I am not an engineer at heart, and I have never dreamt of becoming one. After completing my pre-U attending biology classes (also physics), I was determined to become a coroner. But family pressure coerced me to obtain a scholarship for my undergraduate studies. Thus, reluctantly, I made the decision to take up engineering studies based on the higher chances of securing a scholarship. And that is how my engineering story begun: the start of my many wonderful and perplexing firsts.
For the very first time, the boys outnumbered the girls in class by a 6 to 1 ratio. Yet for the very first time, I realized that I have so few male friends in class. I was in a co-ed school and a boy school for my pre-Us but this is the very first time that I realized that guys literally “flock” together, and it still intrigued me that the boys in the class go to class, eat, study and sleep together. This is also the very first time that I realized that boys and girls are very different. The university made the disparity more significant when the girls were allocated hostels far away from the faculty. Boarding a bus back to my hostel during my first year in university becomes a new challenge; a challenge far more superior than boarding two busses home. For the first time too, I comprehend the importance of speaking out loud, and it started with me trying my best to stop the boys from having late night classes.
But the best part of all, I realized, for the first time that I have sufficient time to travel home up to thrice weekly, for off- campus activities, meeting people and even in scoring above average grades. These activities further contributed to my many first as an engineering student in Universiti Putra Malaysia: My first time onboard an aircraft, my first time attending a conference, summer school, and as an exchange student to name a few. In a couple of years, my plain boring life had slowly been transfigured into one fraught with a myriad of adventures and all of which contributed to moulding me into an engineer.
My engineering story does not start with lines stating my passion for engineering but as it goes, it did unravel the many adventures attributed to the engineering profession, from being onboard a Cirrus SR20, to acquiring the many core engineering skills. For the very first time too, I realized that engineering is more than problem solving, and that it had actually become an integral part of my life everyday life; in generating ideas and solving issues in a structured manner. In addition, the laudable contributions of engineers in the line of disaster prevention albeit intricate and tough, but I firmly believe that the personal satisfaction gained from surmounting engineering problems definitely surpasses those of a coroner. It might be a different sensation of satisfaction, but I now yearn for more to be filled beyond these introductory pages of my engineering story; these pages of my many firsts.
Sdri. Chong Ee Lian
University Putra Malaysia