Today, a little remote controller for the garage accidentally cracked open when my husband dropped it. The battery fell out (we didn’t noticed it), and of course it didn’t work as it should. Manually I opened the garage gate, and I was suspecting that there is supposed to be a battery. We sent our daughter to her school, and came back to look for the battery. Fortunately, it was still there, and we placed it back into the remote, and now the gate opens.

Recalling the mini-PCB (printed circuit board) in the remote controller, I started to reminisce about my days at AIWA.

In our tertiary studies, a part of it is industrial attachment. This is a very important 6 months real-life working experience during the 3 year diploma studies programme. That time, being paid with an amount of S$500 is considered the highest rate. Most of my classmates received $200, or even $250. There are attachment placements that do not offer any salary, so the student is there to learn on the go for a full six months without getting any compensation. I was one of the luckier ones.

My experience was working for this ‘Japanese’ company producing stereo sound systems called ‘mini hi-fi’. The brand name is ‘AIWA’ and shortly after I left since I have completed my six months of work, the company was acquired by SONY. Sony used to own Aiwa, but discontinued using the Aiwa brand in 2007.


Aiwa NSX-V10 Compact Stereo System (Receiver: CD Player – Tuner – AUX – Tape Deck Speakers: 40 Watts RMS – 6 OHMs)

Looking back, I find that we have gone through so much changes in entertainment systems. Those days in the 80s and 90s, it is big Stereo Systems like this that shows prestige in a home. Nowadays, we want everything bluetooth, wireless, small but high volume output, low energy consumption, green and earth-friendly –  as seamless as possible!

I really learned a lot during that six months. Together with three other Electronics Engineering students in the other classes, I was working under a technical Engineer from Malaysia. He is ‘Chong’ from Kuala Lumpur. The other course mate is ‘Violet L’ (that’s what I could remember), she was working under another Malaysian called ‘Tay’. I was rather a hardworking and always learning ‘lady engineering student’. This field is rather male dominated in Singapore (it was slowly changing but still).

I used to carry a note book (which I gather a stack of clear memo (squarish shaped) papers and a DIY cover. ) It is always in my work ‘uniform’ that looks like a short sleeve grey coat, and a pencil to scribble and jot notes. Chong sometimes laughed at me and he and Tay are always comparing me and Violet in terms of our learning attitude. Chong leads a line of products while Tay led another. Their roles is to ensure good product quality from start til end of the new product (that is until it is delivered to the shopping malls, after which to customers end).

The prototyping was quite a long process, from automatic insertion of the components on the PCBs, to some parts of manual handling of certain components. Then there is this PCB Assembly phase, etching, and molding, testing etc. Project management skills is a strength of Chong (at least that was what I have learnt from him). People skills, he has this ability to make ‘small talk’ to the production team to get work done.

After AIWA, I graduated and started working as an Engineering Assistant in a Japanese multi-national company (MNC). I was dealing with Centum, distributed control systems, an ISO certified.

Yokogawa Electric Corporation (横河電機株式会社 Yokogawa-denki Kabushiki-kaisha) is a Japanese electrical engineering and software company, with businesses based on its measurement, control, and information technologies.

It has a global workforce of over 19,000 employees, 84 subsidiary and 3 affiliated companies operating in 55 countries. The company is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the Nikkei 225 stock index. Yokogawa pioneered the development of distributed control systems and introduced its Centum series DCS in 1975.

Again it was a workplace where I learned a LOT!