Flying high through UniSIM
Written by Victoria Barker
FOR Mr Melvinder Singh Wahla, an early interest in aviation and aerospace led to a successful career in the industry.
But it was a moment of clarity two years ago that prompted him to get more focused about his future and where he saw his career heading.
As part of the Bachelor of Engineering in Aerospace Systems programme at SIM University (UniSIM), from which he graduated in June, Mr Singh was sent to Cranfield University in Britain.
The UniSIM programme is a collaborative one with the university just outside London, and requires students to complete a five-day module there during their course of study.
The Singapore Polytechnic alumnus told My Paper: "We were learning about things like air-transport management and airport planning, modules which were very interesting.
"That's when I realised that it's not necessarily aerospace engineering that is my cup of tea, but (rather) the management side of things."
The go-getting 27-year-old, who last year left his air force job of six years to concentrate on his honours year at UniSIM, will be heading back to Cranfield in October. There, he will start his year-long post-graduate studies.
Besides its flexibility, Mr Singh was impressed by UniSIM's knowledgeable lecturers and found that he could easily apply what he was learning during lectures to his day-to-day work.
The university offers evening and weekend classes, and aims to help working professionals and adult learners upgrade by focusing on their needs.
"I would be troubleshooting with my colleagues at work, and bring out my textbooks, remembering something I had learnt...it did help with some problem-solving," he recalled.
"And, as the lecturers are industry professionals themselves, they're able to share real-life experiences, which makes learning about more than just what's in the textbooks," he added.
And, while juggling work and school proved a challenge, Mr Singh appreciated that the university provided an opportunity for "independent learning, rather than just spoon-feeding".
Similarly, Republic of Singapore Air Force engineer John Lee, who graduated from the same course in December - he was its first First Class Honours student - found the overall UniSIM learning experience "extremely enriching".
The 45-year-old father of two, who is the Officer Commanding of Logistics Flight in 145 Squadron, which operates the F-16D+ fighter jets often seen in the National Day Parade flypasts, had enrolled at the university in 2008 after coming across an advertisement in The Straits Times.
He also has an advanced diploma in aerospace engineering and management.
Mr Lee said: "The well-paced programme has content with direct industry relevance, which is up-to-date and transferrable to the workforce."
The comprehensive and holistic programme curriculum provides a systematic overview of the aerospace industry as a whole, he added.
"It has given me a deeper understanding and widened my perspective of the industry...traits which allow me to perform my job better."
The five-day overseas module at Cranfield University was one of the high points of the UniSIM experience for Mr Lee.
"It was memorable in that we actually got real-life experience beyond the academic," he explained.
"From the social perspective, I had the opportunity to visit and explore London with my peers during our free time."
While the prospect of pursuing higher education as an adult learner was daunting, Mr Lee is glad he has seen it through with UniSIM.
"New technology is replacing older (systems) and we need to acknowledge these changes and stay relevant...we need to keep learning," he said.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY SIM UNIVERSITY