Chance to design and build products that serve community

20 Mar 2021

Straits Times, 20 Mar 2021, Chance to design and build products that serve community
SINGAPORE - Mr Ashwin Venkatram was drawn to manufacturing as it offered him the chance to better serve the community by designing and building products that others use on a regular basis.

This gave purpose to the working life of the 25-year-old, who has been a hardware developer at electronics group Rohde & Schwarz since 2019.

The company has a branch in Singapore but is headquartered in Germany.

Mr Venkatram builds electronic instruments that engineers can use in their laboratories to troubleshoot and design their devices.

"What attracted me was the opportunity to do design work. I see a sense of purpose building products that better serve the community in general," the Singaporean says.

For many, manufacturing evokes the image of mechanical and repetitive work on factory floors. But roles like Mr Venkatram's provide intellectual engagement and satisfaction.

Such roles, however, are hard to come by, which may account for the lack of local talent in the industry, he says.

He hunted for a job for five months between late 2018 and 2019, at a time when he was in his final year as an electrical engineering student at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

"It was pretty difficult to get this job. I knew I definitely wanted a role in design development, which left me with a very small pool of companies I could apply to," he says.

"In Singapore, it's not as easy to find research and development roles as compared to traditional manufacturing roles where you work on the factory floor. So (graduates with the relevant skills) may look outside, to other countries."

But the sector does have a number of niche areas, where young students or graduates can contribute in innovation and improvement, he emphasises.

"Monitoring systems, robotics, data science, machine learning - it all depends on which company you join and what part of the story or chain you're at.

"It's about finding your niche, and that balance between what you want and what the industry needs."