Tan Wei Hoe is currently a second year undergraduate reading MEng Civil Engineering at Imperial College London. This personal statement was part of his successful application to Imperial College London, University of Edinburgh, University of Manchester and University of Bath for Civil Engineering.
Many a times I’ve asked myself, “What is my passion?” and many a times I could not muster an answer. Though, I’ve always loved to play Lego. I would indulge myself for hours in it. As I grew older, my perspective towards the world changed. Curiosity led me to a construction site near my house. How structural elements were pieced and combined to produce spectacular structures deeply related to my time playing Lego. It was then and there that I knew, Civil Engineering was, is and will be my passion!
Fascinated by how natural resources can sustain humanity, I’ve led many construction projects in Scouting. The remarkable achievement to me was the construction of a 12 foot tall two-tower archway. Taking into account structural stability and material suitability, the archway had to support the weight of pupils as they walked across it. This particular aspect required me to do independent research on Structural Analysis. How does loads affect the equilibrium of the structure? How will the structure be built based on soil strata? This allowed me to apply concepts in physics and mathematics which I’ve only learned theoretically. Finding practical application to abstract concepts gave me a sense of satisfaction which strengthened my zeal for Civil Engineering.
3D Printing Construction, I believe, is the future of Civil Engineering. Envision a world where we can just ‘print’ buildings into life. Like the ink in our printers, we need only input a certain quantity of building materials. This can drastically reduce cost and material wastage. However, to achieve such advancements, I believe that priority in research must be given to two key fields, namely Robotics Engineering and Materials Engineering. Intelligent systems capable of interpreting abstract blueprints and translating them into concrete elements complemented with flexible ink-like material which can be moulded to mimic materials such as steel and concrete. As companies such as Dutch company MX3D have already made headway in research, I strive to be one of the pioneers of 3D Printing Construction for the future of Civil Engineering.
My work attachment for a day to a power plant opened a new world of perspective for me. I witnessed how different fields of engineering complemented one another. As it was located in an oil palm plantation, Civil Engineers were responsible for laying the foundations of oil mills and power plants. Chemical Engineers then devised methods to produce biogas from the biomass harvested. The biogas is then combusted to produce mechanical energy to turn the turbines. As electricity is produced, Electrical Engineers plans and builds the necessary electrical framework for distribution. My personal experience taught me that to achieve a sustainable world, we must unify the fields of engineering.
My involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and winning the Gold medal in 2016 has developed my confidence and understanding of my potentials. My first taste of entrepreneurship came when I founded SEALS, the abbreviation for Sea, Air and Land Survival in Taylor’s College. This, together with my journey towards the King’s Scout award, sharpened my leadership and organisational skills. Knowing of the importance of Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics, I have participated in the National Olympiad Challenge in Mathematics and Chemistry. The Olympiad challenge provided me with accelerated learning complemented with critical thinking skills. As for Physics, I’ve managed to build a LED display board with a group of friends for the Engineers’ Club. The process was exhilarating as we planned and built the electrical circuits from scratch. I realised that through teamwork, anything is possible.
He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. In the wise words of Friedrich Nietzsche, I hope to take my first steps into Civil Engineering in one of the most esteemed universities in the United Kingdom.
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