Civil Engineering Personal Statement

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.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Civil Engineering Personal Statement

Jordan Aw is currently a second year undergraduate reading MEng in Civil Engineering at Imperial College London. This personal statement was part of his successful application to Imperial College London, University of Leeds, University of Bath, University of Southampton and University of Sheffield for Civil Engineering.

When Elon Musk caused a media firestorm in August 2013 with the announcement of the Hyperloop concept- a new mode of high speed transportation via tubes containing just a thousandth of the air pressure at sea level- I realised that we are in the middle of a revolution in the world of transportation. Space travel is no longer exclusively state-sponsored; a market is already slowly emerging for commercial space travel. Hyperloop companies are already here, and are doing public tests, each time with something new to offer. Car manufacturers project that they’ll be ready to mass-produce self-driving cars within five years. My fascination with this “revolution” eventually grew to the point where I made the conscious decision to get involved, and I decided on civil engineering.

It soon became clear to me that such a significant shift meant that current infrastructure would be insufficient. While researching this in the context of autonomous cars, I discovered the idea-and limited reality-of machine perception, the capability of a machine to understand data in the way humans understand stimuli. However, reliance on solely the computer’s ability to interpret data correctly would lead to the same problem that human drivers have: there are just too many factors to fully recognise. Would a machine be able to recognise children playing by the road, and slow down because it knows they might run onto the street? To existing software, humans just look like columns of pixels. This possible over-reliance is why I believe that we need to consider how our roads convey information to computers as well.

Growing up outside the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, I recognise that our public transport systems are lacking. Outside KL, there are no rail systems except the outdated intercity trains. However, even with KL’s comprehensive train services and buses, traffic jams still cost Malaysia RM20 billion in 2014, according to the World Bank. Intrigued by this apparent paradox, further research led me to an article by Renne, which discussed the idea of transit-oriented development (TOD) and networked livable communities. The statistics showed a clear picture of the benefits of developing a community around a comprehensive transport system, instead of the reverse, with residents of TODs spending a significantly lower percentage of their income on housing and transport. These are ideas that I am extremely interested in seeing implemented in Malaysia, with most of its cities and towns being relatively underdeveloped.

While researching California’s high-speed rail system, I was struck by the amount of controversy surrounding it. The constantly increasing costs and the revelation that the California High-Speed Rail Authority had downplayed the initial estimates came across as particularly dishonest. As public unrest increased, the political opposition to the project gained more and more traction, as evidenced by the successful lawsuit which undermined its funding. I found it similar to Malaysia’s 1MDB, a state-sponsored development company revealed to be massively corrupt. I realised that Malaysia would face the same problems and that political engagement is important.

Outside the classroom, I am Director of Community Service for my school’s Leo Club, organising visits to a local orphanage, old folks’ home, and beach clean-ups. I also participated in a 24 hour run to raise funds for charities dedicated to helping victims of human trafficking. My team raised over RM5000, the third highest amount raised for the event. I am a member of my school’s debating team and have competed in various local and national events, winning the national championships in 2016. To widen my scope, I joined my school’s press team for which I write and edit a bimonthly newsletter.

I believe the role of the civil engineer is an exciting one in a developing country like my own, and that getting a degree from a top UK university would be a major step towards fulfilling my goals.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

NTU ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship


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What’s NTU ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship?

It is a scholarship for NTU students that covers the tuition fees and allowance per academic year while your results will be assessed every semester to make sure scholars get at least 3.50 out of 5.00 of CAP (Cumulative Average Point). The scholarship works in this way: half of the tuition fees is subsidized through Tuition Grant and the scholarship will cover the rest. There is no bond to the scholarship whereas the tuition grant provided by Singapore government has 3 years bond with any Singapore registered companies. Do note that this scholarship does not cover your hostel fees, so you have to use the living allowance to pay for that.

Cool! How do I apply?

To apply for this scholarship, you would need to fill in a scholarship application form after submitting your application form to NTU. The form is used for application for other scholarships as well, such as CN Yang Scholarship, College Scholarship, Nanyang Scholarship and NTU Science and Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship during my academic year, so it’s convenient for students to apply for multiple scholarships with just one application form. It requires students to fill in their past results, academic awards, extra-curricular activities and then write an essay not more than 300 words based on one topic chosen from 3 options.

So, what did you write about?

I chose the topic about the values and beliefs I hold strongly to. In my opinion, every essay that you need to write and submit before the interview is extremely crucial. This is the chance for you to express yourself truthfully while convincing the interviewers that you deserve to be awarded the scholarship. For my case, I wrote about the turning points in life that led me to my new beliefs. Students should look for something unique in themselves and write about it, instead of those same old stories about how determined or hardworking he or she is. Therefore, I would recommend people to try out new things and explore more, not only for the sake of applying scholarships but also for your personal development!

Ok! What’s after that?

If you are shortlisted for scholarship interview, NTU will notify you via email so keep an eye on that! NTU Scholarship Section of Financial Aid Office will come to Kuala Lumpur to interview all the applicants from Malaysia. If I am not mistaken, there is only one venue for the interview. My tips for the interview:

  1. Be prepared! Do your homework on the scholarships, the university, especially the courses you applied, and also some common interview questions. (Google! Google! Google!)
  2. Relax yourself by believing in yourself. Try not to compare with others, you must know that somebody will be better than you. That’s why you should focus on your unique personality.
  3. Be confident but not too arrogant. Avoid telling the interviewers that they will be living in remorse for the rest of their lives if they don’t offer you the scholarship.
  4. Be polite to the interviewers. Never forget to smile and thank them for their time in the end! First impression is extremely important.

During my interview, I talked about myself and shared my experience of backpacking in Bangkok. I related it to myself as that is my interest. After that, since I applied for Civil Engineering, they asked me a basic physics question of calculating force acting on a block on a slope. I saw a simple chemical equation on the back of the paper though. My friend who applied for Chemical Engineering was asked to differentiate methane and methene, and guess what – methene does not even exist! Then, they asked me about my favourite building in Singapore and what’s so special about it. Of course, you don’t have to answer the question like a professional; they are just testing your critical thinking skill.

Any last advice for future applicants?

Have faith in yourself and don’t stop believing!

The author, who wishes to be anonymised, is currently an undergraduate ASEAN scholarship holder at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.