Inspiring Stories

A Chartered Engineering Technologist's Training Journey at LTA: Azhar Yeo

Published by: SkillsFuture Singapore

Photo credited to Azhar Yeo and LTA.

A Cut Above The Rest

Despite not having a degree, former technician Azhar Yeo has become a Chartered Engineering Technologist accredited by IES after years of hard work and having demonstrated exceptional engineering and competency skills that put him a cut above the rest.

Azhar started his career at the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in 2014 as an Engineering Officer with a Diploma in Automation in Mechatronic Systems from Ngee Ann Polytechnic. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a Senior Assistant Engineer in 2016 and a Principal Assistant Engineer in 2017.

In 2021, Azhar’s bosses nominated him for IES’ Engineering Chartership Certification Scheme, which recognises skills in place of traditional paper qualifications. Things started happening rapidly soon after. Not only did Azhar become accredited as a Chartered Engineering Technologist by IES, he was entrusted with more work projects at LTA and was offered a full scholarship to pursue a degree at SIT. Last year, Azhar was promoted to the role of Engineer.

Today, he helps IES create assessments for the Chartership and volunteers as an assessor for the nominees. It's a way for him to pay forward, so he can help build the confidence of his peers just as the Chartership has built his. 

Photo credited to Azhar Yeo

“IES Engineering Chartership Certification Scheme recognises technical skills by those with vocational qualifications. I was in the pioneer batch sent by LTA for this initiative, which provides me with an edge over my colleagues.” For context, the Chartership assesses applicants by different tiers for different graduate holder types.

While Azhar’s life journey seems smooth sailing, it did not begin that way. In fact, he had dropped out of his first-year diploma studies before joining National Service. Something shifted inside him, and upon his NS completion, his resolve to do better was cemented; and he’s been focusing on his career progression since then.

Azhar’s favourite motto? Change is the only constant. He shares, “Don’t be afraid to learn new skills, even if you  think the skills are not relevant to you. Any skills that you learn today and tomorrow is a step towards progress.” He cites his recent course in video editing for having given him skills in creating vivid presentations that express his ideas better to his management.

Marrying Science and Innovation

Stock image


As an engineer, he often sees things in a binary manner at the expense of creativity. However, it was a desire to innovate that sparked his early interest in his current field.

A nature lover who likes hiking, he had often wondered how our forefathers used to survive, such as spending so much effort using friction from stone and wood just to create fire; now, all that’s needed is to light up a stove.

“It sparked a curiosity in me as to how I can invent things to make life easier for humankind. The science behind innovation fascinates me. Likewise, I’m intrigued by how technology has improved or destroyed lives, such as a measuring the exact height to make a chair to suit the average-sized Asian.”

Practical Solutions for Persistent Problems

SMRT staff-in-training. Photo credited to SMRT Corporation.


While commuters in Singapore take for granted that our MRTs run on time and cool us from the tropical heat, Azhar says the MRT air-con system is an example of innovative thinking and outcomes. As part of the maintenance team, he has seen the gamut of problems, one of which is how to keep the maintenance of the cooling system maintenance effective and efficient.

“In train design, one of the problems was that conventionally, the evaporator of the air-con is located on the roof of the train while the condenser is located undercarriage. Due to wear and tear, over time, the insulation degrades, causing condensation inside the train. Furthermore, MRT stations are built with ‘under platform ventilation system’ which purpose are to remove hot air emitting from the condenser unit. Having this ventilation system, add to the construction and maintenance cost.

In designing the newer trains for the Jurong Regional Line, we combined both the condenser and evaporator on the roof, allowing maintenance to be done easier, saving maintenance costs and the construction cost of the under-platform ventilation system.”

When Passion Meets the Personal

Azhar’s passion for his job is palpable. “When I was at my previous department, my work involves project commissioning and testing for upcoming MRT lines,” he explains.

“During project commissioning and testing, I would only sleep a few hours every night. Still, despite lack of sleep and stress, sometimes the systems won’t behave the way you want them to.

“It may sound corny, but when a new MRT line is opened, it warms my heart. Not only because I am someone who takes the trains daily, I know I’ve played a part in helping the Singapore commuters to get from point A to point B quickly.”


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Last updated on 03 Jan 2024