Father knows best. This adage certainly holds true for Lee Boon Yao. After all, the senior Lee was a graduate of Singapore Polytechnic (SP), has worked with the air force and now owns an engineering firm. All of his father’s experiences made Boon Yao decide from young that he wanted to take up the Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering in SP after his G.C.E ‘O’ Level examinations.
A hiccup almost ruined his plan. During secondary three at Evergreen Secondary School, Boon Yao did not do well in his studies and his grades surely would not get him to SP. He hit the panic button and told himself to buck up and not get retained. Through sheer determination, he not only improved his grades but came in second in his school’s N(A) cohort as well at the ‘N’ level examinations. Realising his potential to do well, he continued to study hard and finally gained admission into one of SP’s most competitive courses.
There was no looking back once in SP. Being enrolled in a very popular course meant he faced competition from course mates who did way better at the ‘O’ levels. He did not let this demoralise him, instead it spurred him to work even harder, eventually earning him an SP Engineering Scholarship as well as the A*STAR Science Award.
When Boon Yao came across subjects that he labelled as ‘killer modules’, he would challenge himself to understand the module so that he could help others who also had difficulty with it. Today, the Model Student Award recipient is graduating with a remarkably high level of self- motivation and self-discipline.
Getting good grades was not his sole preoccupation though. Through his three years in SP, he participated in numerous community service projects. He was the Organising Chairman for community service programmes at the Lakeside Family Centre and was the Community Service Officer for SP Red Cross Youth. He also spent one semester tutoring academically weak students in a primary school under the SP BP Mentoring Club.
Boon Yao experienced first-hand working on aircraft components during his internship with Taikoo Aircraft Engineering Company in Xiamen, China. The internship further fuelled his passion to join the aeronautical industry.
As an A*STAR Science Award recipient, Boon Yao had the chance to also intern with them. This second internship at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technologies taught him how to conduct engineering research alongside engineers and scientists.
Boon Yao has received the Nanyang Scholarship from Nanyang Technological University, and plans to continue his aeronautical engineering studies after his national service. Upon getting his degree, he hopes to work for an established engineering firm and eventually join his father’s company and expand it overseas.