Inventing the Energy Future with Youth

In Dialogue with Youth was an invaluable opportunity for senior government and industry leaders to interact with and inspire Singapore’s young energy movement! Our correspondent Chia Jin shares more.

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Dr. Tan Wu Meng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade & Industry and Foreign Affairs opened the Youth@SIEW session with two pop culture references for the audience.

He asked the youth to think about the latest Avengers movies in which the superhero Iron Man uses a suit powered by an energy source. Dr. Tan also referenced the classic television show, “Star Trek,” and its multipurpose ‘tricorder’ device. What used to be science fiction has now become science reality, he said, referring to the mobile phones of today.

“We have to imagine, to invent the future,” said Dr. Tan. He then used Singapore as an example, citing the water crisis in the 1960s when water rationing was a norm. Since then, Singapore has had to innovate to survive.

“Singapore had to become a country that innovated in water,” stated Dr. Tan, before pointing out that the production of water in NEWater plants requires energy. Thus, energy security and sustainability are equally important.

Dr. Tan added that when we invent the energy future, it will affirm our credibility when we speak to other countries.

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“Singapore needs to have better energy solutions to survive, similar to our Water Story, so that Singapore can help other countries that are similar to us, that are small and alternative-energy disadvantaged,” Dr. Tan explained.

In his speech, Dr. Tan specifically mentioned Mr. Amirul Asyraf, one of the energy industry scholarship recipients. Mr. Amirul Asyraf was inspired to pursue a career in the energy sector by his parents who are also working in the industry. Dr. Tan then took the opportunity to thank the families of the scholarship recipients who provided guidance and support.

Mr. Ted Chen, Co-founder and Chief Product Architect of EverComm Singapore, took the stage and shared how he started his energy journey through ‘hackathon’ competitions when he was still a student in 2012.

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He described that the journey was not easy, as it took him four years to win first place in the competition. Opportunities began to open up after he won, as he was then invited to Silicon Valley to observe how start-up companies function and operate.

He motivated the youth by saying that the big tech titans in Silicon Valley started no differently from any one of us. He urged the youths to look into improving the areas of energy efficiency, stating that there are still plenty of opportunities in digital technologies.

Mr. Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab, General Secretary of Union of Power and Gas Employees (UPAGE), introduced the youth to Union and UPAGE.

Union is “a sole collective body authorised to negotiate on behalf of employees for salaries, welfare and employability,” he explained, then shared a photo montage which depicted the working environment of the energy industry.

Speaking on career opportunities and progression pathways, Mr. Abdul described how he journeyed as a technical officer from generation companies to SP Group, where he looks at transmission and distribution networks.

He ended by sharing his ideas on the concept of ‘Energy Worker 4.0’ and the three skills required for it – adaptive skills, technology skills and technical skills – which the youth of today will need to be ready, relevant and resilient in the energy sector.

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In a new segment titled ‘Energy Mythbusters’, Temasek Polytechnic and ITE West students debated topics such as “Can Singapore be 100 per cent powered by solar energy in the future?” and “Power engineering professionals don't only work behind the scenes.”

Hearing these engaging debates, Dr. Tan concluded that finding meaning in work is important. He spoke about his past working experiences as a doctor in hospitals where electricity has to keep running to keep the lights and equipment on for patients.

“Keeping the lights on is not about keeping your living rooms lit, but it is a work that deals with life and death.”

         

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