Engineering Value to Common Everyday Problems

“When a smartphone that costs less than $300 to manufacture sells for $1,000, is all of the $700 true profit?”  That was a question that Ng Jun Hao, a Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) Engineering alumni, constantly asked himself.

To find the answer, Jun Hao started his journey by enrolling in NYP’s Diploma in Biomedical Engineering in 2007, where he learnt how to engineer devices that range from lancets to hip and heart implants. His interest was further ignited by the fact that many of today’s engineering constraints are due to the properties of materials.

After graduating in 2009 and serving his National Service, Jun Hao embarked on a journey to understand how materials work. By studying Materials Science and Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in 2011, he sharpened his engineering knowledge and skills even further. For example, he learnt how Carbon, a single element, exists in many different forms, ranging from graphite, diamond, fullerite, Carbon nanotubes (CNT) to graphene. Some of them even have the potential to revolutionise battery technologies. He even learnt that Carbon constitutes around 18% of the mass of an average human weighing 70 kilograms.

From his experience at NTU, he learnt the importance of managing the cost of materials. Upon graduation, he began his career as a Professional Buyer, specialising in Facilities Management at Tetra Pak, where he manages a portfolio of €2.6 million in annual expenditure. This newfound responsibility gave him more incentive to understand how to manage costs, and value-add to products and services.

Jun Hao applied his knowledge when he was tasked with revamping an existing 400 lockers system. With his skill sets, he was able to create a more space-efficient design to meet the requirements, while accommodating 20% more lockers within the space constraint. At the same time, his knowledge in materials allowed him to recommend the right material fit for the purpose and lower overall costs.

So does the $700 discrepancy in the price of a smartphone and its $300 bill of materials translate into pure profit? Jun Hao finally has the answer.

He said, “The cost of a smartphone or any product is more than just the material and manufacturing cost. Other less commonly mentioned costs would include research and development cost, logistics/shipping cost, inventory cost, marketing cost, support function staff and profit margin by all the parties involved. And other than costs, I learnt to also consider pricing strategy, positioning, supply and demand and market perception, all of which are factors that companies consider before deciding on the final retail price.

“Moving forward, I aim to continue my journey to engineer value to common everyday problems. At the end of the day, engineering has given me the opportunity to land the career of my choice.

“To end off, I would like to recall a saying: ‘Luck is when preparation meets opportunity’. Engineering has prepared me for the world. So what are you waiting for?”

  • Name: Ng Jun Hao

  • Polytechnic: NYP

  • Course: Biomedical Engineering

  • Year of Study: Graduated (Class of 2009)

Former Secondary School: Xinmin Secondary School


  • Lee Kuan Yew award

  • BD Medical Gold Medal

  • Nanyang Scholarship