Growing up with his father's farming businesses taught undergraduate Aaron Siow valuable lessons on the food we consume and spurred him to study food technology at SIT
By Mary Wu
February 22, 2021
When he is not studying, undergraduate Aaron Siow is usually up to fishy business.
The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) student can often be found at his father’s fish farm, sorting fish, monitoring water conditions and carrying out the maintenance of tanks and filtration systems.
It was a natural progression – from the tender age of nine, he was exposed to farming when his father tended a plot of land in Mandai where they grew vegetables. After national service, as his dad expanded into fish farming, Mr Siow also started learning about the business.
The 23-year-old says: “Through farming, I realised that the saying ‘you are what you eat’ has some truth to it. That was the driving factor when I applied for SIT’s food technology course; I wanted to make a difference in the food we consume in Singapore."
“I chose SIT because it provides students with opportunities for applied learning, so that we are better equipped and prepared for the food tech industry (through the Integrated Work Study Programme). Final-year students also have the chance to travel to Massey University in New Zealand to complete a module there.”
Launched in 2016, the SIT-Massey University food technology programme aims to produce specialists in the area of food solutions and progressive food technologies. Under a curriculum developed together with Massey University, students would be primed for an international career in the food industry.
At SIT, students are well supported, be it in the form of peer encouragement, study groups, lecturers who go the extra mile, or even an on-campus Student Life Department that provides helplines and laptop loans, says Mr Siow.
The school also offers a Mid-term Scholarship that covers tuition and miscellaneous fees for students who have achieved outstanding academic results. Mr Siow, a second-year student, was awarded this scholarship for clinching a grade point average of over 4.5 and his involvement in SIT food tech’s student management committee.
When he first took up the food technology course, Mr Siow was looking to pick up skills that would be relevant to his father’s farming business, such as innovative ways to process, package and enhance local produce so it can be better marketed here.
The Year 1 Product Development module he took turned out to be especially beneficial.
He says: “The hands-on module was an eye-opening experience into the processes that go into creating a new food product for the market. It made me realise how much effort and trials are behind a product we see on the supermarket shelves.”
In addition, students have access to an industry lab, set up in collaboration with flavour and fragrance specialist KH Roberts.
A new elective module – Conventional and Emerging Food Processing Technologies – has also been launched. Focusing on real-world challenges, it allows students to study industry-relevant problems and obtain work experience at food processing plants.
Eventually, Mr Siow will learn multiple aspects of food production through SIT’s Food Technology programme, such as science, engineering and business.
He says: “All of these aspects are necessary in the industry, and being proficient in one aspect is not enough. There are also various hands-on experiences so we are better able to understand how to apply concepts in an actual scenario.”