The sky, vast as it could be – what could be better thansolving the perennial problem of traffic congestion from by looking from thisperspective? Indeed, ever since I missed a flight while travelling to theairport, I have come to believe that everyone has probably had his unfortunatedays owing to traffic jam. Just like a flying car from a sci-fi movie, Ienvision a future with autonomous travel in three-dimensional space, unbound bythe shackles of two-dimensional roads and railways of our century. Since young, I have always been fascinated by how an airplanewas able to seemingly defy gravity and fly.
This sparked my interest to adoptaero-modelling as my hobby. I started off with small model planes to advancedaerobatic planes and eventually drones. I feel that winglets are the most innovativefeature in an airplane. It really intrigues me how such a small and simpledevice is able to counter the wingtip vortices and improve performance andefficiency. This has made me look forward to studying the modules AerospaceVehicle design and Wing Design at Imperial. In pursuit of my interest, I enrolled in the AeronauticalEngineering in Singapore Polytechnic.
At the end of three fulfilling years, Iwas awarded the Singapore Technologies Aerospace Merit Award and was listed inthe Director’s Honour Roll every year for outstanding performance. I totallyenjoyed the modules and opportunities this course offered me. I especiallyloved the module Fundamentals of Flight where I did a project and was tasked tocreate a model plane which was stable and can fly the far.
I applied variousconcepts that I have learnt, such as dihedral wings, incidence angle and highaspect ratio into a balsa wood model. From this project, I experienced first-handthe mechanics of flight.My strong passion for engineering brought me beyond theshores of Singapore where I was attached to an Aircraft Maintenance, Repair andOverhaul (MRO) company in Beijing for 6 weeks. The apprenticeship with AMECO providedme with unique hands-on skills and experience. During my apprenticeship, I learnedhow 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 andcommunicate clearly to solve problems.Moreover, in my final year, I was given an outstandingopportunity to undertake my final year project in JAMCO where my team and Imanaged to obtain Technical Standard Orders approval from the Federal AviationAuthority for a product to be used in the Boeing 787.
The process involvedphysical stress testing product to many specifications and also Finite ElementModelling Analysis of the product. Besides that, my team developed an engineeringdatabase and created a FEM training manual for JAMCO. Working with enthusiasmand diligence, our team exceeded the expectations of our project managers. Theseindustrial stints with leading aerospace companies have exposed me tostate-of-art technology way beyond what was available in my institution’sworkshop. Though such exposure, I have come to realise how much the engineeringworld has advanced since the time of the Wright brothers. Thoughts of theamazing advancements in the future only serve to motivate me in continuing thepath of pursuing aeronautical engineering in university.The sky, as vast as it could be. Indeed, aviation tomorrowcannot be more promising with upcoming technologies like composite airframesand electric planes.
Yet, what excites me the most is the concept of fullyautonomous air travel. Picture a future where we hire drones instead of taxiesevery morning; a future where traffic lights are a relic of the past; a futureunbound by the shackles of two-dimensional roads and railways of our century. Studyingaeronautical engineering at Imperial helps to further develop my knowledge andmake autonomous air travel a reality.