Epistemological conundrums of an academic global nomad

I am an engineer, an environmental engineer and more than half the time i have the dubious honor what is exactly the domain as an electrical or mechanical engineering is more mainstream. It is usually confused with environmental or life sciences and its identity is usually muddled up with chemical and civil engineering. In lay man’s terminology it is related to pollution control and conserving nature via tech solutioneering. Recently a colleague, mentioned that it is not a high paying job, yes its operational jobs are paid as low as senior technicians and most of the day it is with government agencies, and consulting offers saves the day for many of my fraternity financially. Environmental researchers are saving the world metaphorically, but the job opportunities are few and far in between. Prior to Environmental Engineering and NUS, I majored in Industrial Biotechnology in my undergrad in Oman, a hotpotch semi science, semi engineering degree that is a good for nothing degree apart from being a good launch pad for a  research career in the life sciences as it had a broad based curriculum ranging from chemical engineering to cell biology.  I wrote all my undergrad research papers and publications in technology policy and business as my wandering mind was never satiated with science.  I am an accidental engineer at best, as a good Indian boy I was fulfilling my mother’s desire to have an engineer son!

In retrospect, I was’nt a miserable engineer as I knew my stuff. I undermined my technical abilities considerably. I loved bioprocess engineering and molecular biology during my undergrad, and air pollution control and risk assessment during my masters. My passion for public policy made apply for my second masters in sociology and here at NTU i work on the social elements of an exciting infrastructure project.  Politics, History, Society have been hobbies which i plan to convert to a career via writing, teaching and consulting. Academic transitions have been emotionally brutal and my present endevour in sociology is a labor of love, as I do not have the academic skills of a sociology major but I can definitely see the applications of the theoretical grounding in real life incidents, having had a diverse academic canvas.

I share the sentiment of Prof. Tommy Koh, the Ambassador at Large of the Singaporean Foreign Ministry and senior academic that right opportunities opened up at the right time even if I am not a straight A student, which certainly I am not. I am only an intellectual explorer, (not an academic fanatic), in search of new frontiers to create synergistic value, and trying to be of some good to the community around me rather than going away with warming the pews of the Church of life, which would be quite sad. I do not know which direction i am heading next professionally but I do expect a fascinating journey ahead. The end might not be as productive as the journey, but is productivity everything in life?   naah ….


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