Name: Max Xu Mingfeng
Year Awarded Scholarship: 2009
Scholarship Scheme: BCA Local Scholarship
Undergraduate University: National University of Singapore
Undergraduate Course: B.Eng. (Mechanical Engineering) Specialization in Aeronautical Engineering (Minor in Business)
1. What sparked your interest in the BCA Undergraduate Scholarship and the Public Service?
I like to understand how things work and think of solutions to make them work better. This fueled my passion and inclination to become an engineer. I also like to help the people around me when I can. It makes me really happy when people approach me for help and I can solve their problems.
The beauty and strength of this scholarship is that it was one of the few back then to offer a mid-term option. In 2009, I was already in my third year at NUS when I applied for this mid-term scholarship. The scholarship covered the tuition fees for all my previous years of studies, and also covered the full tuition and hostel and overseas summer exchange fees for my final year.
More importantly, I realised that by taking up this scholarship, I am able to contribute towards Singapore and the built environment sector through my work in BCA. People spend most of their time in buildings, and I feel my contribution is a really great way to help improve lives directly.
2. What are your responsibilities at work? Have there been surprises along the way - an unexpected observation, an epiphany, or a defining moment? What do you enjoy most about your job? What is the most fulfilling part of it?
I am now in the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Department, specialising in lift and escalator safety. On most days, I would spend half a day ensuring that lifts are maintained in accordance to the standards and regulations through inspections. During the inspections, I would check safety critical components up close within the lift shaft, in the lift pit and in the motor room. Back in the office later, I would do up the assessment reports. I would also manage feedback from the public on matters relating to lifts and escalators. I would have to verify if the feedback involves safety critical issues through further research and investigation and arrange for inspections where required. I am fortunate to be in a department where I have many colleagues who are very experienced and would not hesitate to share their wisdom.
My buddy and I were at a HDB lift lobby on the ground floor during one of my lift inspections. We were attired in BCA red polo shirt and jeans, waiting for the lift contractor to put one of the two available lifts into inspection mode.
One elderly man approached the lobby, observed the preparation for a while, and turned to look at me. He then gave us an appreciative smile. I smiled back at him, in my silent thanks to him for being patient with us during the inspection. While his gesture might have been small and silent, it made the work I did more worthwhile
3. What are some of the challenges you have faced at work and how have you overcome them?
One of the greatest challenges of handling public feedback would be to explain that lift breakdowns or mantraps may not always mean that a lift or escalator is unsafe. For example, when a lift detects that a piece of debris is stuck between the lift doors, its safety devices may be activated, which immobilises the lift for passenger safety. To that end, we are also stepping up efforts to get the public to be more aware and educated on the proper and safe use of lifts and escalators
4. What advice would you give to someone considering whether to apply for a BCA Undergraduate Scholarship?
It is really important to acquire the thirst for knowledge. Learn from experienced colleagues, from mentors and from people around you, and never be afraid to ask them for their opinions. For me, in spite of all that I have gone through over the 7 years, I know that I have so much more to learn.