National Engineers Day (2016) and Energy Innovation Challenge (2016)

2016 was the second year for the Energy Innovation Challenge (EIC) coordinated and executed by the Institute of Engineers and Singapore Science Centre. This year on top of being a Mentor, I decided to help out the working group for National Engineers Day 2016. This year I got to mentor another team of three bright and brilliant kids from Yishun Junior College. The difference in EIC 2016 compared to EIC 2015 was that this year we had an additional non-compulsory SPRING Singapore report element.


1424458_10153663452548051_2805728808127916824_n-1Door gift (power bank) for the Energy Innovation Challenge 2016


This year, the students were working on a battery that stores energy based on chemical reactions that could be done in an isolated environment such as a deserted island. Concept was interesting and I personally learned a lot since my work mostly involves physics when compared to laboratory based chemistry. The team received a consolation prize for the effort and at the end of the day the experience garnered in such competitions values more than any monetary gift prize.


National Engineers Day 2016 exhibition and display.
Compared to the work that I had to put in as part of the working committee, mentor ship was relatively easy. Running a national level event is not an easy task but we did it successfully nevertheless.



Lets’ do it again next year if God Permits.

Experience or Paper qualification?

In a recent interaction with accomplished engineers, I was asked an interesting question. Which is more important, paper qualifications or experience? Some may choose paper qualification and others may choose experience.

20 years ago, in Singapore, a diploma was known to be considerable tertiary education and training. A diploma meant something in the 1990’s. Even with an “O”-levels education, an individual would likely be able to secure a job with decent career prospects. It’s year 2015 and even university graduates are sometimes underemployed. Setting aside the quality of the degree and training given by each university, a diploma has lost its market value over the years. So is paper qualification important? Partially yes.

The paper qualification does make an impact. But experience is still king. Take project management career for example. A person who is able to complete a small project with a value of 1 million dollars within time, budget and quality might not have the capability to complete a 100 million dollars project due to lack of experience. The paper qualifications might make it easier for him to understand what is required to lead and complete the project but without proper guidance from experienced staff, the person might not be fully equipped to complete the project. The same goes for more technical positions.

A combination of paper qualifications with proper understanding coupled with valuable experience allows the person to be more versatile when compared to a person with only paper qualification or experience. But the most important factor is in the understanding that learning is a lifelong process and something that does not stop once a person graduates with a certificate.

Sustainable design depends on ground level staff and users

indonesia chikarang roadsite innovation

The importance on sustainability have become a hot topic of concern in recent times.The focus on the overall reduction of carbon footprint and emission of greenhouse gases have become so significant that there are conferences fully dedicated to discuss these issues. Governments and major corporations around the globe are introducing measures and means to reduce wastage of energy and material resources. Energy consumption keeps rising everyday in developed and developing countries. If the energy is from a renewable source, it will not be of major concern on the emission of greenhouse gases and or global warming. Majority of the energy that is currently being consumed are generated through burning of fossil fuels. Putting aside the total power generated in a country, the question would be if the energy consumed is being utilized in a efficient manner.

So what is sustainability?

Sustainability is defined in the ASHRAE Greenguide (ASHRAE 2010), in general terms , as “providing for the present without detracting from the ability to fulfill the needs of the future,”

This book definition is however an aspiration.

In the construction of a building for example, there are multiple parties involved namely the architect and consultant whom design the building, the contractor who build it and the facilities management team who manage and maintain the facilities and most importantly the users of the said building.

  • The scope of the consultant is to design building and its related services in such manner that energy consumption is efficient. Extensive calculations and coordination work are done to ensure that the equipment chosen are energy efficient.
  • The scope of the contractor is to procure, construct, test and commission the building and its related services based on approved consultant drawings.
  • The scope of the facilities management team is to maintain the functionality and reliability of the constructed building and its related services.

Suppose everyone is doing their scope of work, the building energy consumption could still be poor. Some of the reasons are the ground support staff and the user. The following items are possible scenarios that could affect building energy consumption.

  • Opening windows and leaving doors open when air-conditioning system is turned on, thus allowing conditioned air to escape.
  • Forgetting to switch off air-conditioning system when it is not in use. (e.g. after office hours)
  • Forgetting to turn off lights when not in use.
  • Turning on centralized air-conditioning to facilitate one or two employees after official working hours.
  • Forgetting to switch off equipment’s such as personal computers after working hours.
  • Facilities management technical team switching on air-conditioning and lighting way ahead of required time of usage wasting energy.
  • Facilities management technical team bypassing energy efficiency parameter to meet user demands.

These human related factors will affect the overall energy consumption of a building. Increased energy consumption will lead to a costlier electrical bill. If each building has a user related energy wastage of 10%, at a national level, that would translate into 4-5 TWh (Tera Watt Hour) of energy every year. Educating ground staff and regular users must be a priority if we are really serious about sustainability.

Knowledge base and the sharing of educational information for free.

While I was going through some nice slides made to train those under me, I realized that it would be of benefit to share them with my readers. One of the initiatives that we should embark on is free education for those who wish to learn but unable to, due to the unavailability of resources. A country can only substantially grow when the population is well-read to a certain extent.

Transport infrastructure in Indonesia

Indonesia as a country is expanding at an accelerated manner with foreign investment. Japanese investments are pouring in, and the area Karawang where I work in has a large expatriate Japanese population. Japan is also well known for her infrastructure and efficiency. Transport infrastructure being one of the important factors of productivity is a key focus for countries that are expanding economically.

Indonesia has a long way to go when it comes to infrastructure and productivity is strongly reduced when poor transport infrastructure is in place. From personal experience, the air is much polluted due to the increasing amount of motor vehicles on the congested roads. A 10KM trip on the road which would take a few minutes in Singapore might end up as a 3 hour trip in Jakarta. That is how congested Jakarta is. Recommendations to improve the situation will require the authorities to invest on transport infrastructure. For the short term, these should be considered:-

1) Road widening projects on existing pathways to include more lanes on the expressway.
2) Introduction of dedicated pathways for motor-cycles.
3) Digitalising toll payments for Central Business District Areas and the establishment of a traffic light system.
4) Ground-work for mass rapid train network to improve commute.

It is important that Indonesia have the infrastructure to move people from one location to another as quickly as possible without delay. Without an effective public and private transport [system], people will not be able to work and attend events on time, impeding growth and productivity in the country.

If Indonesia wants further expedite economic growth, productivity would be a big pillar that needs to be scaled. Productivity is closely connected to punctuality and that is a major hurdle for Indonesia right now.

Best Regards,
Syed Mubarak Bin Subukutheen

Ghost Town Chikarang and Karawang, Indonesian Presidential Election

Almost 180 million voters, the world’s third largest democratic country. But, is the country really democratic? That is for the global nations to research and deduce. 9th July 2014 was designated as a public holiday and we were advised not to hang out too much. But then, we still had to go out for our meal for breaking the Ramadhan fast right?

We left the house a few minutes before 4pm. Voting is supposedly until 1pm. Myself and 2 other colleagues started our trip to Lippo Chikarang, supposedly one of the nicest malls near our house. Carpark was full and when we finally parked our vehicle, there was little time to do our shopping. We had to buy some drinks, crackers, cup noodles and other daily necessities. The breaking fast meal came late as the store was busy. We were glad that we had a decent sitting spot.

We went back home to put our stuff and decided to be back on the road slightly after 7pm. Road was empty, the Cafe’s were empty and so were the restaurants.

We decided to get some cakes and we were the only customers at Starbucks. A Venti double chocolate and brownies costed slightly above $7-SGD. If it was back home, it would have been double that price.

A town which is usually not crowded became almost empty on that day. This shows that people are passionate about the voting and they are hoping for a better tomorrow. Let’s see the results of the election and be an observer in the coming years.

With Love and Regards,
Syed Mubarak Bin Subukutheen