Isaac tan industrial Placement with  the company Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS).

Isaac Tan


What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

I work for the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS), a division of the National Environment Agency (NEA). Within the MSS, I work in the Weather Services Department (WSD) which deals with satellite operations, weather observation and weather forecasting occurs. It officially comprises Singapore’s central forecasting office.


What is your role within the company?

I am currently working on a project that involves analysing the relationship between various atmospheric variables and the different spatial and temporal rainfall patterns across the island. The aim is to design a web interface to help forecasters to predict accurately where and when it will rain, since tropical rainfall is highly unpredictable and can be very intense. I also hope to predict the risks of rainfall exceeding certain rates that would trigger flash flooding in various regions, so that heavy rain warnings can be issued in advance for stakeholders who would potentially be affected.


What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?

Tropical weather forecasting is challenging as models are not of sufficiently high resolution to resolve very small, local-scale processes (e.g. cloud formation and local convection). Hence, for my project, I need to make use of extensive ground-based historical data to find various relationships between atmospheric variables and rainfall.

I enjoy the experience of having my meteorology knowledge from first and second years applied in the real working world. I am especially interested in the spatial and temporal patterns of rainfall in Singapore since thunderstorms can pop up anytime and interact with the environment in very dynamic, unpredictable ways. Some parts of the small island can receive large amounts of rainfall in a short period of time, while other parts receive none. The rainfall can also become extremely intense, with lots of lightning and thunder, making these storms even more exciting.


What do you think you have got out of this experience so far?

I have embraced working life back in Singapore, which is obviously very different to student life. Importantly, I figured out my daily routine by the end of my first week. In the office, I usually work independently, and my supervisor checks on my progress occasionally. However, I also periodically approach him once I have completed a sample of work to ensure that I am on the right track before moving on.

I have been able to observe how all of the theory that I learnt in class is put into practice through the different operations at my office - especially the daily weather forecast briefing. My project also enables me to extend my understanding of the statistical knowledge I learnt in the Environmental Research and Career Skills module in Year 2 to analyse non-linear relationships between rainfall characteristics in Singapore, and a composite of atmospheric variables. During intense thunderstorm events, I also have the opportunity to witness the severe weather warnings issued, such as lightning risk and heavy rain warnings. These are the most exciting of my working hours.

Working in the airport is a true privilege and I can see planes taking off every few minutes from my office window. I also get to enjoy staff discounts at restaurants and the food courts. Finally, I have been able to get to know a few of my colleagues, and I usually have lunch with my friend, who recently graduated and started work at MSS the same time I started my year in industry.

Do you have any tips and advice for current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

From my experience, I would provide the following tips:

1. Research a few companies you might be interested in working for during your year in industry, and send emails to inquire if they offer such an opportunity. Do remember to send your CV as well.

2. Contact your student employability officer once you have decided on a handful of specific companies. They may well have someone that you can directly contact, which was the case for me.

3. Ensure your CV is up-to-date. You can use the Careers Centre to check your CV and get help.

4. Don’t leave it to the last minute – start applications months before the end of Year 2 (i.e. at the start of the New Year). However, there is no need to panic either since it’s still possible to secure a year in industry around May-June.

5. Make sure you consider your accommodation and check the living expenses if doing your year in industry overseas. Singapore is generally a very expensive place to live, but because I have family there, living costs are hardly an issue for me. If you are going to an unknown country, don’t forget to take cultural differences into account.