SINGAPORE – Since he was young, Private Mahdessh Kannan’s parents would ask him to fix broken appliances in the house instead of calling a repairman.
Impressed by his hands-on skills, his father encouraged him to enrol in an aerospace technology course at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) when he turned 17.
Though he struggled at first with the unfamiliar syllabus, he eventually hit his stride, prompting him to sign up for a new work-study programme with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) before enlisting for national service in April this year.
Announcing the two-and-a-half-year programme on Friday (Oct 22), the Ministry of Defence said it enables NSF air force technicians to gain academic recognition – a diploma in aerospace engineering – while contributing to the defence of Singapore.
Private Mahdessh, 19, is among the first batch of around 20 full-time national servicemen (NSF) who will start their first lessons with Temasek Polytechnic (TP) on Saturday, while serving with the RSAF on weekdays for academic credits that count towards the diploma.
The programme is open to NSFs with relevant aerospace-related ITE qualifications.
Participants complete two modular certificates to obtain first obtain a work-study certificate before completing three more to attain a Diploma in Engineering (Aerospace).
After obtaining the diploma, participants continue serving with the RSAF for about one year to see out their four-year contract.
Speaking to media via a virtual interview on Friday, Private Mahdessh said: “My ITE lecturer suggested I enrol in this programme because my results were good and applying for it was an easy decision for me. I am happy and excited to be part of this first batch, and I hope I can learn a lot.”
“I believe the programme will help open up a lot of opportunities in the future as well,” added the trainee air force technician with the 805 Squadron.
Director of TP’s School of Engineering Song Kwok Yuen said the programme aims to equip graduates with fundamental engineering and specialised aerospace domain knowledge.
“The rigorous curriculum will also widen the problem-solving and analytical skills of participants in their day-to-day work,” he added.
This is the second such programme by the RSAF. It collaborated with ITE for a work-study diploma in aircraft maintenance engineering which kicked off in April this year.
Military Expert 5 (ME5) John Liu, 32, a staff officer at the RSAF’sair engineering and logistics department said the programme was started following positive reviews from the earlier collaboration with ITE.
Hesaid: “We worked with the concept of learning while doing, so that participants can learn more effectively. As you learn the theory, you can apply it in the next few days at work.
“We also know that all Singaporean males have to do national service and felt this was a way to enhance the experience.”
The diploma will be useful to the participants even after they leave RSAF, ME5 Liu added.
He said: “We foresee that after leave into the aerospace industry, they will be able to quickly deploy in the industry and perhaps contribute at a senior technician level.”