My Father, My Inspiration - ME4 Joel Tan

My Father, My Inspiration - ME4 Joel Tan

1. What motivated you to start a career as an Air Force Engineer? 

Since I was a child, I’ve always been inquisitive about engineering and its wonders; understanding how things worked and "why planes fly". I enjoyed taking things apart and learning how to put them back together. As my dad is also an Air Force Engineer, I have been attending RSAF related events, such as Airshows and Open Houses, and these experiences further fueled my passion in military and aviation. Following this passion, I joined the National Cadet Corps in secondary school, and went on to pursue a Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering. The offer for a career as an AFE presented itself during this time, and I immediately took it up. During my second year of service in the RSAF, the organisation recognised my contributions, and gave me the opportunity to further my studies under the SAF Engineering Award. After a rigorous 9-month stint in the Officer Cadet School, I commenced my studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering (Highest Distinction). Now, I’m back to contribute to the RSAF as a Senior Military Expert. 

Thanks to his father’s passion for his job in the RSAF, ME4 Joel has been exposed to the organisation and its culture from a very young age.

2. How has growing up with an Air Force Engineer in your family influenced your approach to your career? 

To be honest, my dad being an AFE is what influenced my decision to pursue a career as an AFE the most. His close connection to the RSAF exposed me to the organisation, and military culture as a whole, throughout my growing years. He is a firm believer of “actions speak louder than words”, and while he might seem like a man of few words, he expresses himself with action, and I have always been inspired by his passion and tireless dedication for his job. He specialises in the propulsion systems of the CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Even though my dad has to spend long hours at work, and significant periods away from home when he was posted to overseas detachments, he always had a strong sense of purpose in what he does, and is committed to improving the lives of people in his team. These qualities reinforced my decision to follow in his footsteps and join the RSAF as an AFE. 

ME4 Joel and his father pose for a photo with the Air Force One aircraft during former US President Donald Trump’s visit to Singapore in 2018.

3. How is it like having a fellow AFE living under the same roof? 

Growing up, I always saw my dad as a quiet and strict man who ensured that I grew up to be a resourceful and independent individual. He is a hard worker, and raised me to learn to be responsible for my own life choices. Since I joined the RSAF, we have definitely found more common topics to talk about, mostly revolving around our daily tasks at work. He still retains his style of not simply providing me with solutions or advice, but rather, he challenges me to analyse problems and find approaches to resolve issues in the most efficient way. 

ME4 Joel sharing a candid moment with his father outside of work. Ever since he started his career as an AFE, the duo have found many more common topics to chat about.

4. How do you hope to further contribute to the RSAF in the years to come? 

Being entrusted to take up the role of a Senior Military Expert involves not only being armed with deep engineering expertise, but more importantly, being an effective leader. The RSAF prides itself as being a First Class Air Force driven by World Class People, and our people are the key assets that ensure that Air Power is generated and sustained on a day-to-day basis. The RSAF and my Commanders have provided me with opportunities to develop myself and grow, and I look forward to contributing back to the organisation with my knowledge and expertise, while also developing our people. My father has definitely left big shoes for me to fill, but this motivates me to continue to give my best to ensure that our RSAF assets continue to be ready to defend Singapore and our skies 24/7.