Miss Lee Si Min took up a Building & Construction Authority (BCA) Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship primarily because she wanted to be involved in real engineering work instead of being stuck behind a desk.

The 25-year-old says: “My father is an engineer by training, and he played a big role in cultivating my interest in this field.

“I am also interested in physics and curious about how things work. It was thus a natural choice for me to major in engineering at university.”

She chose the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom to do her degree in Mechanical Engineering because it allowed her to study general engineering for the first two years before deciding which branch to specialise in.

She says: “Engineering problems today are often interdisciplinary, and my two years of general engineering prepared me well for these real-life challenges.”

She also felt that the worldrenowned university would offer a conducive environment for her to explore her interests and fulfil her academic potential.

Quite at home

Being away from her family made her a more independent person.

She reminisces: “I had to learn to cook, manage my finances and take care of myself.”

The close-knit Singaporean community in the UK helped her to overcome the challenges she faced during her studies.

She adds: “The Singaporean associations there organised activities and events throughout the year.

“I found studying in the UK to be a good balance between experiencing a new culture and having a group of familiar friends from Singapore.”

Being in the UK also gave her the opportunity to travel to various parts of the world during the vacations.

Not only did the scholarship take care of many of her expenses, it also offered her opportunities to interact with her fellow scholars and future colleagues.

For four weeks in her first year, she joined BCA’s Green Mark Department and accompanied its assessors for pre- and on-site assessments.

She also worked on the Building Retrofit Energy Efficiency Financing Scheme (BREEF), which offers financing to offset the high upfront costs of energy efficiency improvement works.

Then, in her third year, she interned with the Building Engineering Group and had the opportunity to explore geotechnical engineering and learn about Singapore’s plans for underground development.

She also helped to develop a 3D model of Singapore’s underground space.

She says that such internship stints gave her a head start, and provided her with the support and network to do well in her job after graduation.

Miss Lee is now an executive manager in the green building policy department, and is actively involved in setting climate change mitigation targets and developing mitigation strategies for Singapore’s building sector.

She also attended the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015 where delegates came together to bolster business innovation and the emerging green economy.

She also participated in the launch of the unprecedented Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction.

The 25-year-old looks forward to making a mark in a field she is passionate about.