Chemistry Is Interesting: Thomas Goh

17 November 2017

Chemistry has always fascinated Thomas from a young age. After completing his undergraduate studies in Chemistry and spending a few years working, he decided to pursue his Masters with TUM Asia to expand his career advancement opportunities. We catch up with him in this issue to hear his thoughts on his education experience.

Q: What was your inspiration that led you to pursue an education and career in Chemistry? 

Thomas: Ever since  my  early  teens,  I  have  always  been  fascinated  and  drawn  to  science,  particularly  to  Chemistry. My Chemistry teacher was an inspirational figure to me. I recall that she would often dye her hair in all sorts of colours and she would often stroll along the  hallway  and  yell  at  the  class  in  a  high-pitched  voice  saying  “Chemistry  is  interesting!”  Her  unique  methods to engage the class encouraged my interest in  the  subject  and  left  a  fond  impression  on  me.  To  this day, I can still remember her words, “Chemistry Is Interesting”, to my class like it was yesterday.

Q: What made you decide to pursue your Master degree?

Thomas: I  began  working  as  a  researcher  after  completing my undergraduate studies. As a researcher, the career advancement is limited if one does not have a doctorate. I felt that pursuing a Masters in Industrial Chemistry would help me to achieve my career goals. The  programme  at  TUM  Asia  was  able  to  provide  what  I  needed  to  advance  my  career.  It  has  allowed  me to enhance my knowledge and expose myself to modules  related  to  the  business  aspects  of  science  and  engineering.  I  am  also  glad  that  my  bosses  and  colleagues were supportive of my decision to pursue higher education.

Q: Comparing  your  Bachelors  and  Masters,  what  has  changed in your perspective towards studying?

Thomas:  The teaching systems are very  different  between   my   Bachelor   and   Master programmes.   During  my  Bachelor  programme,  we  have  to  take  approximately five to six modules per semester and sit for the final exams, which span across a period of 3 weeks. The stress level that I experienced was much higher  as  I  had  to  study  these  modules  within  the  same period of time. On the other hand, my Master’s programme    typically    follows    a    block    teaching    schedule, where we study one module within two to three  weeks.  It  is  easier  for  us  to  give  each  module  our  full  attention.  However,  I  suppose  this  works  differently   for   each individual   because   everyone   retains information in a different manner.

Q: You will be graduating this year. Looking back, how do you feel about your graduate studies’ experience?

Thomas:  The  programme  has  been  reasonably  fun  and  I  remember  being  excited  to  meet  the  different  German professors in my programme. Each of them bring  with  them  their  expertise  from  different  areas  of chemistry. I particularly enjoyed Professor Johann Plank’s  lecture  from  the  module  ‘Building  Chemistry  and  Construction  Chemicals’,  which  allowed  us  to  make  cement  every  day  in  class.  Professor  Michael  Rossbach was also one of the most friendly, flexible and helpful professors I have met. I am also lucky to have a group of fun and supportive classmates from different parts of the world – China, Germany, India, Saudi  Arabia  and  Singapore.  We  often  exchange  cultural and language tips (and laugh at each other).

Q: Every Master student has to complete an internship. You completed your internship at SGL Carbon. How  did it go?

Thomas: My internship was conducted in Germany with SGL Carbon and it was an amazing experience. SGL  Carbon  is  a  German  chemical  company  and they are known for being one of the world’s leading manufacturers    for    products    made    of    carbon.    During  my  internship,  I  was  required  to  observe  the  manufacturing plant, conduct quality control testing, work  on  research  and  development,  and  worked  on  many  innovative  ideas  that  they  were  exploring  to  keep up with the industry trends. The German working culture was really nice as well – focused, efficient, and professional. I would love to work in Germany in future should there be an opportunity.

Q: Now that you have come to the end of your Masters, what’s next for you?

Thomas: After returning to Singapore from Germany, I started working as a Research Engineer in National University  of  Singapore  (NUS).  Till  now,  I  am  still  intrigued  by  the  spontaneity  of  research  and  the  opportunity  to  learn  new  things.  In  time  to  come,  I  hope  to  further  expand  my  knowledge  in  Chemistry  and  eventually  become  a  lecturer.  This  would  allow  me  to    impart  my  knowledge  and  ideas  to  the  next  generation.

Thomas Goh is a graduate in the joint TUM-NUS Master of Science in Industrial Chemistry programme. More information about the programme here >>

This interview was published in the DIGEST May – Aug 2017 issue >>

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