Through regulatory standards and forward planning, BCA ensures that our built environment is a safe, high quality, sustainable and friendly one, for communities to thrive in.
Singapore is a highly urbanised nation. The buildings and structures in which we live, work, and play are products of careful planning on the part of the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
As the agency under the Ministry of National Development, BCA champions the development of Singapore’s built environment and pursues the highest standards. It ensures that the development of our built environment follows safe, inclusive and sustainable paths for all members of society. In addition, it leads to the transformation of our built environment sector by cultivating a highly competent workforce and promoting the adoption of new and better technologies.
We speak to Aaron Lee, a BCA Local Undergraduate Scholar and current Executive Manager of the Planning Department about what drew him to BCA. He also tells us about his unique responsibilities at work, and how the organisation has helped to shape his personal and career development.
A Meaningful Journey
Aaron applied for the BCA Scholarship when he was a third-year student at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He recalls, ‘I had thoroughly considered all my options and decided that the public sector was a good place to start my career and give back to society. At the same time, I wanted a technical job relevant to my engineering studies.
‘BCA stood out because of its efforts in maintaining an excellent built environment for Singapore. This is something we can be proud of, but we must not take it for granted as it does not come by easily.’
The buildings in his university campus impressed upon Aaron the crucial role that BCA plays in Singapore’s development. He shares, ‘At NTU, the School of Art, Design and Media is famous for its signature sloping green roof. This was one of NTU’s first BCA Green Mark Platinum projects, a mark of distinction for environmentally-friendly buildings. Whenever I passed by the building, I would always picture Singapore with many more Green Mark buildings. I hope to contribute to BCA’s efforts in greening our built environment and making it a more sustainable one.’
As a BCA scholar, Aaron benefited from internship opportunities that equipped him with experiences – all of which helped prepare him for the working world. ‘I did my internship at A*STAR. I mainly worked on a project to design a futuristic medical dispenser for the elderly. I learnt to put into practice the theories that were taught in class, and this definitely prepared me for the working world.’
A Memorable Career
Aaron admitted that a BCA career is no walk in the park. He says candidly, ‘The learning curve was definitely steep, but with the support and experience of my colleagues, I was able to embrace the challenges that came my way.’
Aaron first joined BCA as an Executive Engineer, and his job was to ensure the safety of amusement rides regulated under the Amusement Rides Safety Act. This includes reviewing the design of new rides to ensure they comply with accepted standards before allowing them to be installed and opened to the public.
‘We also ensure that existing rides are regularly and properly maintained, such that they continue to be of high standards and remain safe for patrons. This is done through regular inspections. Some examples of rides that BCA regulates include roller coasters, ferris wheels, water slides, and even less conventional attractions like zip lines, indoor skydiving devices, and cable skis.’
Aaron’s work required him to have an in-depth understanding of the diverse engineering concepts involved in the design of the rides and be able to identify critical safety areas of each ride. He elaborates, ‘Some of the rides adopt new technologies which we have to familiarise ourselves with before we can inspect them. This poses quite a challenge because we constantly have to keep ourselves updated with the latest technologies as new rides emerge in the market. I absolutely relish the challenge because it is a huge part of what makes the job so rewarding.’
One incident, in particular, impacted Aaron on the importance of his job. ‘One month into the job, my department had to attend to a cable car incident. An empty cabin had detached itself from the suspension cable during installation, dropping by 30m or so to the ground. Fortunately, no one was injured,’ he recalls.
‘This made me realise how crucial my job is in ensuring that amusement rides are safe for the public, and also the key regulatory role that the BCA plays overall.’
A Desire to Contribute
When asked about the qualities aspiring BCA scholars should possess, Aaron says, ‘BCA officers should be firm but compassionate. They must possess the drive and initiative to constantly improve standards. Given the fast-paced world we live in today, we must never become complacent. BCA officers should always lead by example and remain at the forefront of shaping a safe, high quality, a sustainable and friendly built environment that Singapore can be proud of!’
After a year and half of working on amusement rides, Aaron moved to Strategic Planning Office and is currently working on the Industry Transformation Map, which charts the desired future of the Built Environment. While his previous portfolio required highly specialised technical expertise, his current work sees him working closely with the industry to help them overcome challenges within the sector.
‘Crafting effective policies is a great challenge and it requires strong communication and engagement skills as we have to pitch the transformation messages and conduct consultations to better understand the concerns of the industry. This gives me a deeper appreciation of the pivotal role played by the Government in facilitating transformation for the sector.’ he shared.
While the transition into the new portfolio came with its own set of challenges, Aaron appreciates the efforts BCA places in Continuing Education and Training (CET) such as on-the-job training, which equipped him with the skillsets to perform effectively and continue to make a difference to our Singapore.
He concludes, ‘I have not once regretted taking up the BCA Scholarship. BCA is a harmonious and caring family, and the support I have received from the management and the rapport I have built with my colleagues are the reasons I look forward to work every day. There are wide-ranging opportunities here at BCA – our officers are responsible for forging a greener built environment, ensuring the safety of buildings, and even boosting productivity in the construction sector. You will have the chance to leave your mark on myriad aspects of our built environment!’
AARON LEE XUAN ANG
BCA Local Undergraduate Scholarship
Attained: BEng (Electrical & Electronic Engineering) from NTU
Now: Executive Manager, Planning Department
From: Tampines JC