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This article was contributed by Singapore Polytechnic.
Voon Zhi Kai Tristan
Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering (DARE)
Awards: Lee Kuan Yew Award
Reaching Great Heights
Growing up, Voon Zhi Kai Tristan, was always fascinated by planes, from its design to development, he wanted to learn everything. His parents, who were then working in the aviation industry, often shared their anecdotes and knowledge, nurturing his passion in all things aeronautical from a young age.
The Dunman Secondary alumnus knew his calling before he took his GCE ‘O’ Levels. Impressed by Singapore Polytechnic (SP)’s teaching framework, good internship opportunities and wide range of facilities, Tristan enrolled in the Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering course via the Early Admissions Exercise.
In SP, Tristan flourished holistically. He took on various leadership positions including being President of the SP Makers Club and participated in competitions and programmes that allowed him to expand his horizons. These opportunities helped hone his leadership and presentation skills over the years. Despite various commitments, Tristan still excelled in his academics and even clinched the SP Engineering Scholarship.
Wrapping up engineering education on a high, Tristan’s team broke the speed of sound for their final year project! Under the SP Engineering Academy programme, his team developed a Supersonic Wind Tunnel – a device capable of accelerating air above the speed of sound and sustain it. This project will be further refined and used as an educational tool to educate future aeronautical engineering students on how aircrafts are designed.
Outside of the classroom, Tristan actively participates in community work, competitions and conferences, never letting any learning opportunity pass him by.
The Learning Express programme gave Tristan an opportunity to visit Makkassar, Indonesia. Over there, Tristan and fellow students from various courses utilised the Design Thinking framework to help a local soy sauce manufacturer scale up and increase their production capacity. Over many days, the team tried to understand the fundamental problems, identify bottlenecks in the manufacturing process and even brainstormed marketing ideas to boost demand for the business. Eventually, their proposed solutions were readily accepted by the local manufacturer.
Tristan was part of the committee that organised the Youth Model ASEAN Conference (YMAC). The YMAC saw student delegates from Southeast Asia coming together to discuss and debate critical issues affecting the region. The experience spurred Tristan on and he subsequently took part in the Model United Nations Conference where he was nominated for being an outstanding delegate and having the best negotiation skills!
Always keen to put his knowledge to the test, the ambitious youth also took part in many competitions outside of SP. A challenge from his lecturer saw him and two other friends participating in the Aviation Safety Competition 2021. With their proposed AI Enabled Diagnostics Solution to help in-flight aircraft with troubleshooting, his team beat out competitors from other polytechnics and even universities, to clinch the first runner-up title.
In 2019, Tristan also took part in the Humanitarian Disaster Relief Challenge, where his team successfully developed a solution that would integrate with existing space assets to reduce response time during disasters. This innovative solution was even presented to Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean during the Annual Global Space and Technology Conference.
With all that he has experienced, combined with his passion for the aerospace industry, Tristan only has one goal – to play a part in elevating the prominence and status of Singapore’s aerospace sector. Tristan is looking to further his education in this field and has already been offered a spot to read Mechanical Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University.