A new book by the pioneer batch of graduates from the Nanyang Technological Institute (NTI), the predecessor of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), seeks to inspire a new generation of young people to study engineering, a discipline key to Singapore's continued progress.
One Degree, Many Choices, which features a foreword by President Tony Tan, illustrates the versatility of an engineering degree by showcasing the diverse career paths of the NTI's pioneer Engineering Class of 85. "The book is unique because it is not about one person but a cohort," wrote President Tony Tan. NTI became Nanyang Technological University in 1991. The book, which traces these pioneer graduates' achievements in diverse industries spanning engineering, finance, life sciences, academia and public service, will be launched by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on 2 May 2012.
Book hopes to make engineering the 'new cool'
The life stories of the pioneer Class of 85 mirror the economic development of Singapore over the past 25 years. Their detailed contribution in virtually every industry that is vital to Singapore's development has been captured in the book. A clear thread that runs through it is that an engineering education, coupled with business and leadership skills, is a springboard to success.
The book committee behind One Degree, Many Choices comprises Chairman Mr Liu Fook Thim and eight fellow pioneers. "The book is kept to about 200 pages and is written in an easy-to-read style to attract the late teens," said Mr Liu. "We hope our life stories will show them the versatility of an engineering education and encourage them to take it up. We also want to create awareness among parents and teachers who are influential in shaping young people's attitudes to engineering."
NTI Founding President, Professor Cham Tao Soon observed in the book that, "There is a need to remind people of the important role that engineers play."
In his review of the book, Education Minister, Mr Heng Swee Keat wrote, "This book is an excellent work that provides a human face to Singapore's economic development story. The rewarding careers and contributions of a generation of engineers underscore the importance of building a solid foundation for Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics in our Singapore education system."
A key mover behind the book is NTU Alumni Club President Mr R. Sinnakaruppan who sits on the board of several tertiary institutions. Mindful of the repercussions from the dimming allure of engineering, he said, "This discipline is crucial to Singapore's economy. Hence there is a pressing need to inspire younger generations to take up engineering - the book's raison d'être."
One Degree, Many Choices also contains insights from Mr Koh Boon Hwee, Chairman of the NTU Board of Trustees, and NTU President, Professor Bertil Andersson on the future of engineering education. "Engineering now is more inter-disciplinary within itself," said Mr Koh, a mechanical engineer by training. He has had a ringside view of the changes in the engineering field over the years as Managing Director of Hewlett Packard Singapore as well as chairing SingTel, SIA, DBS Bank and now Yeo Hiap Seng.
Clean water, health care and energy are among the greatest challenges facing society today, and engineering can make significant and lasting contributions that will help address these problems and improve quality of life.
Seen from this perspective, Professor Andersson says, "Engineering education has to broaden. Students need to go beyond hydraulics, electrical circuits and applied mathematics to study other things such as communication, social behaviour, environment and biology. NTU has all these elements under one roof." NTU's College of Engineering today is one of the largest engineering colleges in the world, with six schools and more than 14,400 undergraduate and graduate students.
Book launch to kick-off student leadership fund
One Degree, Many Choices, co-published by the NTU Alumni Club and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, will be launched by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, at the NTU Alumni Club on Wednesday evening, 2 May 2012. DPM Teo is currently the most senior politician in Singapore with an engineering background. The event is part of a broader initiative to encourage engineering education in Singapore.
"We hope to bring together organisations that compete based on their engineering talents to join in this initiative," said Mr Sinnakaruppan. "These organisations appreciate the need to plant the seeds now to provide a good stream of engineers to work in the industry. The need to develop engineering talent resonates with them."
EDB is one of the organisations who have been actively promoting engineering education in Singapore. EDB Chairman, Mr Leo Yip, who reviewed the book said, "An inspirational book that captures many personal experiences of engineers who made a difference. Engineers today have many diverse and exciting opportunities in Singapore's globally competitive economy to create, innovate and impact society positively."
Such organisations can contribute to a new initiative to raise $500,000 to start-up the NTU Student Leadership Fund. The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support for the development of student leaders at NTU in general, and engineering undergraduates in particular. This includes, but is not restricted to, sending student leaders to leadership development programmes both local and overseas; representing NTU at student events both local and overseas that will give them the exposure; and financing community projects initiated by the student leaders that will benefit the poor and the underprivileged.
Principals of JC2/Year 6 schools have been invited to the launch where they will be presented copies of the book for their science students - the target readers. "We hope our efforts will help to attract a fair share of the nation's best and brightest to engineering," said Mr Sinnakaruppan.
Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 6687
About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences. In 2013, NTU will enrol the first batch of students at its new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, which is set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to four world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).
A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore's science and tech hub, one-north, and is setting up a third campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg
About the NTU Alumni Club
Headquartered at the clubhouse in One North, Buona Vista, the NTU Alumni Club facilitates business networking and continuing education for graduates within its fraternity. Widely recognised for its pioneering roles in technology advancements and innovative ventures, the NTU and its alumni play a fundamental role of developing a generation that will serve the nation well into the 21st century and beyond.
For more information, visit www.ntualumni.org.sg