Growing Importance for Rail Engineering

Scholarship Guide BCA Scholar Cheong Wai Yang
Cheong Wai Yang

With a lot more rail ­transport lines to be built and overhauled, Cheong Wai Yang will see more demand for his experience and technical skills.

Like all major cities with land constraints and an increasing population, public transport will be the main mode of travel. It is the most space-efficient and environmentally-sustainable option. In Singapore, rail transport infrastructure is being developed rapidly in recent years. We have opened the Downtown Line a few months ago and will have the Thomson-East Coast Line ready in 2019. In the plans are the Jurong Region Line and Cross Island Line.

Turning Point

In secondary school, Wai Yang was from the Normal (Academic) course. Through hard work, he made much progress and in 2015, he was awarded the BCA-Industry Built Environment Undergraduate Scholarship, jointly offered by Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and WSP Consultancy Pte Ltd (previously known as Parsons Brinckerhoff Pte Ltd). The scholarship allowed Wai Yang to secure employment before graduation and fund his college overseas exchange programme.

Upon graduation, Wai Yang joined WSP as a mechanical engineer on mass rapid transit projects. Working here, Wai Yang could learn from the extensive infrastructure projects that WSP has. There are many programmes here, such as the Young Engineers Development Programme for fresh graduates and Global Exchange Programme for staff to have a learning exchange with colleagues from all over the world.

WSP’s mentorship programme and open culture encourage the ­engineers to ask questions, delve into best ­solutions and have a sound understanding of existing systems. WSP uses the Building Information Modelling (BIM) which is a key technology to improve the productivity and level of integration among various disciplines and across the entire construction chain. It allows different disciplines to share a common 3D model as a reference.

Among the plethora of projects that WSP has, Wai Yang is presently involved in the design of two major projects; the Jurong Region Line and the Thomson-East Coast Line Depot. Jurong Region Line will cover ­approximately 20 km and increase the connectivity to the existing rail network for faster travel to the rest of the island. The depot project is the first in the world where three rail depots are stacked above each other to free up precious land in Singapore. With such an integration, an area of approximately 60 football fields will be released for other uses.

Tackling Challenges

As a design consultant, Wai Yang is tasked to provide workable, sustainable and efficient engineering ideas and solutions. He is working on the design of fire protection systems and hydraulic systems to pump clean water and sanitary discharges.

Wai Yang compares his job to ‘breathing life’ into immovable structural ­objects. Providing buildings with ­essential supplies such as water and electricity is like connecting the ­human body with blood vessels and the ­nervous system. Without ­mechanical and electrical engineering services, ­buildings and ­infrastructure ­developments will just be lifeless shells.

Beyond technical knowledge, Wai Yang has also developed good communication and team management skills. ­Balancing the requirements of stakeholders and the regulating authorities are common challenges that arise in his line of work. He needs these soft skills to negotiate with the different stakeholders to achieve a win-win situation for all. He has to keep an open mind and think from ­different perspectives all the time. Building a good working relationship improves the process of design and coordination which is essential for the ­project to be completed on time.

The scholarship provided by BCA and WSP has enabled Wai Yang to contribute to nation-building. He has a good career start in the built environment sector and has enhanced his problem-solving skills in complex projects. Wai Yang is thankful for the scholarship and he looks forward to using his engineering knowledge to provide innovative solutions to benefit the future communities.

BCA-WSP Built Environment Undergraduate Scholarship
Attained: BEng in Mechanical Engineering, NTU
Now: Mechanical Engineer, Infrastructure Department, WSP Consultancy
From: Serangoon JC