But growing up, Angelene Koid Sook Lee lacked the resources and support she needed to excel in her studies.
Owning a small business which involved collecting and selling recycled items, her family often struggled to put food on the table.
Despite the hardships, she persisted – never losing sight of the prize. Today, the 31-year-old is the proud recipient of The Critical Communication Association (TCCA) Young Engineer of the Year Award 2019.
“My parents aren’t highly educated and they were busy with their business, so they couldn’t help me much with my studies.
“Luckily for me, I spent a year in Remove Class which helped me cope.”
She eventually scored As in Chemistry and Physics and enrolled in INTI International College Penang, where she pursued a Electrical & Electronic Engineering degree. She graduated with first-class honours.
Receiving the globally recognised TCCA award, she said, brought her back to the days when becoming an engineer seemed like such a distant dream.
Currently a senior software engineer at Motorola Solutions Malaysia, her major projects include developing a two-way radio for mission-critical situations.
A two-way radio is a handheld device or transceiver that can both transmit and receive voice communication.
When deadly floods hit north-western Wisconsin, the United States in July 2016, a deputy sheriff escaped with his wet portable radio, developed by Koid, still working.
“While people often refer to these devices as ‘walkie-talkies’, the two-way radio is a more durable, reliable and secure communication device that is crucial during disasters and emergencies,” she added.
She also led a team to develop seamless cross-country communication between Norway and Sweden, besides creating devices for police officers to use from whichever country they are based in.
What sparked her interest to develop such devices was a vivid memory of watching experts demonstrate a drop test and water resilience test on their two-way radios for engineering students in her college.
“I was so amazed and immediately wanted to be part of their engineering team to work on this technology.
“This award is a huge recognition for my contributions to the mission-critical communications industry and it motivates me to strive even harder.
“It has also encouraged me to continue inspiring female students to join the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industry and to embrace emerging technologies including AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet-of-Things) that will support the future growth and security of this industry,” she said.