"I was surprised to learn that we would be graduating together in the same cohort… (Nevertheless,) I am glad that we could commemorate this milestone together."
For Military Expert (ME) 4 Roy Tan, becoming a Senior Military Expert on Thursday was extra special because his father ME4 Tan Gim Cheong was also appointed at the same time.
Looking back to before his training began ME4 Roy recounted: "While I was certain I would be undergoing the course to become a Senior Military Expert, my father had not been selected for the course yet." As a lead engineer in the Headquarters Maintenance & Engineering Support, the 25-year-old Regular is presently involved in engineering initiatives to enable expedient repairs in the fields as well as projects related to additive manufacturing.
"Indeed, it was a lucky coincidence," said ME4 Gim Cheong, who had decided later to take up the course as well. The 53-year-old is a Senior Instructor at the Republic of Singapore Navy's Platform Technology Systems School, where he conducts lessons to hone the competencies of the Navy's aspiring sailors in naval platform systems.
Deepening domain knowledge
In spite of the happy coincidence, their journey has not been an easy one. They had to first go through the Military Domain Experts Course (MDEC), which trains MEs to assume roles in the SAF where in-depth expertise in areas such as engineering, intelligence, military medicine and cybersecurity is required.
ME4 Roy's four-week-long course at the Ordnance Engineering Training Institute (OETI) Engineering School [OES] saw him having to learn to overcome the learning differences between him and his course-mates, who came in at different levels and stages of their lives.
One example was the reliability tests conducted during a reliability engineering module, where those fresh from school were able to comfortably tackle the statistics portion, whereas the rest excelled in practical aspects of training on the systems.
"We helped them, and they in turn, imparted to us their practical experience," ME4 Roy said
For ME4 Gim Cheong, who has been with the SAF for the past 34 years, it was all about honing his leadership skills and sharpening his expertise through his course.
Recalling the nine weeks spent at the Naval Military Expert Institute, ME4 Gim Cheong said: "I found the course very engaging and fruitful. The syllabus covered a wide range of areas, including leadership and discipline. We learnt how to mentor and coach our men effectively."
The father-and-son pair also helped each other in their personal capacities at home. ME4 Roy, for example, introduced his father to grammar tools to sharpen his writing skills for the theory assignments.
Developing leadership capabilities
ME4 Roy went on to top the class and received the Sword of Honour (SOH) award. The SOH is given to outstanding candidates based on their performance in the MDEC.
"I am honoured to be a recipient of the SOH. I believe that I was only able to clinch the award thanks to the excellent rapport that I had built with my course-mates," he said.
Beaming with pride, ME4 Gim Cheong had high praises for his son: "While I was initially surprised, I knew that Roy had put in a lot of effort."
Looking ahead, while the two may hail from different Services, both father and son have the same goal in mind: To lead the men under their charge effectively as military experts of the SAF.
"Going forward, I hope to mentor and assist the instructors in my team, be it planning for the training programmes or assisting them with disciplinary issues," remarked ME4 Gim Cheong.
Echoing his father's sentiments, ME4 Roy, said: "I hope the projects that I embark on will enhance our operational capabilities and will train me to become a better leader in the SAF."