An Interest To Shape The Built Environment

While studying at NUS, URA sponsored Zann Tay on several overseas learning trips.

As life in junior college drew to a close, I was faced with the same question that plagued all 18-year-olds – what next? Browsing through catalogues from various universities, the diversity of degrees available was overwhelming. Though my first thought was to take up an engineering degree, I found myself doubting my choice and wondering if it would be boring. This made me evaluate my interests, and I realised how much I loved to learn about the science of things around me. My father, who is an engineer, would explain the mechanisms that drive the world around us; from the vehicles that we ride in, to the buildings that we live, work and play in. This reflection led me to decide on Civil Engineering, as I wanted to be involved in shaping the built environment.

While pursuing my degree at NUS, I went on several overseas learning journeys, thanks to the support of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). Taking up a URA scholarship gave me opportunities to discover the intangibles that shape our society, and contemplate the relationship between people and the environment.

While on a student exchange programme at the Technical University of ­Denmark, I learnt about the use of timber and masonry in Danish buildings, as well as measures are taken to restore old buildings. During my summer programmes at the University of California, Berkeley and Boston University, my urban studies and sociology classes informed me how infrastructure can divide communities (eg the freeways of Oakland), how development can benefit one party and disadvantage another (eg the ­gentrification of inner cities), as well as how the built ­environment influences the way people live.

Having garnered valuable insights and technical knowledge during my course of study, I am glad to be able to apply what I have learnt in my current role as a Civil Engineer in the Underground Works Department at URA. As the number of underground developments, such as MRT tunnels and sewage systems, in Singapore increases, there is a need to develop an Underground Master Plan for the use of subterranean spaces. Planning the use of underground space poses unique engineering challenges in terms of constructing and maintaining underground developments. I enjoy my work as it enables me to combine my engineering knowledge with the challenging yet meaningful task of planning for our future needs.

Pursuing an engineering degree with URA’s undergraduate scholarship has been a fulfilling journey for me; if you wish to shape the built environment of Singapore, take up a scholarship with URA!

Zann Tay Yu Hui
URA Scholarship
Age: 23
Now: Civil Engineer, URA
Attained: BEng (Civil Engineering), NUS
From: Raffles Institution (JC)