Lifelong learning pays off for engineer

NUS Engineering student Chester successfully juggled his studies with a full-time career, graduating with Honours (Highest Distinction) on 17 July

Chester Seet has been a Robotics Engineer with the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) for the past five years. Four of those years were spent juggling his full-time role at A*STAR programming industrial robots with lectures, tutorials, assignments and examinations alongside his classmates in the Bachelor of Technology (Mechanical Engineering) programme at NUS.

On 17 July, the 27-year-old’s hard work paid off, as he graduated with Honours (Highest Distinction), his parents and younger sister cheering loudly from their seats in the University Cultural Centre. 
Chester graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic with a Diploma in Digital and Precision Engineering. Upon completion of his National Service, he opted to begin working for a year with A*STAR before furthering his studies at NUS to give him a competitive edge.

“I figured that my working experience would be useful in school, which was precisely the case. I was able to immediately relate the theories learned in class with the practical experience from my work,” said Chester, explaining his decision. He is grateful to his employer for facilitating his work-study arrangements by allowing him to leave work earlier for classes upon completion of his assigned tasks.

However, he admits that the going was never easy. “I had to juggle between work, study, family and friends. With so little time for each, I had to buy time by sacrificing sleep, as well as working over the weekends and after night lectures. I also spent my annual leave preparing for examinations.”

Yet looking back, Chester knows that the sacrifice was all worth it. “The degree helped me develop critical thinking skills which is one of the most valuable skills an engineer could have since we need to innovate and solve problems every day. The knowledge gained from core and elective modules also helped me to better grasp engineering concepts, methods and procedures, which are directly applicable to my job. This degree complements my skillset, which has translated into greater and more fulfilling responsibilities in my company,” he said.

Chester is a staunch supporter of lifelong learning, and although he has no immediate plans, hopes to pursue a Master’s Degree further down the line and help propel Singapore’s engineering capabilities to greater heights, comparable to technology power houses like Germany and Japan. “The amount of knowledge out there is vast, and we have to continue learning to improve ourselves. Otherwise, we will become stagnant, lose competitiveness and eventually become obsolete,” he said.  

The amount of knowledge out there is vast, and we have to continue learning to improve ourselves. Otherwise, we will become stagnant, lose competitiveness and eventually become obsolete.

Chester also hopes to be a source of motivation for his younger siblings, proving that with hard work and tenacity, they can reach for what they want and grab it. “There were definitely times when I doubted my ability to juggle both work and school, as both were very demanding on deliverables. I will never forget those sleepless nights where I had to finish assignments, study for mid-terms and prepare for examinations, all while having to meet deadlines at my workplace. Nevertheless, I persevered and today I am proud of what I have achieved.”