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Education is the passport to your freedom

Ezebella Binte Abdullah

My dad used to say, “Education is the passport to your freedom”, and I think this still holds true for me till today.

Taking the path less travelled

Growing up as a child, I had been always curious and fascinated by how things are made and work. As a child, instead of playing with toys according to directions in the instruction manual or on the covers of the toy packaging, my curiosity would drive me to dismantle the toys and reassemble them again. I would even take dolls apart--dismantle their heads and swap them or even cut their hair! That interest in finding out how things work grew into passion as I grew up.

My father has always been an inspiration to me. He used to work in an engineering sector and he taught me how to see things in a practical way. An opportunity to undertake design and technology as part of my elective for both my GCE ‘N’ and ‘O’ levels sparked my real interest in engineering. The exposure to practical hands-on projects, and learning about ergonomic design, the reliability and durability of materials, as well as the practical functionality of designs, helped me appreciate the impact of engineering on daily life, and how innovations make our lives more convenient. Although many do not consider engineering a woman’s career choice, I see many phenomenal women working and leading within the engineering sector.

When signing up for polytechnic (when I was in Secondary 5 in 2011), I heard about the EDB and SPRING Singapore’s National Precision Engineering Scholarship, that aims to groom talent in precision engineering with state-of-the-art technology. I decided to apply for the scholarship with the engineering course in Nanyang Polytechnic. My application was successful, and I’m glad that I’m well on the way to becoming part of an industry that’s been recognised for its role in nation-building. My course led me to an internship opportunity with Pratt & Whitney Manufacturing Singapore, an aviation engineering company for which I’ve continued working since my graduation in 2015. I’m now an Engineering Assistant and support process development and process stability in the production of a new generation of fan blades for our Geared Turbofan™ engines.

Channels of support making the dream possible

I am now working and pursuing my degree in Engineering under Coventry University with the sponsorship of my company, which has generously offered me a full scholarship, along with the support of my family.

I see education as equal, whether it’s received through a private or public institution. After some research, I found that this course offers modules more relevant to my job scope. Coventry is renowned as a research facility that knows what the industry wants and needs, and I felt it was a good fit to learn what I needed to upgrade myself.

Without the support of my boss, I would not even have considered continuing education. I am grateful to my family, especially my parents who had to make sacrifices given that my schedule has become much busier while I juggle work and school. They have all played a huge part in helping me reach my dream of becoming a product engineer, overseeing an entire production process from design to execution, or even go into the business of consultancy as a specialist in shot-peening technology. Right now, I am already an Engineering Assistant who has process ownership of a specific process within a production line in my company, and I am glad to be part of a pioneer team that is making history with new technology in the aerospace industry.

I believe education is fundamental if you want to go places. If you say you want to be somewhere, it can help you be where you want to be. Besides the strong support from my company and family, my lecturers have also given me confidence in my prospects. They are very approachable, and they don’t mind clarifying doubts about the lessons through emails on weekends, even to the extent of organising additional classes beyond the timetable. It is so encouraging to have them go the extra mile with us. Two lecturers in particular have been my tutors since polytechnic days--Edmund Chen and Lim Chin Guan, and it is so great to see that they are just as nurturing with their teaching techniques.

Onwards and upwards

Balancing work and school is tough, but to see how and what I’ve learnt at school being applied at work is truly satisfying. Simulated project planning at school, for example, covers theories I can apply at work. Career-wise, all the basic foundation modules have helped me understand process management better, especially as lecturers give additional insight beyond the textbook. My fellow course mates have a lot more experience, and the contact with people of a variety of ages and cultures has helped me learn to communicate better.

Balancing many roles – as student, employee and daughter to my elderly parents – has helped me shape my perspective about responsibility. It is inspiring to see classmates in senior roles balance their heavier workloads, while at the same time caring for their families. Time management is a real factor that influences many of my decisions now, and it’s a learning process to become more efficient. Every day is a new learning chapter, and I look forward to seeing how my journey at PSB Academy is going to make it an even more enriching experience.