Justin Siew Wei Jin didn’t do well at his ‘O’ levels, scoring 25 points for his L1R2B2. But the former Damai Sec School student managed to get into the Diploma in Aerospace Engineering course at Temasek Polytechnic (TP) which had a cut-off-point (LAS) of 12. How did he do that? The answer lies in the Direct Poly Admission (DPA) scheme – now known as Early Admission Exercise (EAE). He shares his experience…
Understudying my mentor at Pratt & Whitney Canada
In 2009, I applied for TP’s Diploma in Aerospace Engineering (AEG) course through the Direct Poly Admission (DPA) scheme – now known as the Early Admission Exercise (EAE). And I got in.
You see, when applying through DPA, which happens in June (well before the ‘O’ level exams in Oct), you will have to go for an interview, and they will assess whether you have the passion and interest for the course that you choose. Well, of course I do. And that’s how I got in. It doesn’t matter how well (or unwell) you do at the actual ‘O’ levels, provided you meet the minimum entry requirements – which is that you cannot exceed 26 points for your L1R2B2 aggregate at the ‘O’ levels. In addition, different courses have different health requirements, such as that you must not be colour blind.
As it turned out, during my ‘O’ level period, I fell really sick and was diagnosed with an anxiety-related disorder. After the exams, I knew that I had not done well. And guess what? On the day of the ‘O’ level results, when my form teacher handed me the result slip, my world collapsed. I got 25 points for my ‘O’ levels. But thank god, I had already secured a place in the Diploma in Aerospace Engineering at TP, via the DPA earlier! And I had met the minimum requirement of at least 26 points – only just!
You may then question, why did I choose Aerospace when it is so difficult to get into an Aerospace diploma? Well, all along, my dream has been to work in the aerospace industry and I have so much passion for it. I then decided, why not try getting into AEG through the DPA? I mean, there’s nothing to lose! Also, DPA enables me to pursue my interest and secure a placing in a local polytechnic before my O-level exams and all I had to do, was achieve at least 26 points and not be colour blind.
Without the DPA, I would not even have been to be in any Aerospace diploma course, let alone TP’s reputable Aerospace courses! (By the way, the cut-off-point, now known as LAS, for AEG that year was 12!).
So I made it. After the entire matriculation process, I had to attend an 8-week Prep Programme starting in February, before joining the AEG diploma in April 2010. The Prep Programme was good as it allowed me to learn more things before the other students arrive! During the Prep Programme, we got to try out Cross- Disciplinary Subject modules too.
During the Orientation which TP organised for DPA applicants in 2010
During the second year of my AEG course, I also had the golden opportunity to go on a study trip to Germany and France, during which we visited many aerospace companies including Airbus which builds the famous A380 jumbo jet! Such study trips are a special feature of the Aerospace courses at TP; they allow us to look, see, touch, feel and experience what we learn in our textbooks, thereby bringing education to life for us.
In Germany during our study trip
As part of the Aerospace course at TP, students have to go through this Lufthansa Technical Training (LTT) module, held in campus. This might sound easy but, no! Every aerospace student will vouch that the LTT attachment was tough! We had to go through theory and practical training, and we learnt to use various equipment such as the Control Cable Rigging and Tubing Assembly mock up models. We even had to sit for a test to earn a CAAS Certificate!
After my LTT stint, I was offered the choice to be attached to an aerospace company, which I gleefully grabbed. I was attached to Pratt & Whitney Canada S.E.A on a four-month on-the-job training stint, during which I was posted to their quality department. It gave me a valuable opportunity to learn about the dynamic and ever-changing aviation field. During my internship, I also attended the WDA-WSQ “Inspection of Engine Component Parts” course which trained us employees to determine if the spare parts were serviceable or repairable. It was a tough course to say the least. But for that, I received a Certificate of Attendance upon the completion of the course.
Finally, I graduated with a Diploma in Aerospace Engineering in April 2013 with a CGPA score of 3.62. Not too bad, considering that my ‘O’ level aggregate actually did not even qualify me for a place in the diploma course! I am very grateful for the help of my lecturers in TP, for without them, I would not have been able to make it that far. And of course, if it wasn't for the DPA scheme, I would not even have got into the AEG course at all! And I won’t be able to pursue a career in the aerospace industry. My aerospace dream would have died a pre-mature death at Sec 4.
On my graduation day at TP
The best part about the DPA is that, for students who are less confident of doing well for their ‘O’ levels, you might get a chance to enter a course with a very demanding cut-off-point (LAS), despite your bad grades (like me!). It’s like a kind of “insurance” that you get before your ‘O’ levels (except that it cost nothing!) So why not?
Here’s good news for you guys – the Singapore government has opened more slots for ‘O’ level students to enter via the DPA route (now known as EAE). With effect from June 2016, the quota for students entering via this route has been raised from 7.5% to 12.5%!
Here’s wishing all Secondary 4E/5NA Students all the best in pursuing their dream course!
Note: Justin went on to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering at NTU, and aspires to be an Aircraft engineer in future.