The sky, vast as it could be – what could be better than
solving the perennial problem of traffic congestion from by looking from this
perspective? Indeed, ever since I missed a flight while travelling to the
airport, I have come to believe that everyone has probably had his unfortunate
days owing to traffic jam. Just like a flying car from a sci-fi movie, I
envision a future with autonomous travel in three-dimensional space, unbound by
the shackles of two-dimensional roads and railways of our century.
Since young, I have always been fascinated by how an airplane
was able to seemingly defy gravity and fly. This sparked my interest to adopt
aero-modelling as my hobby. I started off with small model planes to advanced
aerobatic planes and eventually drones. I feel that winglets are the most innovative
feature in an airplane. It really intrigues me how such a small and simple
device is able to counter the wingtip vortices and improve performance and
efficiency. This has made me look forward to studying the modules Aerospace
Vehicle design and Wing Design at Imperial.
In pursuit of my interest, I enrolled in the Aeronautical
Engineering in Singapore Polytechnic. At the end of three fulfilling years, I
was awarded the Singapore Technologies Aerospace Merit Award and was listed in
the Director’s Honour Roll every year for outstanding performance. I totally
enjoyed the modules and opportunities this course offered me. I especially
loved the module Fundamentals of Flight where I did a project and was tasked to
create a model plane which was stable and can fly the far. I applied various
concepts that I have learnt, such as dihedral wings, incidence angle and high
aspect ratio into a balsa wood model. From this project, I experienced first-hand
the mechanics of flight.
My strong passion for engineering brought me beyond the
shores of Singapore where I was attached to an Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and
Overhaul (MRO) company in Beijing for 6 weeks. The apprenticeship with AMECO provided
me with unique hands-on skills and experience. During my apprenticeship, I learned
how to troubleshoot, certify, inspect and service several planes including the A380,
B787 and A320. This apprenticeship was an eye-opener for me to the MRO industry,
where I realised the importance of an aircraft engineer to be able to think and
communicate clearly to solve problems.
Moreover, in my final year, I was given an outstanding
opportunity to undertake my final year project in JAMCO where my team and I
managed to obtain Technical Standard Orders approval from the Federal Aviation
Authority for a product to be used in the Boeing 787. The process involved
physical stress testing product to many specifications and also Finite Element
Modelling Analysis of the product. Besides that, my team developed an engineering
database and created a FEM training manual for JAMCO. Working with enthusiasm
and diligence, our team exceeded the expectations of our project managers. These
industrial stints with leading aerospace companies have exposed me to
state-of-art technology way beyond what was available in my institution’s
workshop. Though such exposure, I have come to realise how much the engineering
world has advanced since the time of the Wright brothers. Thoughts of the
amazing advancements in the future only serve to motivate me in continuing the
path of pursuing aeronautical engineering in university.
The sky, as vast as it could be. Indeed, aviation tomorrow
cannot be more promising with upcoming technologies like composite airframes
and electric planes. Yet, what excites me the most is the concept of fully
autonomous air travel. Picture a future where we hire drones instead of taxies
every morning; a future where traffic lights are a relic of the past; a future
unbound by the shackles of two-dimensional roads and railways of our century. Studying
aeronautical engineering at Imperial helps to further develop my knowledge and
make autonomous air travel a reality.
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