From Realty Sales to Conquering CSD

Switching from business to design engineering, Salihin makes a complete shift when joining the Traineeship.

Salihin Bin Sani is not our typical AcePLP Trainee CAD Engineer. His Business background and sales experience made him one of the rare few who bravely applied despite the lack of an engineering background. As a result, the company was surprised to receive his application then. Nonetheless, after a preliminary assessment, we decided to give him an interview chance.

Salihin admitted that he was uncertain about the interview at first. However, he exuded confidence during the interview and expressed his determination to pursue a complete career change away from sales. In short, he was adamant to succeed, even when facing this vastly different job scope. As the end of his employment approaches, Salihin shares with us his takeaways from the two years’ journey and his plans after AcePLP.

“Building bridges between different individuals has greatly enabled me to get my work done.” -Salihin

You’ve done the incredible and conquered the uphill task of jumping from Business studies to the AEC Industry !
What now ?

I intend to study a BCA Specialist Diploma in M&E Coordination for the necessary paper qualifications, because I would like to become a coordinator eventually. I believe my CSD/SEM experience during my two years, coupled with some design coordination experience will give me a head start compared to some engineers who are limited to only one specialization throughout their careers.

How did you come across coordination in the first place ?

When I was assigned to client China State Engineering Corporation to understudy a fellow colleague, I found out the Coordination Team was looking for drafting support, so I hopped on board because it was an opportunity I could not resist.

Did you immediately know that you had what it takes to do CSD and coordination ?

Admittedly, Combined Services Drawings, using Microstation V8i, was a complicated discipline to conquer with my inexperience. However, CSD had always intrigued me because of its complexity and the various disciplines it encompasses. I was aware of the challenges, but I believed my strength in Microstation, and my willingness to learn and work hard will make up for whatever I lacked.

What kind of challenges did you face initially, given your lack of engineering background ?

Learning the technical terms, capturing and incorporating details were some key challenges. Many a time I found myself reaching an impasse at work, but I would push on, using the web to search for answers and ask others around me. There were a lot of mistakes that I committed in the initial phase, resulting in “reprimands” ranging from normal tongue-lashing to humiliation (yes, I am not kidding). But I believe drafting persons are capable of much more if given the opportunity. So I persevered on, seeing them all as a part of my learning curve.

It appears that you have struggled a lot before achieving success. How did you work to develop a more natural work instinct in this industry ?

Being proactive and taking charge of my own learning elevated my personal growth. I began to appreciate the complexities of the CSD processes and as I probed deeper, the micro aspects of each process. I began to see problems in 3D perspectives and working meticulously came more naturally after a while.

Which part of the in-house training do you value the most ?

The Microstation training has helped me a lot as it is a prerequisite for many government transport projects. However, I still feel that while anyone can be taught to use a tool, how he/she makes the best out of it depends on the person’s motivation and creativity.

Could you share with us your understanding of the industry and the lesson you’ve learnt thus far ?

One thing I learned about the roles in this industry is that while drafters may not have an in-depth engineering knowledge, engineers also lack the knowledge of the drafting and design process. As a result, engineers and coordinators can make mistake after mistake, creating difficulty for drafting persons. The lesson learnt here is to always double check the information given to you, rather than blindly absorbing them. This will help you to avoid adopting misconceptions; derive better judgments and make informed decisions on your own in the future.

Do you have specific sources of information that helped in guiding you ?

I had a great mentor onsite who has more than 20 years of experience doing commercial and civil projects. He is even more resourceful than any websites and his explanations were very clear. I also used general search engines extensively when I looked for information, and did not rely on a specific source.

Any regrets of having taken this route ?

No. AcePLP has been a catalyst in my career transformation. Throughout my various client assignments, I have learnt a lot and discovered the important qualities one should focus on to succeed in this industry.One of the most crucial qualities is the building of healthy working relationships with fellow co-workers and superiors. Building bridges between different individuals has greatly enabled me to obtain additional knowledge and technical support to get my work done.I had taken up a challenge of doing something different and I am proud to say I had achieved it.


Salihin’s Tips on CSD

CSD is all about collating information, verifying those information and space coordination. A trainee CAD Engineer needs to be equipped with an arsenal of skills and knowledge. If a trainee CAD Engineer has none, start from the minimal, which is be at the very least, competent with the drafting tools, after which, develop and seek understanding of the various disciplines. For example:

Understand the Conceptual Designs according to a particular approach in achieving objectives under the given constraints or limitations.

Basic Structural knowledge such as slab and wall reinforcements.

Services include ACMV, Plumbing and Sanitary, Mechanical & Electrical, Signals & Communications etc.

Track Works
For an MRT project, having some knowledge in this area is a bonus as the under-platform level is an important element of the MRT station design.
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