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A clear runway for career take-off

When he was sitting for his A-level examinations years ago, Mr Benjamin Chin enjoyed studying at Changi Airport.

With its wide spaces, free Wi-Fi, good lighting, ample F&B choices and round-the-clock air-conditioning, the airport offered a great environment for students like him. Watching planes land and take off from the runway also helped him relieve stress.

It seems fitting, given the amount of time that Mr Chin spent at the airport as a student, that he ended up taking up the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship in 2012.

“I applied for the scholarship as I wanted to be a part of the aviation industry, and CAAS is where I could be exposed to different aspects of the industry while being empowered to make contributions,” he says.

Last year, he completed a fouryear direct master’s programme in Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. Upon graduation, he joined the CAAS and is now a deputy manager (Airport Development & Planning).

From young, Mr Chin has been interested by the nuts and bolts of the aviation industry. The 25-year-old is happy to be part of a team involved in the planning and design of Changi Airport’s new mega passenger terminal, Terminal 5 (T5).

“Much of my work involves analysing and evaluating plan drawings of the latest T5 designs, discussing the implications of certain key design decisions on capacity, costs, operations and security as well as developing CAAS’ feedback and assessment of the designs.

“I find my work interesting as I am privy to one of the first looks at the designs for T5, and get to think deeply about how airport design affects the passenger experience and airport operations,” he says.

Having spent long periods of time in the existing terminals, Mr Chin has come up with his own wishlist for T5: a large viewing mall for the public to watch planes, more open spaces for art and culture, a wide variety of food options as well as sports and entertainment facilities.

Education journey
While an overseas education continues to be a big draw for scholarship applicants, Mr Chin believes it is more important to have interest in the work of the organisation or agency offering the scholarship.

Mr Chin says: “Although being able to study overseas was a large draw, I believed that it was more important to have interest in the work as a scholarship would entail a long commitment to a career in the organisation.”

Scholarship perks
With the CAAS scholarship, Mr Chin immersed himself in his university experience without worrying about finances. He stretched himself academically, developed new interests and skills, as well as forged deep friendships.

While he was enrolled in Imperial College London, Mr Chin did a “year abroad” in an entirely different education system, culture and environment at the Carnegie Mellon University in the United States.

In 2015, as an undergraduate, Mr Chin underwent a compulsory 10-week internship with CAAS at the same division he is now at. As an intern, he engaged stakeholders to obtain their requirements and concerns about T5, as well as studied the potential for the usage of autonomous vehicles in T5.

Back then, his division was “trying to figure out what the future might look like, and how T5 should be planned to be ready for that”.

Now, Mr Chin’s division oversees the design process to ensure that T5 will be functional, resilient, cost-effective and future-ready.

Mr Chin says: “I appreciate the continuity between the work I was doing during my internship and my current work, as I get to see how T5 is really developing over time.”