As a teenager, Mr Teh Ming Xuan followed his father to his “office” at project sites, and his curiosity was piqued.
“My dad impressed me with the things he could repair, design and fix,” recounted Mr Teh of his father, a construction manager. Watching this first-hand influenced him to follow in his father’s footsteps and subsequently joining the Built Environment (BE) sector.
While working in construction sites is very different from in an office, he has never been put off by it.
“I don’t mind the construction site environment and do enjoy planning and working with different trades/structural components of buildings, such as window reels and bathroom tiles,” said Mr Teh, 28, now a planning engineer at Kimly Construction.
Mr Teh carrying out quality control work at the Kimly factory.
Technological advances in the BE sector, he added, have also revamped many jobs and working environments. It has now become cleaner and more organised at worksites, an upgrade from the traditional image that these jobs used to have.
THE SCHOLARSHIP FACTOR
To get into the BE sector, Mr Teh pursued engineering for both his diploma and degree. He studied electronics, computer and communications engineering at Nanyang Polytechnic, and later, civil engineering at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).
He did well at SIT and was awarded the Building and Construction Authority’s iBuildSG Scholarship. “It has helped to relieve the financial burden of my parents,” he said of the scholarship that he received in his final year of studies.
Launched in 2010, this scholarship scheme is offered to top students pursuing full-time BE tertiary education or courses at ITE colleges. The iBuildSG Joint Scholarship and Sponsorship Scheme will be extended until 31 March 2023.
For Mr Teh, the scholarship reinforced his dream to enter the sector where he planned to be a planning engineer – a role that encompasses conceptualising and managing construction projects on-site and off-site.
“I’m more of a hands-on person. I like to see and interact with my surroundings, instead of having a deskbound job,” he said.
Mr Teh suited up at a Workplace Safety and Health course, just one facet of his all-encompassing job.
Additionally, the iBuildSG BE Formation Programme (iBEFP), an induction programme for the BE sector where he learned new technical and digital skills, has also equipped him well for the job.
His internship experience with Kimly Construction further bolstered his skills. He performed well at Kimly, and was subsequently offered the position as a planning engineer after his graduation in year 2020.
A PROGRESSIVE ENGINEER
At Kimly, which is progressive with the use of digital technologies, Mr Teh works with state-of-the-art technology to see digitalisation come to life as part of his duties that involve tendering, preparation of drawings and project scheduling.
Among the software he uses is an integrated logistics management system, which enables digital tracking of Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) modules.
Mr Teh with miniature models of 3D-printed PPVC structures. In his work, he uses an integrated logistics management system to digitally track such modules.
“It not only allows users to track the location of PPVC modules from production facilities, but also provides the status of the modules at the factory, whether it is ready to be dispatched and which modules have been installed at the site,” he said.
A construction method where free-standing volumetric Lego-like-modules are completed with internal finishes, fixtures and fittings in an off-site fabrication facility, before being delivered and installed on-site, PPVC is now a well-used technology in the BE sector.
This app is easily accessible via a computer, tablet or phone. The real-time function facilitates and streamlines whole life cycle of construction processes, benefitting the project teams, quantity surveyors and quality control teams.
Defects can be detected quicker and more efficiently. “If there're any defects, we can take a photo, and then upload it to the system immediately, where all the subcontractors and management involved in the project are able to view it,” he said.
Once a defect is registered in the system, the appropriate party can respond immediately and rectify it without delay.
Apart from that, Mr Teh is fluent in building information modelling (BIM) - Revit. The process of BIM is capable of digitally plan, design and build structures.
Mr Teh is also involved in exploring more innovative ideas at Kimly, researching into 3D-printing technologies and semi-autonomous robotic systems that could potentially help the construction sector to be less labour intensive, and efficient in the future.
A DREAM JOB
When asked for advice for job seekers who are interested in the BE sector, Mr Teh highlighted that they should consider joining mentorship programmes such as the iBEFP and internships.
“A promising career awaits those who wants to join the BE sector. They need to be exposed to what these engineering roles are at a young age so they can have the aptitude and attitude to innovate,” he said.
For those interested in his job as a planning engineer, he said they should also keep in mind that it is not a conventional role. “They must be ready to break away from repetitive tasks and solve issues in project planning, design and execution,” he said.
The most satisfying part, he shared, is successfully seeing a project through to its completion. “Nothing can replace the happiness of seeing all your plans becoming a reality,” he said.
To be part of the burgeoning BE industry, apply for BCA’s iBuildSG Scholarship and Sponsorship programmes.