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The Material Boy: From Intern to Full-Time Employee

“To me, the challenge of working with many unknowns is what stretches my mind and makes research more meaningful.”

- Tan Xinghe, Principal Engineer, Material & Special Processes

Some say that securing an internship is winning half the battle of attaining a full-time gig.

What convinced Xinghe to join ST Engineering full-time after his internship was the hands-on experiences and the passion for engineering, which makes up a large part of our company culture. He knew that the role would provide the right platform for him to pursue his passion!

Q: Materials research is a field that is specialised and unique. Why did you choose to focus on this field?

I was studying material science during my university days. Knowing that materials are the building blocks to most things in life, the study of materials ignited a strong passion in me to develop something meaningful and impactful. With that, I decided to delve deeper into the fundamentals of material development.

I joined ST Engineering in 2011 through the Industrial Postgraduate Programme (IPP) to deepen my knowledge, skills and expertise for research and development. The programme allows me to pursue a PhD, which is very useful in my engineering research career here!

Q: Share with us the project that you are proud of in your area of research!

I think that would be the recent collaboration with colleagues from the Commercial Aerospace business area to prototype and debut a new long-haul economy class seat concept at the Singapore Airshow in 2020.

Using the lightweight flame-resistant magnesium alloy that my team and I have developed through research and development, we were able to create aircraft seat components that weigh 30% less than the regular aluminium seat structure. This contributes to a lighter aircraft seat that will help airline operators lower fuel consumption and operating cost, as well as reducing their carbon footprint for every flight.

Visitors at the Singapore Airshow were generally very impressed by how much lighter the magnesium alloy component feels when held in their hands compared to the traditional aluminium sample, and they understood that this is part of ST Engineering drive and efforts towards providing engineering solutions that promote sustainability.

Through this project, I see a strong potential for our research to scale up for other applications, and this is what excites me and keep me motivated at work.

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