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Sending the right signals

Since young, Mr Kenneth Lim has always been curious about how electrical and electronic devices work.

“I often took apart household appliances, much to my parents’ dismay, to see how the internal components connected and functioned together,” recalls Mr Lim, 30.

As he grew up, he took a greater interest in tinkering with computers and often thought about how electrical and electronic engineering could improve the buses and trains he rode daily.

This fascination led him to apply for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) Overseas Scholarship after his A Levels in Temasek Junior College .

Designing and testing
With the scholarship, Mr Lim pursued a Master of Engineering in electrical and electronic engineering with management at the Imperial College of London, United Kingdom, in 2009. He graduated with first class honours in 2013.

He is now working his dream job as a project manager for Signalling and PSD (Platform Screen Door), Rail Systems, in LTA.

He is part of the team that manages the implementation of the communication- based train control signalling system for the upcoming Thomson and Jurong Region Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines.

“The signalling system helps to drive the trains automatically. It intelligently controls and monitors the movement of trains, making optimal use of the railway infrastructure to deliver a high-capacity service that meets the highest standards of safety,” he explains.

There is never a dull moment at work, he says. “In the morning, I could be in the office reviewing design documents and drawings. In the same afternoon, I could be on site at the depot, witnessing the testing of trainborne signalling equipment.”

His most memorable moments are when he sees how his work directly shapes and improves the land transport system for everyone.

For example, he was involved in the implementation of the signalling system for the Tuas West Extension. “It brings me great pleasure to see it in operation today, enabling commuters working in the Tuas industrial areas to enjoy a shorter travel time,” he says.

Travelling and debugging
Five years into the job, Mr Lim is grateful for the wealth of learning opportunities the LTA scholarship provided.

For instance, before the commencement of his overseas studies, LTA put him through an induction programme to equip him with life skills that could be useful away from home. He was also given access to internship opportunities to gain a broad view of LTA’s busines.

His master’s programme included a management component that equipped him to take on a project management role in a technical engineering environment.

It also enabled him to experience and study the transportation system in London and other European cities, identifying aspects that could potentially be enhanced in Singapore.

“My favourite subjects were digital signal processing and control engineering, and I especially enjoyed the late-night sessions in the electronics lab debugging and building prototypes for my coursework,” recalls Mr Lim, who was also actively involved in diverse campus activities such as ballroom dancing and badminton.

What it takes
Mr Lim’s career goal now is to continue delivering high-performing signalling systems for the upcoming train lines.

To students who are interested to enter this field, his advice is: “As an engineer in LTA, you have the rare opportunity to shape the land transport system and policies, directly improving the daily commute of fellow Singaporeans.

“Delivering such large-scale, complex infrastructure projects is challenging yet highly fulfilling. So you need a positive attitude and to be prepared to work hard and learn quickly. And be open and ready to take on new roles and challenges.”