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Good Structural Engineering Companies

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robbi83
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Good Structural Engineering Companies

Postby robbi83 » Wed, 06 May 2015 4:52 am

Hi everyone :)

I'm soon finishing my studies in civil engineering, specialized in structural engineering. Looking for jobs in Singapore from abroad, I found that almost all companies are relatively large (100+ employees). However, I think I'm mainly interested in medium-sized companies of about 40-100 employees. The problem is that companies of this size often have a small web presence which means that I can't find them easily and that it's harder to judge the quality of the company sometimes (especially when their references look good but the website looks like shit).

That's why I came to this forum: Where I live now, the students and engineers usually know which offices are the better ones, simply from their reputation. Can someone say which are the good structural engineering offices in Singapore? I'm looking for those that design structures (steel/concrete/wood) from the early phases of the project, I'm not particularly interested in the detail planning that happens right before or even during construction. I'm especially interested in tall buildings and steel structures.

Other comments about this industry in Singapore (salary, office culture, ...) are also welcome!

Thanks in advance.

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Strong Eagle
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Re: Good Structural Engineering Companies

Postby Strong Eagle » Wed, 06 May 2015 10:16 am

Methinks you have a lot to learn about the lay of the land here. First, you are a green behind the ears engineer. You don't say if you have bachelors or masters, and it really doesn't matter... because you have nothing to offer that a local engineering graduate cannot offer... indeed, you may know less because you have no knowledge of local practice, rules, regulations, and construction techniques.

Therefore, if you were to find a company that was willing to hire you they would have to prove up that they could not find the same kind of talent in the local population, and being as you have no special skill sets, that might be hard to do.

Second, you must know that because engineering firms are so projectized, they do everything they can to keep permanent headcount down, and then outsource to smaller firms when they hit the gravy train. You don't want to work for the largest firms... which will probably be the ones with MNC stature and the ones most able to bring you on board. But the smaller firms are local or regional. They're mainly Chinese, maybe Indian. Either way, they are all in a tight knit community, where contacts with one another and contacts with the government, which is a big purchaser of engineering projects, are an essential element of success. I judge that there is no way a foreigner would be hired over a local in a smaller firm, simply because you can't offer anything in the way of connections.

So... I don't mean to toss a turd into your punch bowl... and... the odds are against you finding employment. You may be more in demand in other Asian countries, if you are willing to live there but I'm just not seeing it in Singapore.

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Re: Good Structural Engineering Companies

Postby Barnsley » Wed, 06 May 2015 12:09 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:Methinks you have a lot to learn about the lay of the land here. First, you are a green behind the ears engineer. You don't say if you have bachelors or masters, and it really doesn't matter... because you have nothing to offer that a local engineering graduate cannot offer... indeed, you may know less because you have no knowledge of local practice, rules, regulations, and construction techniques.

Therefore, if you were to find a company that was willing to hire you they would have to prove up that they could not find the same kind of talent in the local population, and being as you have no special skill sets, that might be hard to do.

Second, you must know that because engineering firms are so projectized, they do everything they can to keep permanent headcount down, and then outsource to smaller firms when they hit the gravy train. You don't want to work for the largest firms... which will probably be the ones with MNC stature and the ones most able to bring you on board. But the smaller firms are local or regional. They're mainly Chinese, maybe Indian. Either way, they are all in a tight knit community, where contacts with one another and contacts with the government, which is a big purchaser of engineering projects, are an essential element of success. I judge that there is no way a foreigner would be hired over a local in a smaller firm, simply because you can't offer anything in the way of connections.

So... I don't mean to toss a turd into your punch bowl... and... the odds are against you finding employment. You may be more in demand in other Asian countries, if you are willing to live there but I'm just not seeing it in Singapore.


I was gonna say something similar.

I expect its quite tricky to get into the Civil Engineering game here as a foreigner with no background or work experience to show.

Maybe if you study here you have half a chance.
Life is short, paddle harder!!

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Re: Good Structural Engineering Companies

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 06 May 2015 12:27 pm

Actually 10 to 15 years ago, it was quite easy if you were a civil engineer fresher say from the UK or Aus to get a job here with the small local SME firms. Singaporeans don't like civil engineering in general and especially if they cannot be "project" engineers straight out of the starting gate (e.g., wear a white shirt & tie and never come out of the aircon office). In fact, the Australians jumped all over that back during the 90's & '00's coming up here and hiring on as site civils and slogging in the mud for two years on a local contract and bunking 3 or 4 to a condo. Then they would return to Aus and go back to work with a couple of years of international exposure in additions to site experience and would generally get a 50% uplift over their cohort that remained in Aus. Not too sure if you can still pull it off today or not as I've been out of the headhunting circle for a dozen years now.

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Re: Good Structural Engineering Companies

Postby robbi83 » Wed, 06 May 2015 11:54 pm

So you would actually say that the info I found on this MOM page is inaccurate (or I misinterpeted it) and that civil engineers aren't particularly in demand right now?

Maybe I will look into larger firms after all if you say that this is where I could actually stand a chance when applying. I definitely see a lot of benefits there, but I also often heard about worse office culture and work-life balance in such firms.

A little bit more info on myself: I'm going to finish 5 years of study when I get my MSc from ETH Zürich (Switzerland), which seems to be comparable to NUS in university rankings over the last few years. Based on this (and comparing myself to other students) I thought I could probably compete with the local graduates.

I would still like it if someone could name a few reputable companies, or say where I can find them. Thanks for the replies so far.

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Re: Good Structural Engineering Companies

Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 07 May 2015 1:27 am

That list is a Singapore wish list... you'll probably at least be considered if you are in one of the listed professions. But, that's about it... you'll still need to meet experience, education, and salary qualifications to get a work permit.

Maybe SMS is still right... no locals want to be structural engineers... although I will say that during my time as a sidewalk superintendent I have watched many projects on the island, from office buildings, to MRT construction, to work along PIE, and I have talked to many superintendents, non of whom was white.

Don't quit trying to find a job... just don't be surprised if it turns out to be more difficult that you originally estimated. I think it will be more difficult with the current focus on local PMET's.

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Re: Good Structural Engineering Companies

Postby martincymru » Thu, 07 May 2015 4:10 am

You have connected with this forum and reading your post impresses me (partially). You will be successful (I think).

Advice (in good faith) : define precisely what you mean and what you say; your English is such that readers have to interpet your objective. It's inefficient for you and me.

Comment: Mainstream Civil Engineers (design or execution stage) have zero opportunities here unless you dilute significantly your financial expectations ( = local labour market).


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