Lim Chu Rui is a Civil Engineer with MPA. He is a recipient of the MPA Mid-Term Scholarship and holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering) from Nanyang Technological University.
S ingapore celebrated its bicentennial a year ago, and much of the story revolved around how the nation’s bustling port had contributed significantly to its success. 200 years later, Maritime Singapore continues to play an important role in Singapore’s economy, but the challenges are no longer the same. Today, the sector has to compete globally and constantly innovate and transform in order to stay ahead of the curve.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is the driving force behind Singapore’s port and maritime development. MPA partners the industry and other agencies to enhance safety, security and environmental protection in our port waters; facilitate port operation and growth; expand the cluster of maritime ancillary services; and promote maritime R&D and manpower development.
To strengthen Singapore’s hub port status, MPA embarked on the development of the next-generation Tuas Port (NGP) a few years back. Civil Engineer Lim Chu Rui is a member of MPA’s Engineering team, driving this project to fruition. The 26-year-old shared with BrightSparks his involvement with the project and his experience as a MPA Mid-Term Undergraduate Scholar.
You currently work as a Civil Engineer at MPA. How did you get interested in your field?
There were many moments that reaffirmed my interest in Civil Engineering. One of such was a scene on the TV show “Prison Break” where the protagonist, a Structural Engineer by training, referred to the principle of “Young modulus”. It was simply intriguing! Another was during my visit to my alma mater shortly after the school was redeveloped. I was impressed by how the heritage corners were preserved and fitted in so well into the largely reconstructed school compound. It exhibited the remarkable work of a Civil Engineer and that further deepened my interest in this field. My dad played an important role in this aspect too. Being in the hardware trade, I witnessed how he often applied practical hardware solutions in our homes to bring about great convenience to our daily lives. His ethos influenced me to always marry the pragmatic aspects of designs with engineering.
You took on MPA Mid-Term Undergraduate Scholarship. In your opinion, why should students pursue a scholarship?
A scholarship will expose you to the diverse and meaningful work in addition to the financial support that will be provided by the organisation. When I was an undergraduate, I completed a short internship stint at MPA where I was rotated from the Tuas Port Development to the Port Planning Department before landing my current role in the Building and Infrastructure Department.
How did you discover the scholarship, and why did you shortlist it?
I read civil engineering in university and naturally, I want my first job to capitalise on my strength. With this career aspiration, I shared with my university professors whom I’m grateful for because their recommendations and encouragement have marshalled my motivation to pursue a scholarship. In fact, they recommended several scholarship providers where they believed I would contribute in many ways and MPA was one of them.
What was the defining factor that made you apply for the scholarship?
The scholarship will be the gateway to your first job when you embark on your career. Therefore, it is important that it is aligned to your interests, beliefs and broader life activities that can help you to perform to the best of your capabilities. I want an environment where I can connect with my colleagues on a collegial or even personal level and the down-to-earth interviews and assessment in MPA bolstered my decision to go for it.
How did you apply what you have learnt to your current work at MPA?
The transition from university to work life is not easy especially as a newcomer to the field and the organisation. Therefore, to build credibility and positive regard, it is important to be a good team player and work closely with your colleagues. Demonstrate your willingness to learn from your colleagues and benefit from their experience.
Tell us more about your involvement with the Tuas Port.
The Tuas Port, when fully operational, will be the largest single mega container terminal at a single site in the world. There will also be a Port Operations Control Centre to ensure navigational safety of vessels in our port waters and the Singapore Strait. I am glad to be able to value-add to this strategic, cross-functional project team. My role includes coordination work with different stakeholders from various divisions for the preliminary planning information and the collaboration with consultants for detailed designs to kickstart construction of the control centre.
Beyond this building project, I am also involved in a research pilot study to testbed new construction methodology that reduces reliance on steel reinforcement for the port foundation. This is an eye-opening experience for me as we explore alternatives while championing a sustainable port of the future.
What is your most significant career achievement to date?
I recall vividly giving a presentation to C-suite leaders on a building project. Though I was only four months into my job and still learning the ropes, I took a leap of faith and embraced the challenge. Fortunately, I was able to articulate my ideas and opinions persuasively enough to rally their support for the project. I also count myself most blessed to work under my Division Director who advocates personal and career development for all staff.
It sounds like MPA has a very encouraging work environment.
Indeed. We have autonomy and feedback from a people-centric culture that encourages ideation and innovation. As a junior Engineer, I am privileged and grateful to get to work closely with the Chief Engineer who provided me great exposure and learning experiences. The clarity and support provided by my supervisor have helped me in adapting to the ever-changing industry and having a sense of purpose in my daily work.
What possibilities are there for scholars working at your organisation?
Building a comprehensive and holistic learning workplace is one of the organisation’s objectives. The lens of engineering looks beyond just construction, it encompasses preliminary engineering planning and integration, design reviews, construction and contract management. A career in MPA spans from formulation to execution. I am glad for the breadth of these learning opportunities and possibilities that MPA provides. Join with an open mind and a genuine desire to learn, there are ample resources for personal and professional growth!
Chu Rui enjoys watching movies and his favourite is Marvel’s The Avengers. He sometimes imagines himself as Ironman, not only because the superhero is also an Engineer, but because Ironman is flexible, innovative and always thinking ahead.