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EG2101 – A Quiet Space for Reflection and Personal Development

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This blog post is the first of the series under NUS module EG2101 – Pathways to Engineering Leadership. As part of this module, E-Scholars will be attending sharings by various engineering professionals in a guided journey of self-reflection. At the end of the semester, this post will be updated to reflect the list of activities which I took part in.

This semester began in the strangest of ways, not just because of the COVID-19 situation, but also because I’ve been thinking about a few questions over and over again since the start of Year 1 Summer Break – What do I hope to achieve in my 3 year undergraduate candidature in NUS? What are my plans after my undergraduate studies? What are the motivating reasons behind these decisions? What do I truly want to achieve through my education, and by extension, my career? Do I have an end goal in life?

These very questions underscore the importance of reflection in my journey in NUS – I really don’t want to end up asking myself these questions right at the end of my candidature. In some sense, this was a mid-(NUS)-life crisis for me, motivating myself to determine what I truly want to achieve in NUS and beyond.

This module presents a unique opportunity for such a reflection, in which we are encouraged to iteratively decide on what to work on, then sequentially and methodically tackling each of these tasks. At this point, perhaps the most important thing for me to do is to find out more about myself, as mentioned by Prof Bernard Fong – my strengths and weaknesses, interests, and motivations. In the upcoming few weeks, I hope to learn more from individuals who have found out for themselves what their purpose is, in the context of engineering and more. Nonetheless, it is also important to recognise that I must dare to start at some point in time. Even though age should only be a number, betting on myself in my earlier years would definitely give me a longer runway.

Another important reminder by Prof Lim Soon Hock was the importance of humility. It’s been something I’ve always been struggling with (since back when I was in secondary school – I’ve once been told by a teacher that I’d be able to go a lot further had I not been so arrogant). It may be difficult to say “I don’t know” as an engineer, but there is wisdom in tapping on the collective, and at this point, my job really is to learn. I do hope to hold on to this mentality as I work my way through the various semesters in NUS, focusing on learning instead of showing for the sake of impressing others.

Lastly, this session on the Introduction to Engineering Leadership, as well as a short discussion with Prof CC Hang and Ms Rose from IEL, has also kickstarted my reflections into what sector I wish to join post-graduation. With the experiences I had in DSO (private, but government-linked), I could get a small glimpse of both worlds. Nonetheless, the world out there is much bigger than what I’ve experienced in the past, and I look forward to the various opportunities available from IEL to connect with professionals across a varied background, to expose myself to the roles and objectives of the private sector, as well as the entrepreneurship scene in Singapore.

List of activities I took part in under EG2101

  • 24 Aug: Introduction to Engineering Leadership
  • 8 Sep: Online Professional Presence
  • 21 Sep (x2): Online Networking; An Engineering Super-Spreader of Positivity
  • 24 Sep: Re-booting Tech Transfer: Driving Change from Within
  • 26 Sep: Leadership Journey: Andrew Tay
  • 10 Oct (A1 + B1): Intersections of Values, Ethics, Morals; The Big Data Perspective
  • 17 Oct (B2): A Human-Centric Approach to Technological Innovation
  • 24 Oct (B4): The Ethical Linkage between Engineering and Biomedicine
  • 31 Oct (B5 + A2): Towards an Ethical Legal Framework for Technological Innovation; Wrap-up of the Series

Additional meetings with IEL: 11 Sep (with Prof Hang and Ms Rose), 22 Oct (with Ms Rose)

I am thankful for the opportunities created by IEL and NUS E-Scholars Office under this module, and I look forward to joining many more exciting sessions in the upcoming semesters.