, Singapore is able to overcome these unique challenges.
The national water agency, PUB and National Environment Agency (NEA) play integral roles in sustaining a stable supply of clean running water and a clean and green environment for future generations. We speak to NEW Scholars Ming Hwang and Jaren, to learn more about how their roles contribute to safeguarding Singapore’s water supply and environment.
While exploring your scholarship options, what made the NEW Scholarship standout?
Teh Ming Hwang: As a small nation, we have a fascinating water story to tell with developments like NEWater, the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System and desalinated water to meet our long term water needs. It felt natural for me to choose an engineering organisation such as PUB, as it offers exciting opportunities from test-bedding of new technologies, to exploring innovative engineering solutions to tackle challenges such as land scarcity and water and environmental sustainability.
Teh Ming Hwang
National Environmental and Water (NEW) Scholar
Engineer, Engineering Development and Procurement Department, PUB
In addition, taking on the NEW Scholarship with the national water agency, PUB, was an opportunity for me to play a role in writing the next chapter of Singapore’s water story.
Soo Yu Xiang Jaren: I first became aware of how vulnerable the environment was when I was in Primary 5. The National Environment and Water (NEW) Scholarship stood out as it offered me the opportunity to do my part for Singapore and her environment.
Tell us more about your role at work.
Ming Hwang: As an Engineer at PUB’s Engineering Development and Procurement Department, my role is to undertake infrastructural projects such as the building of new water treatment plants. At present, I am handling two projects – the construction of a third desalination plant in Tuas and the expansion of the Kranji NEWater Factory.
I am involved in the entire project lifecycle which includes engineering studies, budgeting, design review, calling of tenders, management of the design and construction, testing and commissioning, and plant proving.
Jaren: I am currently an Executive with NEA’s Food and Environment Hygiene Department. A part of my job is to provide an independent audit on the quality of piped water supply, which is conducted through site inspections, audits of water quality test results and checks on the water safety plans submitted by water suppliers.
In addition, I am responsible for various matters relating to public swimming pools such as reviews, regulations and policies, answering queries, internal and external collaboration on projects and any other interesting matters that may come along the way.
Soo Yu Xiang Jaren
National Environmental and Water (NEW) Scholar
Executive (Drinking Water Unit), Food & Environmental Hygiene Department, NEA
What are some of the challenges you face at work?
Ming Hwang: The challenge in managing projects is that they need to be delivered to specifications under time and cost constraints. Dealing with uncertainty is important as the engineering solution has to go through various iterations – the full picture is not always available, but it is always important to have a clear view of the big picture. This will allow us to be in control of the project. There can be subjective elements even when dealing with well-developed technologies like membrane systems, so it is important to objectively evaluate the design against the requirements. Building a water treatment plant is a multi-disciplinary effort – there are civil and structural works that deal with the building construction, there are electrical works to provide power to run the pumps, there are process works to develop the different chemical systems, there are control works for remote monitoring and control, etc. Interpersonal communication is critical here to keep the different parties talking to each other and 3D modelling can help identify any problems. There are many stakeholders involved, from the government authorities to our partners, and it is necessary to balance their various needs. It is important to engage them to set and manage expectations.
Jaren: Due to the regulatory nature of our work, it is hard to predict when and what type of problems will surface – even more so as I handle a few projects at the same time. Therefore, I find that it is important to find time to take stock of things happening around. This ensures that, despite its unpredictability, I am still able to complete my tasks within the stipulated deadlines.
Any advice for those considering the NEW Scholarship?
Ming Hwang: As the adage goes, the way to do great things is to love what you do. It is important to have a passion for the new generation of environmental and water issues our nation faces. Aspiring NEW Scholarship engineers would find numerous project opportunities to practise and develop their proficiency in their respective disciplines.
Jaren: My advice to anyone interested in taking up a scholarship is to be aware that a scholarship is a career choice. Apply for the NEW Scholarship if you are someone who believes in making a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment!