National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
Q: Could you please describe your current work?
Yonatan: I am currently working as a Site Control Engineer for CTCI, a Taiwanese company which serves as a global engineering services provider. CTCI is active on the international power, hydrocarbon, environmental, transportation and industrial markets. I am currently responsible for the construction planning of a coal-fired power plant in Vietnam. I have to monitor the project and coordinate the schedule interface with project managers and super intendents from different construction disciplines. I am working with engineers from several countries, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. It is a very interesting, but also quite demanding project as I have to ensure that the project’s key milestones can be achieved. Actually, before I joined CTCI, I had the chance to work with a local contracting company that was building the Taipei Performing Arts Centre designed by David Gianotten and Rem Koolhaas at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). That was certainly one of the most exciting construction projects that a young engineer could dream of.
Q: What were your reasons to come to Taiwan for study?
Yonatan: Before I came here, I hadn’t heard much about Taiwan. But when I was searching for universities for my Master’s, I noticed that quite a few Taiwanese universities show in the QS ranking. Also, I was told by alumni from my university that Taiwan was a good place for study, offering high quality of education, many international programs, and also scholarships. I also heard that Taiwan was a very safe place and has a good standard of living. And I wanted to become proficient in Chinese, because I think that Chinese will become as important as English in the future.
I am very grateful that I was offered a scholarship which allowed me to gain international experience on the Taiwan Tech campus with its many international students. I also made use of the offer to take beginners’ classes in Mandarin at Taiwan Tech, and then continued with intensive evening courses at National Taiwan Normal University. (Remark: NTNU is one of the partners within the Taiwan Universities Alliance). I thought that Mandarin skills would open up more job opportunities, and I would be able to communicate with locals at work.
Q: You gained a Master degree in Civil Engineering at Taiwan Tech. What were your experiences during your studies?
Yonatan: It was quite challenging in the beginning, because I did not have any idea on the research project that was supposed to do. So, when I first met my professor and he proposed a topic related to AI, I was quite shocked because this was entirely new to me. So, I studied very hard, and luckily, I could rely on the excellent research resources and on a very supportive environment. Not only my lab mates helped me a lot, I also found the professors at Taiwan Tech very approachable and down-to earth. They really care about their students, and even joined lab gatherings or other student events.
Q: Why did you decide to continue your career in Taiwan after you graduated from Taiwan Tech?
Yonatan: I wanted to gain work experience before returning to Indonesia. Although the construction industry is not the main pillar of the Taiwan’s economy, the country does have an attractive job market for construction engineers with quite a few international players and several large-scale construction projects, for example in the energy sector. I have the chance to gain international experience in my field, there is a lot that I can learn in Taiwan.
Q: What kind of advice would you like to give to international students who consider to come to Taiwan Tech for a Master’s degree?
Yonatan: I think that is very important to have an idea about the kind of research they want to do, and then look for a potential supervisor at Taiwan Tech. I didn’t do that, and was quite overwhelmed in the beginning, when I had to do a project that I was not really prepared for. And if you are clear about your research interests in advance, you can also find out about funding, as many professors have their own budget for scholarships. Also, I recommend to learn some basic Chinese before coming here. That helps, although the Taiwanese students, and people in general, are very helpful. But, all in all, you don’t need to think too much before coming to Taiwan. Just come, Taiwan is a good country!
Q: What are your career plans for the future?
Yonatan: In the near future, I would like to gather more experience with managing big construction projects. I want to participate at least in two or three more projects to understand how large companies like CTCI work. But, eventually, I want to go back to Indonesia, and possibly, set up my own business. Although Indonesia is still a developing country, it is a big country and has a lot of potential. I expect the energy and construction sector to expand rapidly. There will be many possibilities to bring back my knowledge and experiences to Indonesia, so that I can make contributions to my country and help my people.