I am always looking for new opportunities and experiences – it’s part of how I think. As a Mechanical Engineer at SIGMADESIGN, I work on a lot of different project types. I like the variety. When I noticed that the firm was hiring a Mechanical Engineer for our Singapore Office, I wondered if this might be something I could do, so I asked if the position was open to employees within the firm and found that indeed it was.

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of doing contract work because of the variation it affords. Many of the employees at SIGMADESIGN work as on-site consultants. It’s a nice way to experience something new and see first-hand how others work. For me, I’ve always been attracted to working in a new location and I love traveling. So, I decided to apply for the position in Singapore and SIGMADESIGN decided it was a good fit.

I got some funny reactions to my decision to move. Because I have a family (a wife and two young girls) some of my relatives thought this might be a hard feat. After all, I grew up in Vancouver, Washington and I have only ever lived in the country. Our VP of Engineering, Matt Cameron said, “You’re a country guy. You really want to live in the city?” Other people reacted excitedly such as,”I think it sounds like an awesome time,” or they were horrified and said, “I think it sounds like a miserable time.”

To me it was more of a question of “Why wouldn’t I do it?” I don’t want to limit myself. That being said, I had a lot to organize to make it possible. After talking it over with my wife Kirstin, we decided it would be a remarkable experience for our family and very educational for our girls. The kids are home-schooled so that made the decision easier, not to mention school in Singapore runs from 10 to 20K for elementary students.

Kirstin and I visited Singapore in October 2015 for week to check it out. I found the hardest thing for me to deal with was the climate. It’s really hot and humid! We found the apartment we’d move into – the same apartments where Shawn, our VP of Asia Operations, lived when he started the office 8 years ago. The complex, named “The Warren,” is about a 40 minute commute via public transit and about a 30 minute commute by bike. I’m hoping to bike to work most of the time.

Getting ready to move presented a large feat. The mountain of stuff we had to deal with included:

  • Selling the house /farm
  • Getting rid of animals: 3 sheep, 9 chickens, 3 ducks, 1 dog, and 2 horses
  • Purging stuff and palletizing everything for storage

Going through the elimination process challenged us. Deciding what to put a box in for a year was determined by asking, “Will I be happy to see this item in a year?” Mostly we said, “No.” As a person with “super-hoarder” genetics and a humble upbringing, it wasn’t easy to get rid of a lot of these items. Seriously how many relays, bits of wire, ends of boards and pieces of steel does one person need? In the end, it felt great to get rid of so many things. Also, the answer to the relays question is 2 of each will make you happy when you open the box…

I’m looking forward to taking the kids to experience new things and I am excited to work on new projects. As a Mechanical Engineer in Singapore I know that I will learn a lot. I’ll be working on new products with new people. I’ll also be assisting Matthew Ng, our Singapore Business Development Manager, with quoting automated equipment.

Traveling in Asia will be more accessible and a visit to LEGOLAND in Malaysia is definitely in the plans! Traveling to Japan is also of high interest. I have always been intrigued by Asia’s unique food and culture. We plan to visit the some of the pilgrimage trails and Buddhist temples, and Kristin is hoping to see the Great Wall of China.

None of this would be possible without Kristin’s support. She is an amazing partner! I am certainly glad that she has the same idea that getting rid of everything and moving to a foreign country is fun.