Pursuing a STEM Education and Career

Dr Charles Ong, Dean of PSB Academy, gives advice on how fresh graduates and young professionals can enter STEM industries.
Sarah Si
Sarah Si
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With a strong belief in PSB Academy’s mission, vision and core values, Dr Charles Ong has continuously pushed PSB Academy to deliver high-quality education to students, and varied upskilling opportunities for young professionals. Due to his efforts, PSB Academy realised a high percentage of successful employment among graduates in the Private Education Institution Graduate Employment Survey 2020/2021.

Another achievement under Dr Ong’s belt is the opening of PSB Academy’s STEM Wing in late 2022. The campaign includes the expansion of the STEM courses and curriculum offered, and also creates more opportunities for its students and faculty to engage in cutting-edge research and development, as well as develop the skills and knowledge needed.

What are some main reasons behind PSB Academy's decision to create a STEM Wing?

The decision to have a STEM Wing is driven by several factors, including the growing demand for STEM-related skills, the economic growth in STEM-related fields, increasing interest in STEM education, innovation and research opportunities and partnerships with industry.

As the world becomes increasingly digitalised and technology-driven, there’s a growing demand for workers with skills in STEM. PSB Academy aims to position itself as a leader in STEM education, and meet this demand by expanding its offerings in these areas.

The dedicated STEM Wing provides students with access to cutting-edge facilities and technology to support their learning and creates more opportunities for its students and faculty to develop the skills and knowledge needed.

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The entrance to PSB Academy's newly-opened STEM Wing

Can you highlight the best feature of PSB Academy's STEM Wing?

One of its best features is the industry-relevant facilities and cutting-edge technology available to students. The STEM Wing boasts fully-equipped laboratories, modern classrooms and collaborative learning spaces that provide students with hands-on.

There’s also a team of experienced faculty members who are experts in their respective fields. They provide personalised attention to students and are committed to providing them with the best possible learning experience. A range of innovative teaching methods is also available, including project-based learning, flipped classroom models and experiential learning opportunities.

In addition, the STEM Wing offers a wide range of programmes that are designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their chosen careers. The curriculum is updated regularly to keep up with the latest developments in the field, ensuring that students are well-prepared for the ever-changing job market.

What are some STEM-related courses PSB Academy offers to both students and young professionals?

Courses are available to both students and young professionals. Some of these include Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science, Bachelor of Science with Honours in Computing Science, Master of Science in Data Science and Master of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics.

Moreover, PSB Academy also offers part-time courses, short courses and skills-based training programmes specially designed to help individuals acquire industry-relevant skills and knowledge in areas such as data analytics, cloud computing, the life sciences, and more.

PSB Campus_Concourse

The concourse 

What knowledge and skills do these courses aim to impart to students, both fresh graduates and young professionals? 

Although some knowledge and skills imparted depend on a student’s specific course, PSB Academy nevertheless aims to provide students with a strong foundation of theoretical knowledge and practical skills relevant to their chosen field. Graduates will be able to apply their learning in a real-world setting through creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills all developed at PSB Academy.

In your opinion, what are some of the necessary skills, expertise and attributes fresh graduates and young professionals need in order to smoothly transition to the STEM industry?

There are several key skills, expertise and attributes needed. These include:

  • Strong technical skills: Due to the technical nature of STEM-related fields, it’s essential for professionals to possess a strong foundation in areas such as coding, data analysis and math.
  • Ability to learn and adapt: The STEM industry is constantly evolving, and professionals must be able to keep up with the latest developments and stay ahead of the curve.
  • Problem-solving skills: STEM professionals must be able to identify problems, analyse data and develop effective solutions. They also need to be able to approach problems with a creative and analytical mindset.
  • Communication skills: Effective communication is crucial in any industry, and STEM is no exception. Professionals need to be able to communicate complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner, both verbally and in writing.
  • Collaborative mindset: The STEM industry often requires professionals to work in teams, so this is essential. They must be able to work effectively with others, share ideas and contribute to a positive team dynamic.
  • Strong work ethic: Working in STEM can be demanding, so a strong work ethic and a willingness to put in the effort to achieve success is a must.

PSB Campus_Sports Science Lab

The Sports Science Lab

How does PSB Academy's STEM Wing help them build these skills, expertise and attributes?

Through its rigorous programmes, PSB Academy is able to build the practical experience and theoretical knowledge required to excel.

Moreover, the STEM Wing also provides students with access to cutting-edge facilities, including specialised labs and equipment, as well as opportunities for research and internships. Students are also given opportunities to work on real-world projects, and to gain valuable hands-on experience essential to building a successful career in STEM. These factors create a learning environment that is both supportive and challenging.

The faculty at PSB Academy’s STEM Wing are also experts in their respective fields, and bring a wealth of industry experience to the classroom.

What are some challenges most fresh graduates and young professionals will most likely encounter when entering the STEM industry?

There are several challenges, and being aware of them can help you prepare and navigate your career effectively.

One of the most significant challenges is the rapid pace of technological advancements. The industry is constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends is crucial to success.

Another challenge is the intense competition. With the increasing demand for skilled STEM professionals, there’s stiff competition for limited job vacancies. Possessing the necessary skills, knowledge and experience can help you stand out in the job market. I often advise fresh graduates and young professionals to also be proactive in networking and building relationships with industry professionals to increase their chances of landing a job, as well.

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The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab

In your opinion, are there any insights into the STEM industry that you think could surprise fresh graduates or young professionals looking to join it?

One of the most surprising things about the STEM industry is the wide range of career paths available. While many people associate STEM careers with traditional fields like engineering and computer science, the reality is that STEM skills are in high demand across many different industries. This includes fields like healthcare, finance and even entertainment. Fresh graduates and young professionals should keep an open mind when it comes to their career options and explore the many different paths available to them.

Another surprising aspect of the STEM industry is the importance of soft skills. While technical skills are certainly important, employers in the industry are increasingly looking for candidates who possess strong communication, leadership and teamwork abilities. These skills are critical for success in a collaborative and fast-paced work environment, and fresh graduates and young professionals should focus on developing them alongside their technical expertise.

The STEM industry is also a highly collaborative one. While the stereotype of a lone programmer working in a dark room still persists, the reality is that most STEM projects are team-based efforts that require close collaboration between individuals with different backgrounds and skillsets. Fresh graduates and young professionals should be prepared to work closely with others and to communicate their ideas and findings effectively.

PSB Campus_Life Science Lab

The Life Science Lab

What tips and advice would you give graduates and young professionals looking to enter the STEM industry?

First, STEM graduates are welcome in many areas of work, ranging from manufacturing, electronics, computer and life sciences, all the way to academia and even research. Within the industry, the scope of work can also be very varied. For instance, a STEM graduate working in the pharmaceutical industry can be involved in drug discovery, manufacturing, clinical trials or even sales. Because of this, it’s important for a graduate to understand their strengths and preferences, and find the right fit for themselves.

Secondly, besides domain-specific knowledge, employers look out for transferable skills, such as the ability to communicate ideas to others, and work well in a team. I would strongly encourage students to build up these skills during their studies, and highlight them in their resumes and interviews. These skills can be developed as part of their academic curriculum, like project work, or clubs and societies.

Last but not least, work in the STEM industry is very fulfilling, as you’re able to touch the lives of others through scientific contributions.

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The Mechanical Lab

All images are used courtesy of PSB Academy