Cover Feature
Real-world Engineering
Who says engineers can't be businessmen? Dr Adrian Yeo is one who has made that switch. Today, Dr Yeo is the proud owner of a S$2 million company that is making a "green" impact and he thanks his professors for supporting him all the way, from changing his field of research to starting his company. You can start on this journey, too...

• Dr Adrian Yeo (see side story)
• Er Dr Lee Bee Wah (Member of Parliament; President of Singapore Table Tennis Association)
• Er Chong Kee Sen (Director of Engineers 9000)

Does this sound familiar? As a toddler, you enjoyed making castles out of LEGO blocks. While growing up, you loved looking at majestic skyscrapers and wondering how they were built.

Whenever there is something in the house that needs assembling, like a DIY display case or a new drawer cabinet, you eagerly offer your services, installing it instantly.

You abhor how pollution mars the environment around you and have always felt a deep connection to nature, to the extent that you often volunteer in projects to clean up your surroundings.

The School of Civil & Environmental Engineering could be your perfect match.

With the world looking to reduce its carbon footprint, being a civil or environmental engineer is one of the most hands-on ways you can help. From shaping the design and construction of green buildings that consume less energy to finding cheaper ways of producing clean drinking water, you can contribute to a sustainable future. And with Planet Earth facing an increasing number of environmental challenges like earthquakes and floods, you're needed to help pioneer ways to combat these threats. Get cracking in well-equipped laboratories and workshops such as a geotechnics lab and a hydraulics lab.

If you prefer a life on the high seas, take up a degree in maritime studies. This course will open doors for you to international shipping lines as well as global ports, giving you the chance to travel around the world, even sailing towards your dream job to be the captain of a vessel.

Adrian Yeo:

Entrepreneur for Social Causes

A trip to tsunami-hit Aceh, Indonesia, in December 2004, where he saw children lugging buckets of water from a communal well almost 2km from their homes, moved Dr Adrian Yeo into action. He invented a water filter using a simple hand pump system for the tsunami victims who did not have access to clean water.

On his return to Singapore, the PhD student made the decision to switch his field of research to water sanitation. His professors supported him, encouraging him and helping him look for funding to set up a non-governmental organisation – Water Initiative for Securing Health – that brought safe drinking water to the poor. Little wonder that Dr Yeo describes NTU as "one of the few places where professors take the time and effort to support young people, even if they are 'just students'".

Continuing his entrepreneurial calling, he started a company, Membrane Instruments and Technology, a spin-off of NTU's Singapore Membrane Technology Centre. The company markets an NTU-developed sensor that can tell when the membranes used during water purification become dirty and therefore less efficient.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed – in 2009, he was the first recipient of the Don Quixote Fund Award, bagging US$100,000 in funding, and the following year, he won PUB's Watermark Award for setting a new benchmark in his water-related endeavours.

Today, the First Class Honours civil engineering graduate has achieved commercial success – his three-year-old company was valued at S$2 million at the end of last year.