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.
Door 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.
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.