Solving Rubik’s Cubes and Electrical Conundrums is All in a Day’s Work
4 May 2022 — For 26-year-old Ng Shu Zhe, life is box of fascinating puzzles. Whether it is deciphering Rubik’s Cubes in astonishingly quick times, or finding out why certain electronics have failed quality control checks, which is one of his responsibilities at his job, Shu Zhe relishes the challenge.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) Bachelor of Technology (BTech) Electronics Engineering student loves solving puzzles and engaging in creative endeavours. A Test Engineer by day, he is an e-commerce entrepreneur and student by night. Dividing his time between a full-time career, an online store selling Rubik’s Cubes across the globe to speedcubers (enthusiasts who compete to solve Rubik’s Cubes in the fastest times possible) and university means Shu Zhe has little time for relaxing, but it is what he is happy doing.
The self-confessed video game and speedcubing addict tells us: “I used to play until midnight, so having a busy schedule is good for me. Since enrolling in the NUS BTech Electronics Engineering degree programme, I have developed much better time management skills and discipline.”
He adds: “It is better for my finances too, as I am able to make money while I am studying, to lighten the financial load on my parents.”
Riding on a scholarship, working off a bond
Originally from Malaysia, Shu Zhe came to Singapore to attend polytechnic on a scholarship offered by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). After graduating with a Diploma in Digital and Precision Engineering from Nanyang Polytechnic, Shu Zhe started serving his five-year bond, a condition of his scholarship that mandated he take on full-time employment in Singapore for at least five years.
As the ambitious young man aspired to (in his words) "attain a degree by the age of 25”, he looked for a reputable part-time degree that he could pursue while working. This would allow him to further his expertise in electronics—a field that strongly aligned with his affinity towards computers, microchips, problem-solving and creative endeavours.
To be able to take home a full-time salary while studying added to the appeal of the part-time BTech degree programme from NUS.
Strong support structures at work and in the University
Balancing work and studies can be challenging, so Shu Zhe is deeply appreciative of the support he receives from his workplace and the University.
He explains that his company feels it is important for employees like him to have work-life balance. In fact, his boss encourages professional development in various ways, like giving him 30-minute study breaks prior to exams and allowing him to leave early on examination days.
Shu Zhe also appreciates how his lecturers at NUS are always willing to lend a helping hand, whether students ask study- or work-related questions. “Our lecturers are industry professionals themselves and it shows,” he says. “I have seen classmates ask for advice on topics that we did not cover in class—but which are important to them in their full-time jobs—and the lecturers always offered sound guidance.”
As for Shu Zhe’s favourite part of NUS? It is the online library, hands down. “The NUS library portal contains a comprehensive catalogue of resources and is very useful,” he says, adding: “In my line of work, I need to constantly research articles, so I can write procedures and set standards based on suitable references. The NUS library has everything I need, and more!”
In addition to being a comprehensive resource for work, Shu Zhe says that the library is his go-to place to prepare for examinations. “You can get all the past-year papers from the library, which is very helpful before examinations.”
Getting creative with laboratory work
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Rubik’s Cube aficionado thinks that laboratory work is the best part of the BTech programme. He explains: “Technical laboratories are where you can truly express your creativity.”
He excitedly shares how students have the option to showcase their work either by “following the guidelines” or “doing whatever you want, within the scope of study”. He says that seeing what some classmates could do with electronic boards was inspiring, as they used their newfound expertise in electronics to create commercially viable products that wowed everyone in the laboratory.
Growing across borders (and continents)
Shu Zhe has already crossed one border—the causeway, to be specific—in his pursuit of educational development. He has completed his final year project and is just months away from officially receiving his degree. He has also recently been picked by his company for further professional development—this time, to attend a one-month ACCP certification course in the US.
It appears that even after he completes his four-year NUS BTech Electronics Engineering programme, Shu Zhe will not be getting much rest. With his career taking flight, and his e-commerce store continuing to draw the interest of speedcubers worldwide, Shu Zhe has a blazing future ahead of him—and we cannot wait to see where he goes from here!