Class of 2020: SITizens Overcome Odds

In the first of this mini series, 'Class of 2020', we see how grit and positivity enabled two of our graduates to achieve all that they have today.


The Class of 2020 has displayed an admirable resilience, having had to adjust to online learning and examinations in the final year of their studies. However, they had been overcoming challenges way before COVID-19. In the first article of this mini series, 'Class of 2020', we see how grit and positivity enabled two of our Engineering graduates to achieve all that they have today.


Arvinderpal Singh S/O Kuldeep Singh, Offshore Engineering (Class of 2020)

SITizen Arvin from the Class of 2020 has done well academically, emerging as the top performer in the Offshore Engineering programme jointly offered by SIT and Newcastle University. Having received the DNV GL MaritimeONE Scholarship from 2019-2020, he is currently employed as a Research Scientist/Consultant at DNV GL in the Maritime Advisory Team, pursuing his strong passion for research in a sector related to his field of study.

On a daily basis, he supports a team of experienced consultants and engineers in advisory projects, as well as research and innovation activities including the use of new technologies in the maritime sector, such as blockchain, drones, autonomous and zero-emission vessels, and data analytics.

However, Arvin's road to success was not without challenges. "As I was a direct-entry student to Year 2 in the Offshore Engineering programme, it was difficult for me to blend in as the majority of my classmates had initially bonded in Year 1," he shared. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to visit Newcastle University during the Overseas Immersion Programme (OIP), as that allowed me to further foster our bond as classmates. Even today, we catch up from time to time."

"I was rejected six times during my scholarship interviews," Arvin recounted, citing not having prior work experience as one of the reasons he was unsuccessful. He persevered and eventually landed himself a scholarship with DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management company. He also was one of the last among his peers to get an offer for his Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP).

But he pressed on and eventually received an offer from Sembcorp Marine's R&D department. Moreover, he managed to secure the Best Poster (Gold Award) for Offshore Engineering in 2019 despite his hurdles in finding a suitable engineering problem for his IWSP.

During the Circuit Breaker last year, Arvin experienced difficulty gaining access to work on his Capstone Project as the software he was using was not commercialised. Thanks to the guidance of his supervisors and professors, he was able to work around it and complete the project. Beyond that, his Capstone Project has been selected to be published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering and is currently being reviewed.

Arvin's mantra of learning from every mistake today, so that he can become a better version of himself tomorrow, has certainly served him well till now. He plans to pursue his masters in five years' time, after he has gained more work experience. "The few years of industry-related experience will help me distinguish what I would ultimately want to pursue as a post graduate degree," he shared.


Goh Wern Ferng, Systems Engineering (ElectroMechanical Systems)* (Class of 2020)

Wern Ferng is a graduate of the Systems Engineering (ElectroMechanical Systems) (SEEMS)* programme jointly offered by SIT and DigiPen Institute of Technology (Singapore). Even before graduation, he had received, and accepted, an advanced job offer from IFSC Pte Ltd, a technology innovation small and medium enterprise (SME) that provides advanced integrated solutions for the facilities services industry. This was following an eight-month IWSP with the company, where he received good feedback from his employer.

In addition, his Capstone Project, done in collaboration with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore, received an 'A' grade. The project delved into how autonomous tow trucks could address the declining number of tow truck drivers in order to continue meeting the needs of the industry. Wern Ferng was the mechanical lead and software co-lead, leading the team of five in the proposal of the idea, product conceptualisation, and making of the 3D model.

Life for this robot enthusiast (he has collected a different part of a robot from a magazine each month as a young boy) was not always smooth sailing. After his O-Levels, he chose to pursue architecture in polytechnic due to the perceived 'image' of the industry. However, he soon realised that his niche did not lie in the creative industry, and looked into the engineering field, where he could hone more practical skills. The SEEMS programme stood out for him, as it emphasised on the acquisition of multi-disciplinary hands-on skills and knowledge on managing complex systems.

When he entered the SEEMS programme, he thought he was finally back on the right track. Unfortunately, at the end of Year 1, he didn't perform very well, and naturally started to question whether he had made the right choice in pursuing systems engineering. However, he reassessed his priorities and recalibrated his intentions to commit to the programme. The turning point came during one of his programming modules, when he was tasked to programme a device to move; this sparked a renewed interest in systems engineering.

During his IWSP as a Robotics intern at IFSC Pte Ltd, he helped troubleshoot and fix cleaning robots, made improvements to client projects, and helped build a docking station for field/service robots. Now, as a full-time employee of the company, he continues to work on what he loves – robots and robotics systems. Wern Ferng aspires to become a full-stack software developer, as he wants to be at the frontier of technological innovation.


Arvin and Wern Ferng have truly overcome many odds to get to where they are today. Stay tuned for the next feature on the Class of 2020 mini series for more stories.


* Starting Academic Year 2021, the SEEMS programme will be renamed to Bachelor of Engineering in Mechatronics Systems.