Jia Wei Chew

In Chew Jia Wei’s opinion, the way to build a sustainable welfare system is not just through state-sponsored handouts, but in ensuring that marginalised and disadvantaged individuals are provided with opportunities to be self-sufficient.

The Nanyang Technological University’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering assistant professor and Singapore Membrane Technology Center cluster leader is actively involved in Tasek Jurong, a non-profit that helps social enterprises in hiring individuals who will otherwise have difficulty supporting themselves and their families. One of the project’s thriving start-ups is Aestiwood, a company that markets and designs bespoke wooden furniture. It counts ex-convicts and out-of-work senior citizens among its staff.

When not doing her part for the community, she spends her time researching cost-effective engineering solutions to sustainability challenges related to water supply and minimising the carbon footprint. For her commendable efforts on both fronts, Chew was one of the five recipients of the Singapore Youth Award this year, the nation’s highest accolade for youths.