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Blazing a trail forward

Growing up, Ms Vernice Toh and her mechanic father bonded over their love of finding out how everyday machines worked. It sparked her interest in electric circuits and the flow of electrons.

“I became fascinated by the invisible forces that power our lives — from lighting up our cities, to washing our clothes and cooling us down in the
heat,” Ms Toh recalls.

After completing her A levels at Raffles Institution, she decided to pursue a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on the National Environment & Water (NEW) Scholarship.

The varsity cheerleader graduated with Honours (Highest Distinction) last year, and soon began working as an electrical engineer at PUB, Singapore’s national water agency.

Making things work better
With a team of two other electrical engineers, and seven assistant engineers and technicians, Ms Toh is responsible for the maintenance, replacement and improvement of electrical equipment at Chestnut Avenue Waterworks (CAWW).

Although she joined PUB just six months ago, the 23-year-old has been involved in a number of significant projects, including the Asset Management System implemented across PUB; a Genset Modification Works project for CAWW to minimise operation downtime in the event of power grid failure; and a Real-Time Location System smart tracker trial which could help to improve workplace safety.

She will also be assisting in the implementation of floating solar panels at Upper Peirce Reservoir to supply electricity to CAWW.

Despite the engineering field being male-dominated, Ms Toh says she has yet to experience any gender discrimination. In fact, she thinks the gender ratio is gradually improving — she has noticed an increasing number of women at NTU choosing engineering as their career.

She says: “Encouraging more females to join this industry will infuse it with fresh ideas and more talent, which could help drive innovation in the long run.”

Ms Toh is also excited about the myriad engineering possibilities, such as data collection and analysis through the Internet of Things, an predictive maintenance via smart sensors.

She says: “For young engineers like me, it is our challenge to keep learning and upgrading ourselves to stay relevant.

“I hope to acquire critical skill in PUB by leveraging my seniors’ experiences to build new solutions and bring value to Singapore’s engineering workforce.”