An Amazing Journey

Modelled after the popular TV series “Amazing Race”, in which contesting teams race to specific check points to perform assigned tasks as quickly as possible, the “Amazing Aviators Race”, organised by the Association of Aerospace Industries Singapore on 5 Sep 2015, proved equally exciting. Four students from our Diploma in Aerospace Engineering (AEG) decided to form a team and take part. One of them, Matthew Lim, shares his experience.

Matthew (third) and his amazing team, with their prize

It all happened on 5 Sep 2015, when I arrived at Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD), fresh and ready. I felt so enthusiastic and excited as it was my first such competition after all. I did not know what to expect and felt nervous kind of at the same time.

My team comprised of AEG students. We were supposed to be there at 7.30am but by reporting time, only Aiman and I were there. No sign of our other 2 team mates, Kevin and Terence. As the clock ticked by, Aiman and got worried. We were so afraid that they overslept or something had happened to them. Would we be disqualified with 2 members short? We queued to register, nevertheless. Just as our turn was nearing, we saw the figures of Kevin and Terence in the distance – finally! I was hoping such heart stopping drama would be the only one for the day, but alas, little did I know then what was in store for us.

Our lecturers, Mdm Sue Siew Chai and Ms Koh Poh Tee, were there that morning to support us and our 2 other AEG teams – an encouragement which was greatly appreciated. I was really stressed as I am the competitive type of person. I felt the pressure of wanting to outdo the rest. I wanted my team to emerge as the top not only among our TP teams taking part, but to be champion of the entire competition!

The Amazing Aviators Race consisted of five stations, with the locations being Changi Airport, Gardens by the Bay, the new Sports Hub, Seletar Airport, and the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD). At each station, we had 20 minutes to complete our task. If a team finished its task in less than 20 minutes, bonus points would be awarded according to how much time was left on the clock.

There was also a race booklet containing the questions that tested the teams’ knowledge of Singapore and the Aviation industry. This answers we gave in the race booklet would come into play should there be a tie. My team resolved not to leave anything to chance, so we were determined to score full marks for this booklet. After all, we had lots of time travelling between stations to answer the questions.

The race started at 8.45am. The first task was to unlock a code to inform us of where our first station would be. I have to admit: we didn’t start off well. We only managed to crack the code after a while, and then also, with some help from the other teams. So off we went!

Our first station was Changi Airport. There, teams had to be split into two groups; one group had to locate a mystery person walking around Terminal 2 and pass him a code to get an answer, while the other group had to solve a crossword puzzle with an aid of some materials.

Our team mistakenly thought that we needed to solve the crossword puzzle before we could start looking for the mystery person, when actually we could have done both simultaneously! We spent a good 13 minutes trying to crack the code before we realised this! So off we went hunting for the mystery guy. It was really tough! I had to crack my brains wondering who the mystery guy was! There were so many passengers and the airport was so huge! We went around like lost souls making a fool of ourselves.

It was a great recovery and in the end we managed to finish this station with just 2 minutes to spare! I heaved a sigh of relief! I hope we’d do better at our next station!

The next station was Gardens by the Bay, a scenic place located in downtown Marina Bay. I was assigned to colour a particular template. While waiting, I decided to help another contestant to colour his template. To my surprise, he returned that favour to me when it was my turn, even though he could have zoomed off to the next station! The simple act of mutual kindness boosted our morale; I was touched by his generous gesture. So you see, sportsmanship is very important during a competition, and kindness pays (well, sometimes, at least!)

At the next station, the Sports Hub, teams were supposed to complete 4 mini traditional games. We completed the tasks and were out of there in just 2 minutes, a great morale booster. Was this luck or skills, I ask? It must have been those long hours I spent as a kid playing those games during my school carnivals – the skill I had cultivated today pays dividends! Also, I must thank my team mates for being so sporting!

It was a long train ride on the way to our next station, Seletar Airport and it surely didn’t help that some of the team members had not had a proper meal since morning. It was 1pm, the weather was making the team sleepy and I was pretty sure that many thoughts going through each of our minds on whether we had any chance of winning. We felt like giving up as we were very exhausted and hungry. We wanted to just get home and take a hot shower, have lunch and nap! But I realised that having come so far, the only way is forward! So I rallied my team mates and urged them to focus on the positives and what lies ahead. I told them, half jokingly, that even if we don’t win, we would get SEAL points but if we did not finish the race, then we end up with totally nothing!

At Seletar Airport, we were given a tour of the facilities surrounding the Seletar Airport and a map of all the facilities. We also watched a video containing fact about the area and were then given questions testing our newly learnt knowledge. Again, we felt that this was done in average time. Nevertheless, we moved forward.

At the fifth station, which also happened to be the finishing line, we had to pilot a drone though some obstacles and land it in a designated area. We all were very excited for this station! We have actually tried this during our lab sessions, yet we were not that professional. Thinking that it was quite an easy task, when we had our hands on it, we felt that it was actually quite tough! We had to balance and control the speed and take into account the wind at the same time! If the drone was blown off course, it may crash and we might even lose or get disqualified. But we managed to complete the task in good time, thanks to the prior practice that we had in school!

Finally, it was all over. We sat down to have a late lunch and rest our aching bodies. We were happy and very relieved to end the day. We were actually not expecting any good results as we were rather slow, especially at the first station.

Awaiting the final results at the finishing point

An hour later, the results were announced. Would you believe it, we won first place! Our team was overwhelmed and overjoyed.

I feel that this experience has made me understand the meaning of “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. Things may not seem good on the surface, but it may eventually lead to good results! It also allowed me to explore and discover how far we could push our limits if only we tried. Also, I have to thank my team mates and lecturers for being so sporting and supportive. My teams mate did not give up even though they were tired, hungry and disappointed. I felt that this whole experience was worthwhile and it go down as one of my most memorable experiences at TP.

The three AEG teams with their medals of participation


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