Embarking on an inspiring journey of passion and perseverance, Willie Goh Jia Wei seeks to build his knowledge in mechanical engineering at the Singapore Institute of Technology after a five-year hiatus serving the nation as an engineer in the Air Force. With unwavering determination, Willie is poised to make his mark in the field of engineering, embodying the spirit of a scholar ready to embrace new horizons.
Willie Goh Jia Wei is a graduate of SIT’s Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Mechanical Engineering. (Photo: Jacqueline Ho)
Willie Goh Jia Wei’s fascination with mechanical engineering goes back to his secondary school days when Design and Technology (D&T) became his favourite subject. “I liked how D&T helped me develop my understanding of mechanics and problem-solving skills,” he remarked. “Going through a product development process and seeing the finished product gave me much satisfaction. My interest in engineering was sparked as a result.”
He gained a strong background in engineering while serving as an engineer with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), where he worked on F16 engines, and is now set on furthering his knowledge in the field. Pursuing this goal, he has chosen to read the Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Mechanical Engineering degree at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).
The curriculum encompasses a diverse range of subjects, promoting both theoretical knowledge and practical applications. With a clear emphasis on applied learning and industry exposure, students actively engage in laboratory work, design projects, and work attachments. This approach aims to produce skilled and innovative engineers with strong collaboration and project management abilities, readying them to tackle real-world challenges.
Facing Challenges with Persistence
Willie’s path to SIT wasn’t without obstacles. Initially denied admission due to his English proficiency, he persevered, improving his language skills while fulfilling his RSAF commitments. In 2019, he stumbled upon an advertisement for SIT and saw it as a sign to give his academic dream a final try. “When I learned that they provided a path for specialisation in design, which I liked doing, I became even more determined to apply,” he shared.
His persistence paid off, and he was successfully admitted into SIT in 2020. He went on to become an SIT scholar and has recently graduated this year, moving closer to achieving his ambitions as a mechanical engineer.
He was awarded the SIT Mid-Term Scholarship based on his outstanding academic results and other remarkable traits that define an SIT scholar. One such trait is his unrelenting commitment to improvement – he improved his academic standing from a 3.0 GPA at the polytechnic to a CGPA of 4.28 at SIT. Academia aside, he also volunteers in youth guidance and outreach services to various secondary schools.
Willie working on rapid prototyping for his capstone project in the design workshop at SIT@NP Building. (Photo: Jacqueline Ho)
A Unique SIT Education
Willie was also quick to highlight the attractiveness of the programme curriculum.
SIT’s emphasis on applied learning and workforce readiness appealed to him. The programme’s structure comprises three trimesters a year, including an Overseas Immersion Programme (OIP) in Glasgow, Scotland, an eight-month Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP), and a capstone project, which provided valuable learning experiences in the classroom and the workplace. The three-month trimester break allowed him some downtime to readjust to studying after his five-year hiatus from school, while the OIP allowed him to learn more about other cultures in a foreign country. His work attachment during his IWSP enabled him to learn in an actual workplace and apply his learnings to his capstone project.
Willie admits that adapting to university education was the most challenging aspect of his experience. “The professors had certain expectations of us, but the fundamentals were so foreign to me,” he said. “I had to dedicate more time to learning, unlearning, and relearning.”
Willie’s determination grew stronger during these trials, as shown by his active participation in numerous engineering competitions. With his team, RADnovation, he gamely took on The Mapletree Challenge, National Assistive & Rehabilitation Technology Student Innovation Challenge (ARTSIC), Global Student Innovation Challenge (gSIC), and the James Dyson Award competition. Willie played a pivotal role in generating design ideas and co-led his team to win the Gold award at The Mapletree Challenge 2022, a competition organised by SIT to groom the next generation of sustainability stewards by nurturing their entrepreneurship, problem-solving and presentation skills.
Beaming with pride, he enthused, “I enjoyed the companionship while we worked together, struggled together, and got to know more about one another. We gained much experience working on the project and with our industry mentor. For example, we learned more about how to promote a product and create one.”
Exploring Boundless Horizons
Willie’s education at SIT has catalysed a profound shift in his career outlook, reshaping his entire approach. “The projects I undertook at SIT taught me how to use concepts from the various modules to solve problems,” he said. He emphasises that SIT’s curriculum also armed him with crucial time management skills, which he foresees as instrumental in his forthcoming pursuits, given the demanding schedules he encountered during his studies.
His time at SIT has stoked a heightened inquisitiveness for his prospective career path. Willie added, “I am especially inspired to continually look for ways to improve the company I work for, rather than simply doing the tasks given to me.”
His aspirations extend to a future brimming with innovation, personal growth, and a desire to impart knowledge to the next generation of engineers.
The spark of becoming an educator was ignited during his time at SIT. “I acquired knowledge about technology beyond textbooks, which has helped me see how it can be used in the real world. I want to promote this to more people, showing them that there is a purpose to studying and that the things we learn have applications in the actual world,” he explained.
The SIT Mid-Term Scholarship has played a transformative role in broadening his horizons. “It has allowed me to network with scholars from different fields and forge lasting bonds, which has helped me in my studies as I could reach out to them for assistance,” he affirmed.“SIT focuses on solving problems presented by our industry partners, and there will be a wealth of projects for those eager to expand their skills.”
This article was adapted from the BrightMinds Oct 2023 publication with the permission of CareerBuilder Singapore.