Engineering a Digital Transformation

One professional’s journey from mechanical to software engineering

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28 October 2020 — “Endless opportunities.”

This was Roshan’s answer to our question on why a successful engineer would return to university and study a Bachelor of Technology (Software Engineer) programme. He elaborates by telling us how industries are putting more focus on hiring IT expertise, and how he sees an IT degree as a pathway to a multitude of career options.

This is why Roshan returned to the university he attained a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) from, the National University of Singapore (NUS), for a second degree – and for newfound knowledge and expertise that will expand his career opportunities.

This is Roshan’s journey from mechanical to software engineering.

Love at second sight

After graduating from NUS with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 2015, Roshan started his career at Singapore Power (SP). To optimise resources and energy distribution, SP collects data from various industries (residential, healthcare, etc.) across the country, evaluates each industry’s energy performance, then uses this data to make meaningful decisions.

Doing so through, requires this huge amount of data to be input and presented in a usable format. For Roshan’s team, this meant that coding, visualisation tools, data analysis, and other IT solutions were essential for getting the job done.

With his interest in IT piqued, Roshan moved to Starhub to take on the role of an IT Project Executive, where he noticed a distinct shift across every industry he came across. He tells us,

“At this time, I realised that across every industry, companies were moving towards computing – and needed experts who could develop solutions to improve their data analytics, security, software development, and more.”

With this realisation, Roshan made the decision to be credentialed in the field by studying for a Bachelor of Technology (Software Engineering) at NUS.

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Balancing studies, work and married life

For Roshan, the decision to take on a part-time degree was a straightforward one. As a family man with financial commitments and a mortgage to pay, Roshan wanted to continue earning a living as he upgraded his knowledge. What’s more, he enjoys his work and values the unique opportunity he has to immediately apply what he learns into the real-world – and gain valuable industry experience while doing so.

Roshan tells us about his key to juggling studies, work and married life, explaining, “A part-time degree requires a lot of commitment. Even after a day’s work in the office, you need to attend classes. Weekends? Those are for completing assignments. But if you have a genuine interest in what you’re learning, you’ll actually enjoy the time you spend in class and on assignments.”

He also highlights the importance of scheduling, saying, “Classes don’t happen every evening, so I schedule free evenings for dates with my wife. We go for dinner, shopping and relaxing strolls. She’s a professional data analyst, so she understands the value of a Bachelor of Technology degree. It definitely helps to have a supportive partner!”

The NUS touch

Roshan credits NUS for easing his transition into the course. As one of the “less experienced” students in his cohort, Roshan didn’t have the same level of real-world or theoretical knowledge as others with IT-related qualifications.

However, he shared how the curriculum offered flexibility and support that enabled him to catch up fairly quickly. Roshan also explained how his professors offered additional videos, lecture notes and consultation time – outside of class – for anyone (and especially students like him) who needed to accelerate their progress and catch up with modules.

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Early wins

Roshan is in his final year of studies, and even though he is still an undergraduate, his investment in the programme is already paying off.

At a Red Hat hackathon that Roshan competed in, participants were tasked with building an app that would monitor traffic flow in busy areas (like MRT stations and buildings) and in real-time. Despite his lack of professional experience in software development, Roshan used the knowledge he’s gained in the programme to claim a coveted second runner-up prize!

At work, Roshan is implementing what he learns in class, directly into his career as an IT Project Manager at pharmaceutical behemoth MSD Pharma. He specifically highlights how the course has deepened his understanding of key processes in real-world IT environments – like the Agile methodology of software development, scheduling, systems development life cycles (SDLC), risk management, and others.

In fact, his supervisor is even advising Roshan to further his studies to a Master’s level – especially after seeing how Roshan has been able to quickly and effectively turn “classroom knowledge” into “real-world application”.

To management level… and beyond!

What’s next for Roshan? His immediate aspiration is to move into the role of an IT Program Manager – and says that his Bachelor of Technology education has equipped him with effective management skills.

All he needs is an opportunity to put these lessons into action in a managerial role. An opportunity he is better-positioned to get after graduating from the BTech programme.

 
30 October 2020