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Powering a passion

Even as a 10-year-old, Miss Amy Goh dreamed of becoming an engineer. Instead of playing with dolls, she and her dad would build stuff together with Lego bricks or assemble model tanks and planes.

Unexpected opportunity

She followed up on her dream, studying aerospace electronics at Singapore Polytechnic. However, to further her studies, she needed financial assistance. So she searched for scholarships on the BrightSparks portal.

“A lot of engineering-related search results came up. I found that Energy Market Authority’s Undergraduate Scholarship offered a good mix of hands-on engineering work upon graduation. As I didn’t want a desk-bound job, I applied for EMA’s scholarship,” she recalls.

The selection criteria were stringent. Besides having excellent GCE A-level or Diploma (or equivalent) results, applicants need to possess outstanding records in co-curricular and other non-academic activities. The scholarship covers full tuition fees and other related fees, as well as providing a monthly allowance. A bond period of four to six years applies, depending on whether the studies are done locally or overseas.

To Miss Goh’s surprise, she was awarded the scholarship, enabling her to study electrical engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

She says: “It wasn’t difficult shifting from aerospace to electrical engineering, as it’s fundamentally still engineering. However, the transition from polytechnic to university life was challenging as I had to adjust from a hands-on approach at Singapore Polytechnic to a more theory-based curriculum at NUS.”

She is grateful to EMA for being understanding and encouraging during this transition stage. She also treasured her two-month internship in EMA with the Power System Operation Division in 2014, as this gave her an excellent opportunity to understand the nature of the work that she would be doing upon graduating.

Miss Goh says: “During my attachment, I was in the Power System Control Centre room and had the chance to observe what goes on behind the scenes. It was an eye-opener. I learned that it takes a full taskforce working 24/7 to keep the lights on for Singapore.”

Empowering work

Now an analyst at EMA, the 24-year-old graduate finds her role in energy research and development particularly meaningful.

She explains: “The work we do helps to drive R&D innovation and sustainability in the power sector. We also need to harness new and disruptive technologies that come into play in areas as diverse as smart grids, energy storage and renewables.

“For example, we are experiencing significant growth in the solar sector. But that brings about system stability issues tied to the intermittent nature of solar output. To mitigate this impact, we are working on various initiatives in energy storage, solar forecasting and micro-grids. This is being test-bedded on Pulau Ubin. Here, researchers are assessing the reliability of electricity supply within a micro-grid infrastructure using intermittent renewable sources such as solar photovoltaic technology.

“When you love what you do, it all becomes extremely exciting.”