“Singapore was built on the backs of engineers,” said PM Lee Hsien Loong in 2016, and it still rings true today as we begin 2018. Engineering has indeed been a transformative power in Singapore as the country morphed into the modern state that it is today, and looking forward to the future, will continue to play a huge role in the coming years.
As 2018 begins, we look back to where we were in engineering and then look forward toward where else engineering can take us.
Today we no longer see an engineer as someone who has grease on their hands and is working on a machine; although most engineers won’t mind getting their hands dirty. Today, engineering is about creating solutions and innovating for the future.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, for example, is changing the landscape of space flight and the potential for Martian manned missions. Aside from these strides in advancements in rocket science, he is also the CEO of Tesla Inc., producers of electronic cars—one of the foundations of a sustainable, more environment-friendly future.
Engineers now are leading thinkers, changing people’s lives and creating dreams for the future.
Manufacturing brought forth a renewed need for engineering. Engineering was once a labour-intensive industry suited only for low-cost economies. However, as technology caught up and manufacturing became more advanced, with computers taking over entire manufacturing lines, a need for people who can understand such schemes had a resurgence in the industry.
In the past few years, engineering is among the top professions in Singapore with the most vacancies. To keep public infrastructures going, Singapore needs a thousand more engineers each year! However, it since has been difficult to attract top students to go into the field of engineering. Why is that?
For one, engineering is said to be highly underestimated, with some companies underpaying engineers, breaking the stereotype that engineers are highly compensated. PM Lee warns that if the situation continues, Singapore will not be at the cutting edge of fields, even the ones Singapore is competent in.
To break the drought, schools are starting to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) while the public sector continues to introduce engineering as a career path to continue attracting talents.
Beginning with a kick(start)
Name an engineering company in Singapore that began with a kick-starter project? If the country wishes to protect its Engineering competence, adaptation is needed. Kick-starters are good for companies that are starting from scratch.
But Singapore is not starting from scratch. What the country needs is to continue to evolve and revolutionize engineering; to continue to drive for innovation and competitiveness that will push Singaporeans to their creative limits.
Engineering is one of Singapore’s foundations. Strengthen the pursuit of excellence in engineering, and the country’s future is bright.