She works on ship she helped to design
Navy specialist proud to have given input for vessel designed and built in Singapore
After finishing her O levels, she wondered how to finance her tertiary education without adding strain on her welder father, the family's sole breadwinner.
A pamphlet from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) provided the answer for Ms Iris Leow, now 37.
She signed on as a communications specialist and studied information technology at Temasek Polytechnic.
Two decades on, the Military Expert 2 (ME2)is not only one of four female members of the pioneer crew on the Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) Independence, she also helped in its system design.
LMV Independence will be the first of eight LMVs to be officially commissioned on Friday, which is the RSN's 50th anniversary.
The ships are the first in almost 20 years to be wholly designed and built in Singapore.
Drawing on her 10 years' experience on a patrol vessel, ME2 Leow designed the LMV's network centric system, which enhances communication with other units.
She said: "As a communicator on board vessels, there were times when I wondered why certain controls were positioned that way or why certain systems worked like that. When I found out that there was a team being gathered to design the LMV, I expressed my interest in joining it."
Lieutenant-Colonel Chew Chun Chau, head of the LMV project office, said: "Her 10 years on the patrol vessel RSS Independence and her experience in being part of the pioneer crew for the upgraded missile corvettes convinced me to get her on board."
Since its launch in July 2015, LMV Independence has been tested for operational readiness.
The 80m-long vessel can reach more than 27 knots and last 14 days at sea without stopping to refuel.
ME2 Leow also made design changes to the LMV's communications console, which is housed in its Integrated Command Centre.
More intuitive buttons and a more colourful interface help ease the learning process for trainees on the vessel.
She also helped to shorten the time needed to check and patch the ship's systems. Previously, crew members had to go around the ship to do so, taking about two hours. Now, the task can be completed in 30 minutes through the system in the command centre.
Lt-Col Chew added: "Her contributions to the LMV design has set the standard for future ships to follow."
Last year, families of the pioneer crew were given a tour of the ship on the anniversary of its launch and ME2 Leow brought along her now three-year-old son and husband, whom she had met on the RSS Independence.
She said: "I had a lot of fun and felt proud showing my loved ones the result of years of hard work. Seeing the ship in front of me, it feels like a dream come true."