Engineers who are gatekeepers of the heat

Commencement 2010 Special

COOL COMPANY: Joseph Ng (centre, seated) with (from left) Thio Yu Chong, Gracia Sim, Jeremy Han and Mark Aaron Chan.

THE REWARDS are high for keeping the gates of a company open to R&D. Mr Joseph Ng Su Hui has put his skills, knowledge and business sense together to form a company called Gatekeeper Laboratories - a company dealing in R&D and commercializing of technologies to keep the heat at bay.

That was in September 2009 when he was in his final year at the NUS Faculty of Engineering. Now, with a freshly minted B Eng degree in his pocket, Joseph has under his employment, two other engineers in Mechanical Engineering -- Mr Thio Yu Chong and Dr Mark Aaron Chan. The two are also from Class of 2010 -- Mark just bagged his PhD while Yu Chong graduated with 1st Class Honours for his B Eng.

Said Joseph, Gatekeeper's founder and managing director, "There is a growing need for higher end coolers for computers. But really, there are many areas which would need more effective cooling - for example in areas such as solar energy and LED (light-emitting diodes) which use less electricity but generate a great deal of heat."

Joseph holding their prototype cooling system, which is more compact then those currently available (on the table).

The team has developed a prototype for dispersing heat that is far more compact than those currently available and significantly out performs them -- by 15 per cent. As their invention (with two US patents pending) is much less bulky than existing ones, more can be inserted into an equipment for greater cooling.

Joseph has done his market research. "We are targeting the IT industry first as this is a large user area and hence results are highly visible. Once people know how effective our R&D is, they will be approaching us to customize our R&D according to their needs."

He reckons that a company dealing with R&D will have more potential and flexibility than one which engineers and manufactures products. When Joseph first established Gatekeepers, he approached Spring Singapore for funding. The prototype that they have developed was convincing enough to land them a cool sum of close to half a million from Spring Singapore. Two private companies and a venture capitalist have also thought it worthwhile to pump in almost another half a million.

Joseph's father, Prof Ng Kim Choon who teaches at the Faculty, has been very encouraging. Said Joseph, "Unlike most fathers, he did not mind that I took the uncertainty of starting a business. He didn't advise me to take up a regular job with a regular income. In fact, he has been very inspiring," said Joseph.

Joseph also takes pride in his multi-disciplinary team -- his marketing manager, Jeremy Han is a student from the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences -- and his administrative manager, Gracia Sim is with NUS BIZ.

Both Mark and Yu Chong were "head-hunted" by Joseph and have no regrets joining the startup with its cozy office at the Faculty of Engineeringís Incubation Centre. Said Mark who is from Philippines, "I didnít want a routine job. This is something new and I love what I am doing. In the long run though, I would probably like to return to Philippines and start an engineering business of my own there. I would like to make a difference in my homeland which has a tradition of being middlemen but not entrepreneurs."

Yu Chong said the job at Gatekeeper fits him to a T. "Designing systems or products and implementing the design is what gives me the biggest thrill," he quipped.

Now, that's engineering!

CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT? Call the Gatekeeper.