Thattaruparambil Manoj Gayathri 
Diploma in Engineering with Business (DEB)

Lee Kuan Yew Award

A budding engineer with a heart for green and a head for business

While the other young girls played with their dolls and cookery sets, Gayathri easily handled intricate components and circuit boards that her engineer father would bring home. He would occasionally explain more about these items to young Gayathri.  Soon, he ignited her interest in engineering.

While studying at Tanjong Katong Girls’ School (TKGS), Gayathri and her friends started a small “business” where they designed and sold pins in the shape of their school uniform.  They raised S$3,000 for the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) students.  They even presented the pins to President Mdm Halimah Yacob during the TKGS’s 65th Anniversary.  This small business venture inspired Gayathri and she realised she was also interested in entrepreneurship.

Today, the Diploma in Engineering with Business (DEB) graduand is a Singapore Polytechnic (SP) Engineering Scholar and an Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR) Science Award recipient.  Gayathri enjoyed the "Technology to Business" module tremendously, as it combines both her interests - engineering and entrepreneurship. The module required the class to create their marketable product, develop a business strategy and pitch to the judge. Focusing on tote bags, she created two prototypes. One featured a vending machine for tote bags that people could loan them, thus extending their entire life cycle, while the other involved a dashboard that manages the loan of tote bags, offering a point system where users can earn points for contributing towards sustainability.

Considering herself a “green” engineer with a heart and an engaging business communicator, Gayathri competed in numerous competitions. This included the 16th International Standards Olympiad Competition, where she led the team to win the Silver Medal among a total of 17 competitors.  Other competitions that she has participated in include the Channel News Asia (CNA) Green Plan Hackathon 2022 and Samsung Solve for Tomorrow 2022; both supported the theme of sustainability. Her internship project inspired her to participate in the CNA Green Plan Hackathon, where she pitched an idea to create similar modular and scalable hydroponics racks so that Singaporeans could grow their vegetables in their own homes, leading to a more sustainable life and a more resilient future. Gayathri and the team also received an internship opportunity with a company interested to pursue a business in sustainability for Samsung Solve for Tomorrow 2022.

During her 22-week internship with Singapore Indoor Farm Pte Ltd, Gayathri was involved in the “Urban Farming Using Embedded Solutions” project. She designed an automated indoor hydroponic rack to remotely monitor the growth of locally grown vegetables using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), integrated Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. Due to the global shortage of semiconductor chips, she quickly adapted, researched and implemented alternative hardware that was more economical and viable for their rack.  When the team was invited to present their hydroponic rack at the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA) Summit 2022, Gayathri was selected to present it to Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and the Ministry of Trade & Industry.

Aside from her academic achievements, the Lee Kuan Yew Award recipient is musically talented and skilled in Bharathanatyam, an Indian Classical dance incorporating detailed hand gestures, intricate footwork, and expressive facial movements. Gayathri started learning this art form when she was young and is now a skilled intermediate practitioner.  She performs at various temples and events such as Navaratri, a Hindu festival that lasts nine nights.

With a sense of adventure and constantly pushing herself to step out of her comfort zone to take on new challenges to stretch her abilities and grow, Gayathri has put her best foot forward in achieving her goals. She is among the few selected for the SP-NUS Collaboration Programme, a special pathway that allows students to take university modules during their diploma studies. The modules count towards Gayathri’s graduation requirements in SP and are recognised by NUS when she chooses to pursue a degree with them.

SP Sustainability Matters