Phua Shin Zert

Phua Shin Zert

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Engineers A Way Out


  • Chua Chor Teck Gold Medal

After losing a series of solar boat competitions during his time in Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan Sam Tet in Perak, Malaysia, Shin Zert began to analyse his failures. He soon realised that the winning teams were technically competent and were able to fabricate intricate mechanical parts for their entries.

While researching for ways to improve his solar boat, Shin Zert chanced upon Singapore Polytechnic(SP)’s Diploma in Mechanical Engineering (DME) course. As he read up about the course, the seeds of an engineering education were planted in his mind as he knew that SP’s DME course is the pathway to achieving his dreams of becoming an engineer. After completing his secondary school education, Shin Zert listed SP as his only polytechnic choice during the Direct Admissions Exercise application.

The first two months of his polytechnic life was filled with excitement and hope. Shin Zert made new friends and was in the process of picking up the engineering skills and knowledge that he craved for. The top of the world feeling was soon replaced with emotional grief as Shin Zert’s father was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer and had to stop working.

As a result, the family lost their sole breadwinner and Shin Zert knew that he had to be tenacious and mature to help his family cope. To ease his family’s financial situation, Shin Zert worked part-time while he was studying.

Despite his personal grief and busy work schedule, Shin Zert knew that there are others who were less fortunate. As a committee member of the International Students’ Club and a 4iCare Integration Ambassador, Shin Zert co-organised regular visits to interact and spend quality time with the elderly at nursing homes.

Studies were still a priority for Shin Zert and he scored 32 distinctions and five ‘A’s out of 37 course modules. The tenacious student also took up the Diploma-Plus Certificate in Applied Psychology in addition to his course. His efforts and attitude were recognised by his lecturer who nominated him for the role of President of the SP Student Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

As President, Shin Zert led a team of four to represent Singapore at the ASHRAE Region XIII 21st Chapter Regional Conference 2018 – Student Forum Competition in Hong Kong. Under his leadership, the team conceptualised and presented innovative engineering solutions to make buildings environmentally friendly. Their efforts clinched them the 1st runner up spot, beating eight other university entries along the way!

At SP, Shin Zert also had the unique opportunity to set the world record for the fastest ping pong ball travelled at 3000km/h using a Mechanical Accelerator Device (MAD) - his final-year project with the defence industry. The experience also reinforced Shin Zert’s aspiration to become an engineer as he realised how outstanding innovations can change the way we live and work.

Shin Zert has already been offered a spot to read Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University. In the near future, Shin Zert hopes to play a part in combating climate change by developing solutions that will reduce energy wastage.

SP Sustainability Matters