Interview with DES graduate, Mr BRYAN LIM WEN CHONG, awarded the LTA Scholarship

Congratulations on achieving the scholarship award by Land Transport Authority (LTA). We would like you to share your success story as our pioneer DES graduate.

The studio-based teaching you experienced was quite a new initiative in SP, designed to prepare you for self-directed learning and analysis, working in teams and make you ready to adapt quickly to the demands of industry. We are interested to hear how you felt during your three years in SP, especially compared to how your friends studying other courses felt, and sharing with us how the LTA scholarship will help you achieve your aspirations?

What were your main reasons for choosing DES instead of all the many other courses you could have taken?

DES was promoted as a multi-disciplinary course when it was first launched and I got to know about it through various media. I found that being multi-disciplined was essential in the current world and industries we live in. Understanding the importance of it, I decided to give DES a go. With DES adopting the studio-based approach, that further enticed me to enrol in this course as I felt that learning would be further enhanced with this “do and learn as you go” approach. Also knowing the demands of the industry for more system engineers and the affiliation with many renowned companies, gave me the confidence to put DES as my first choice.

How was your transition from secondary school to your first year of studio-based learning? Did you feel new freedom, anxiety, uncertainty, enthusiasm?

I was mentally prepared for the transition from secondary school to polytechnic but I did not know what to expect from the new course. At the start of DES curriculum, I was rather impressed at the way the modules were being taught. I would say myself to be a hands-on person and loved to take things apart. Because of that, I adapted easily to the studio-based learning. To me every day was a wonder to be.

Did you enjoy the class atmosphere – especially having a lab assigned almost exclusively for your class? What about the other students who chose the same new course as you?

I loved our studio! The open-concept of the studio made me open up to new friends and new ideas. Having the exclusive right to the studio made school really feel like home. We could be studying from 8 am to 5 pm daily and staying back till 10 pm to finish up our projects but it always felt like where I belong due to the familiarity. Because of this familiarity, studying never felt like a chore and ideas seemed to flow. I believed my friends felt the same way too! Its where most of our poly memories come from. From FOP to lessons to staying back late for projects, to celebrating birthdays, to installing a gaming console to having many meals in there secretly, the studio definitely feels like home.

Was the pace of learning good for you? Was it too fast or slow? Did you enjoy the freedom to study in your own way or did you wish for more lecturer guidance?

The pace of learning was rather good for me. There were fast and slow times but I managed to pull through it. The freedom of learning remove all limitations and expanded my learning horizons as I learned to not only rely on a certain pool of knowledge. The lecturers’ guidance allowed us to learn on more technical areas like math and electronics. However, the freedom to study in our own pace gave me the opportunity to research into other topics that I found interesting and because of that, I learned about the fundamentals of aerospace and many others.

A few students found the course too challenging but you managed to carry on. What kept you going? 

Friends and Lecturers. The synergy between me and my classmates made learning a fun and enriching experience. Because of that, everyday seemed to be an enjoyable one and challenging times seemed so insignificant. For the lecturers, every one of them put so much effort and thought into our learning. If there were any hiccups in our learning, they would always be there to guide and encourage us. Their thoughts and care in teaching us are what made us today.

How did you manage, having electronic, design and mechanical study taught together? Was it good to have the mix or do you think they would have been better if kept separate?

The mixtures of studies actually made it easier for me. The array of disciplines helped me to not get bored of studying and made it more interesting. It also allowed me to understand how each field interacted with one another. I do encourage the multi-disciplinary approach.

Many of the modules had more than one lecturer teaching at the same time. Was this good for you?

There are negative and positive points to this. Firstly on the negative, the different believes and ideology of each lecturer would clash at times and bring confusion to us. This brought down their credibility and we would often at times rather rely on our own. For the positive, we could see different perspectives to certain topics and ideas and that widened our views to things.

The various project groups in the two DES classes all contributed to a central theme. Did this motivate you or add more stress?

Neutral. I managed to understand how big groups come together for a bigger project.

You had a very successful internship with LTA and now they have awarded a scholarship! How did you feel at the start of the internship? Apprehensive? Excited? Well-prepared - or otherwise? 

Thank you! I was looking forward into the internship as I wanted to better understand the various job scopes for engineers. I believe that there’s only so much we can prepare for and therefore I simply went in with an open mind. Because of that I had many other opportunities come my way during my internship, from station visits to commissioning of the DTL stage 2.

How long did it take for you to feel confident in what you were doing in the company?

It took me around 2 weeks to adapt into LTA. The more knowledge I acquired as the days goes, the more confident I got. Knowledge is confidence.

Is there any advice you would like to give to our current DES students?

To the current DES students: Being in this new environment where you have to be proactive in your studies can be tough but do know that once this first hurdle is crossed, future hurdles will only seem so simple. Keep this in mind, that the most important thing in DES is to be OPEN minded. Study smart and also remember to have loads of fun! All the best in this exciting and enriching journey ahead!

Can you share with us how you overcame challenges and difficulties when first given a piece of work that you were unfamiliar with during your internship?

I would love to produce a new product/idea/concept that would impact the community and the LTA scholarship serves as a pedestal since the agency is at the forefront of Singapore’s transportation. The job rotations scheme for scholars would also mean that I will experience a variety of roles and learn much more.


Bryan Lim and his parent 

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