Published on 18 Jun 2024

Young women engineers mentor others to help them succeed

The International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June honours the outstanding achievements of women engineers. Two NTU engineering alumnae under 40 share their career-building journey and how they contribute to the community.

By Nur Isyana Isaman and Christine Teh

When she was just six years old, Rachel Marie (MAE/2017) would spend Saturdays at her father’s car workshop, watching the mechanics at work. From there, she soon developed an interest in fixing mechanical parts. After graduating from a local polytechnic at 22 years old, she went on to work for SIA Engineering Company, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls-Royce as an aviation engineer.

But her desire to broaden her professional knowledge spurred her to enrol in NTU’s mechanical engineering degree part-time course in her mid-20s. 

For six years she juggled night classes, overnight job shifts and overseas work assignments to complete the course and graduated with a second-class honours degree in 2017.

NTU MAE alumnae Rachel Marie during convocationRachel during her NTU Convocation in 2017. 

Today, the 39-year-old works at Boeing as a Customer Instructional Systems Designer with a good understanding of the front-end and back-end aviation operations. She develops the modules, curriculum, and methodology with the Boeing learning and design team to train airline staff who operate Boeing planes. She goes on-site with airline staff to understand their pain points and help resolve technical issues.

NTU MAE alumnae Rachel Marie at workIn the past, Rachel Marie provided operational support as a Rolls-Royce Field Service Representative.

“As a female engineer in a male-dominated field, our strong suit is the willingness to improve ourselves and higher emotional intelligence. Women tend to be emotional, so use it to our advantage: trust your gut, command with respect, and rise above difficulties,” she shares.

The alumna continues to take short courses for self-development and has recently signed up for the “FlexiMasters in Professional Development & Training” course at NTU. 

Rachel said: “It is not just about getting certifications for my portfolio but being able to use them for the community by improving at my job. That is one thing that I will always encourage the younger generation.”

She is also a key member of Boeing Women Inspiring Leadership and the Women in Aviation Singapore Chapter, where she is an industry mentor to students and gives regular career guidance talks in schools.

Opening doors for others

NTU EEE alumna Jade WeeJade Wee sees her analyst role as a blend of technicality and creativity.

Another alumna who is passionate about learning and development and mentoring is Jade Wee (EEE/2016), Analytical Lead for the APAC Strategy & Operations team at Google. She has worked in the tech sector since graduating from NTU with a Bachelor of Engineering in Information Engineering and Media in 2016.

At work, she drives corporate strategy and builds scalable tooling solutions to optimise operational efficiency and generate valuable business insights.

Her leadership in developing an automated centralised solution has saved over 100 employee hours, showcasing her ability to design, build, and implement solutions that deliver tangible business results. Google recognised her achievement with multiple internal awards.

Jade actively participates in hackathons beyond her core role, applying her creativity to address real-world challenges. In 2022, her team won an internal Google hackathon, where she conceptualised and built a winning software tool to solve the hackathon problem. 

She is no stranger to hackathons. She embarked on her tech journey by winning a Samsung tech hackathon during her final year at NTU, collaborating with three female friends.

"Despite lacking a computer science background, we were driven by our passion for the social issue we aimed to address," she recalls. "The win landed us internships with Samsung and kickstarted our careers."

Despite a demanding career, the 30-year-old serves as an alumni volunteer on the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Alumni Advisory Committee.

In March, Jade led the first week-long Google hackathon for NTU undergraduates. The event offered immersive learning experiences, including on-site classes by Google volunteers on topics like machine learning, generative AI, and statistics, and dedicated mentoring sessions with Googlers to help students refine their hackathon pitches.

Another initiative she rolled out was a career talk where students were exposed to a day in the life of different Google engineers, from software to customer and user experience. 

Jade said: “NTU has been instrumental in my career journey. An NTU email led me to a hackathon, an internship opportunity, and then a graduate programme, and eventually I started my first job at Grab doing marketing analytics. I have learned that you are never 100% ready for the next step, but NTU instilled in me the confidence to collaborate, face challenges, and deliver high quality work.”

NTU EEE alumna Jade Wee with friendsJade Wee (second from right) and her friends won first prize for Samsung’s hackathon in 2015. 

NTU EEE alumna Jade Wee at Google hackathonJade (wearing red, second row, second from right) worked with her Google colleagues to host a hackathon for NTU undergraduates in 2024.

The future of engineering

Rachel firmly believes in encouraging more women to join the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields to provide diverse views.

She takes on mentoring duties in various associations to coach science stream students. She said, “I wish I had a mentor when I started, but I did not, so I became a mentor to ensure that the younger generation get the help they need to navigate through their career.”

Earlier this year, Rachel spoke at a glider building workshop for secondary school girls organised by Women in Aviation Singapore Chapter and NTU’s student-led School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Club. After the event, she connected with two MAE undergraduates who later sought her guidance for their university project.

NTU MAE alumna Rachel Marie at workshopRachel Marie (first from left) with participants during a glider building workshop at NTU. 

Jade agrees that alumni mentors are important to students. “As an alumna, I know how overwhelming it can be to navigate career choices right after graduation. That's why I believe alumni mentors are so important. We can share our experiences, showcase the diverse opportunities available, and empower our juniors to create their own fulfilling careers,” she said. 

She is excited about the future of engineering and is constantly learning to sharpen her skills. “The advancements in machine learning, particularly with generative AI, hold immense potential to revolutionise decision-making and problem-solving and will impact various industries. Personally, I am expanding my knowledge in UX engineering through the company’s learning programme. To be a good engineer, I say, embrace curiosity and view challenges as stepping stones to growth.”

NTU EEE alumna Jade Wee during convocationHappy smiles from Jade and her family to celebrate her graduation. 

Related Topics