Lessons of 2020 - A Year Unlike Any Other

By Engine Room Posted 23day(s) ago Reading Time: A few minutes


2020 has been a whirlwind of a year. Whether you’ve tackled the twists and turns of online learning head-on, or took time to find your footing on unfamiliar ground with work-from-home internships, it’s safe to say that we are all ready to ride out this final wave and sail on to (hopefully) smoother waters.

But even in the fiercest of storms, there is always something to be learnt. In this end-of-year season, we took some time to speak to three of our friends in engineering to learn about their greatest lessons in a year that has been unlike any other. 

#1 Be Ready to Embrace Change

The year has been nothing if not full of changes, and learning to welcome them with open arms is Dr. Kelly Koh, Lead (Course Management) at Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering. 

Reflecting on the ups and downs of 2020, he shared, “COVID-19 has demonstrated that we need to be versatile, ready and open to changes and new norms. Our world is so dynamic and with this comes the evolution of the things around us, be it science or technology. Being able to adopt and adapt is therefore crucial for us in being able to not just survive, but thrive.”

The veteran educator further added that the secret to accepting change, particularly for us creatures of comfort, is perhaps no secret at all. “Just do it!”, he says. Replace procrastination with positivity and before you know it, the doom and gloom will surely give way to better days. 

Unsurprisingly, Dr. Kelly revealed that his goal for the new year is not quite a traditional resolution, but rather an effort to make good on 2020’s learning. He intends to continue overcoming and triumphing over changes and challenges in 2021, and encouraging all his students to do the same.   

#2 Take Nothing for Granted

For Eugene Yap, a Senior Manager in Manufacturing Design Engineering at capital equipment corporation, KLA, 2020 has been a reminder to cherish the things that we often pay little thought to. Visits to family living on the other side of town, for example, or the freedom of taking a trip overseas are some of the things he misses the most and nurtured a new-found appreciation for. 

Having been with the firm for over a decade, the year has also seen Eugene un-learning traditional work processes in place of new methods. He shared, “As you might imagine, a lot of engineering tasks require a good amount of physical interaction, where we need to see and touch the complex systems we work with. Given the pandemic, we had to rely on IT tools as a visual aid to understand operational set-ups and discuss a game plan virtually. This new process meant that we had to go through several iterations to get certain projects right, but it also helped us build deeper levels of teamwork as we strengthened skills in communication and collaboration, and further boosted our commitment toward our work and each other.” 

Looking back on his engineering journey this past year, Eugene shared that while most of the world came to a standstill, developments in engineering continued to power on. He has never been prouder to contribute to the growth of creative technologies that he hopes will serve to solve current and future challenges in Singapore and beyond.

#3 Appreciate the Little Things in Life

Echoing the thoughts of Eugene is 24-year-old Hafiz, who expressed that 2020 has taught him to grow gratitude for the simple, everyday moments. Reminiscing on canteen lunches and corridor conversations, the Mechanical Engineering student at Nanyang Technological University shared that the temporary cessation of campus life helped him realise the difference that those seemingly insignificant interactions made to dreary days. 

Soon to enter a fresh semester in his second year of study, Hafiz and his friends are looking forward to catching a safe semblance of the good old days in the new normal. In the meantime, he seeks to encourage his course mates to stay passionate about their education, which he notes to be more important now than ever. 

He said, “As an engineering student, I believe that this is a golden opportunity for us and those leading the industry to seek solutions that can help improve quality of life. The pandemic has highlighted the need for innovative fixes that engineering can drive, and I’m looking forward to one day being part of projects and lab work that turn ideas into reality.” 

What is your biggest takeaway from 2020? As you look back on a year of navigating challenges, we hope that you’ll find moments of victories that you can take with you into the new one. After all, they say that every page you turn is a lesson learnt. Cheers to the next chapter of your life.

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