His passion for land transport, and his belief that a job must have both purpose and impact, led Mr Jerrold Thong to take up the Land Transport Authority (LTA) Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship in 2008.
The 29-year-old says: “I am passionate about land transport and how it affects everyone in Singapore. LTA provides ample opportunities for different scopes of work, be it in rail, roads, or active mobility.”
The scholarship enabled him to pursue a Masters in Engineering with Business Finance (Mechanical) at University College London, a unique combination that helped him to develop both technical engineering knowledge and business skills.
“This has helped me to better analyse issues I encounter during my work, such as considering the cost implications of various engineering solutions.”
Even before officially joining LTA full-time, Mr Thong already had a taste of working there from his two internship stints.
His first internship was with the Rolling Stock team, where he helped with the testing and commissioning of new trains, and got to witness how new trains were delivered to the Bishan train depot.
His second, with the Intelligent Transport System Center, taught him how the expressways here are monitored to optimise traffic on the roads.
“Both internships helped me better appreciate the challenges faced by the land transport industry, and the different contributions towards a safer and reliable transport system,” says the executive engineer with LTA’s rail design development division, which is responsible for the design of the MRT rail alignment.
The team is currently working on the rail alignment for the upcoming Cross-Island Line. By creating a 3D design, they figure out how the rail line will navigate around various land constraints and the resulting depth of the stations.
“These issues are usually multidisciplinary and often require us to work with various stakeholders to achieve a well-balanced and satisfactory outcome, and a fit-for-purpose engineering design,” says Mr Thong.
He cites his work on the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 public consultation as an outstanding experience. The process of gathering feedback from the public regarding the land transport system has been “humbling”.
“I learn how to engage different stakeholders — from practising active listening to giving them the assurance that their feedback will be taken into account in the next Land Transport Master Plan. It is also very rewarding when our conversations lead them to understand the issues we sometimes face in our jobs,” he adds.
“The decisions we make for MRT rail alignment often have a lasting impact, that’s why we explore all possible options to achieve the best connectivity, compliant design and cost-effective outcome. This requires creativity and imagination at times.”