What's your job about?
Nova Systems is a global professional services provider that operates in the defence, energy and utilities, communications and transportation sectors. As part of an international consortium funded by Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the Ministry of Transport, I am currently working abroad in our Singapore branch on the research and development of key systems and services to enable safe and efficient UAV operations in congested urban environments, such as high-volume package delivery operations in Singapore. In a nutshell, my primary role is to support the technical development of a specialised traffic management system used to prevent UAVs from crashing into each other during complex urban flight operations in low altitude airspace. Because the nature of my project is heavily focused on R&D, my work is fast paced and very diverse, with day-to-day tasks ranging anywhere between software development, project coordination and waking up at 4 am to conduct UAV flight trials in the heart of the Singapore CBD. The opportunity to work abroad on the forefront of innovative technologies is exciting and can be quite challenging, but for me, the chance to work and learn directly from world leaders in the aviation industry is by far the most rewarding aspect of my work.
What's your background?
I was brought up in the Guangdong province in mainland China before my family immigrated to Tasmania when I was about the age of ten. Armed with only the knowledge of the alphabets, my early school years were quite the struggle as I flunked most of my classes. Although I’ve always been fascinated by science and technology, it was not until when I participated in the F1 in Schools Challenge during high school that I discovered my passion in applied science and engineering. Since my parents had never completed their secondary education, they couldn’t provide the necessary guidance I needed to explore the engineering career path. Fortunately, my parents were supportive, and with help of my best friend I was able to relocate to Queensland to pursue university study in 2013. My keen interest in engineering quickly grew after my first year. This led me to sought out various extracurricular activities in order to broaden my skillset, including tutoring, volunteering, research scholarships, part-time work and studying abroad in Japan. However, I did miss out on many university parties and social events along the way. But my hard work eventually paid off when I completed an internship with Nova in 2017 before returning to the company in 2018 as a graduate. Since then, I’ve worked on several major projects across the defence and commercial aviation sectors. Currently, I am working abroad in Singapore while pursuing a part-time master’s degree sponsored by Nova. The tremendous support and opportunities Nova provided me so far have been invaluable and I am proud to belong in this amazing community.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes, but you need to have graduated from an accredited university with a science or engineering related degree as this is a formal prerequisite to work in the current engineering industry. Fortunately, an engineering degree is like a Swiss army knife so you don’t necessarily need to major in a particular discipline to work in the aviation sector, however a mechanical or software oriented engineering pathway would better prepare you for the more complex multidisciplinary R&D projects. If you can apply yourself to a problem with a team-oriented mindset and show the willingness to learn, you could become a great engineer.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
Other than the invaluable opportunity to work abroad in the international aviation industry so early in my professional career, the other wonderful thing about my work is undoubtably the positive and supportive company culture. There was not a single instance while working in Nova that I felt isolated and had no one to talk to. It is really cool that whenever I felt stuck on a problem, be it technical or personal, I can easily pick up the phone and chat to someone across the global while addressing them casually by their first name or nickname, even my managers!
What are the limitations of your job?
I would say the most challenge aspect of my current project is that I have to work long hours during product delivery and reporting periods, but this happens only once every few months. Similarly, I would be required to start my day early and sustain long workdays throughout the week during flight testing and demonstration periods, this can be physically demanding if one doesn’t maintain a healthy diet! To me, these challenges are probably the best aspects of my work, because not only that I get to accelerate the pace of broadening my skillset, I get to become the key person my team could count on during tough times, and this is a wonderful feeling!
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