MDIS mechanical engineering undergraduate Ahmad Izhar Ahmad Zaini hopes to become a lecturer one day to train the next generation of engineers
Oct 19, 2022
As the saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” This could not be truer for 37-year-old Ahmad Izhar Ahmad Zaini, who dropped out of polytechnic thrice.
The first time, he dropped out just after the first semester, having skipped school to hang out with friends and to play football. He went on to serve his national service, and after obtaining a Higher Nitec in Mechatronics Engineering in 2008, he decided to give polytechnic another go to improve his job prospects. But halfway through his diploma, his father – the sole breadwinner of the family – was stricken with cancer and he had to quit school to work and help support his family.
He got a job as a technician at a local electricity and gas distribution company in 2009 and after working for three years, he decided to again pursue part-time diploma studies. But work and family commitments stood in the way.
Mr Izhar did not think about going back to school again, until 2017 when his industry was hit by retrenchments. Then married with a toddler and with another baby on the way, Mr Izhar began to fear for his job security. He enrolled in Singapore Polytechnic to obtain a diploma in Mechanical Engineering.
He recalls: “Studying part-time while working and taking care of my children was very tiring, but my family was very supportive and encouraging.
“My colleagues at SP also pushed me on and helped to cover my work duties when I had to go to school.”
He graduated from his diploma course in 2019. But Mr Izhar did not stop there. In May last year, he enrolled in MDIS’s Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Honours) Mechanical Engineering (Top-up) course.
Awarded by Teesside University, the programme takes only a year to complete. It covers a broad spectrum of engineering topics to give students a rounded understanding of the field and critical thinking skills to analyse complex problems.
Mr Izhar has found the lecturers knowledgeable and friendly. “They spend some time before class chatting with us about our life and hobbies instead of diving straight into the lesson plan. This makes us feel more comfortable and relaxed,” he says.
His classmates are from all walks of life, and many of them are working and studying part-time like him. To ensure that no one gets left behind, classmates share information and resources; they even set up study sessions over Zoom on Saturday mornings to motivate and help one another with coursework.
Now a father of three, Mr Izhar is already planning for a master's degree after completing his bachelor’s. “I am keen to continue learning, upgrading and upskilling myself. We are never too old to take on new things.”