• Pioneer batch of graduands from the Public Policy and Global Affairs programme
• Honorary degrees conferred on Professor James Barber and Professor Helga Nowotny
Nearly 9,600 students will graduate from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) this year.
Although the outlook for Singapore’s economy remains cautious, NTU graduates continue to be in demand with employers, with 2 in 3 securing jobs before graduation.
The NTU 2017 Convocation starts today, presided by Singapore President and NTU Chancellor Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam. Also present at the opening ceremony is Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), Mr Ong Ye Kung.
More than 6,300 students will graduate with Bachelor’s degrees, and the rest with higher degrees in 19 Convocation ceremonies from today until 3 August.
NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said to the Class of 2017, “Despite the uncertain economic conditions, about 2 in 3 of our graduates this year have secured jobs before graduation. This shows the high standing of NTU graduates with employers. Although you have graduated, NTU will be your lifelong partner at the various stages of your career development in your learning journey. I am certain that our graduates will continue to be well-sought after by employers who know that NTU produces quality graduates ready to take on tomorrow’s challenges.”
NTU graduates well-received by employers
In an NTU preliminary survey of more than 5,000 graduands, 2 in 3 have already secured jobs before graduation.
Business and accountancy graduate Lawis Koh, 24, who has six internships under his belt, received five job offers, before choosing consumer Internet company Sea, one of Southeast Asia's biggest tech startups (formerly known as Garena).
On how his various internships have benefitted him, he said: “The work experience has been absolutely life-changing. I befriended and learnt from many people, all brilliant in their own right. The wide range of high impact projects that I was assigned to also gave me the chance to develop varied skills. As a result of their investment in me, I am now more confident, competent, and equipped with a stronger sense of purpose,” said Lawis whose internship companies included DBS and Rocket Internet.
Exemplary graduates of Class of 2017
There are 34 Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medalists and 12 Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award winners honoured this year.
The Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal is awarded to the top student in their respective programmes, while the Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award, named after NTU Board of Trustees Chairman Mr Koh Boon Hwee in honour of a $2.5 million gift in 2010, recognises outstanding students and the teachers who have made a difference in their learning journey.
This year, 71 students from the pioneer batch of Public Policy and Global Affairs programme will also graduate.
Pitt Wei Zhe, 26, the top student from this inaugural batch who is now working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he has benefitted from the rigorous curriculum as well as from his exchange and internship experience in South Korea and Beijing.
“NTU recognises that overseas exposure can benefit a student’s development, and has offered different programmes that match the interests of each student. Overseas exposure complements classroom examples with real-world experience and reveal perspectives that textbook solutions cannot show. It lets us learn about the issues that other countries face as well as appreciate the sheer tenacity of how Singapore adapts to challenges,” said Wei Zhe, a Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal winner.
Another graduate who benefitted from overseas exposure is Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP) valedictorian Kevin Seng, 26, who studied at University of California, Berkeley for a year as part of REP’s unique curriculum.
Kevin, now a project manager at Procter & Gamble, said, “Learning how to work with people is a skill that would always remain relevant. Thanks to NTU and REP, I was given the rare opportunity to interact and work with individuals from other countries while in the United States. To top it off, I had an internship in a plant near Boston. Looking back, I can't ask for a better experience to enrich myself with new perspectives.”
Biological sciences graduate Maharah Binte Abdul Mahid, 23, a Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award winner, is grateful to Ms Siti Nurbaya, her first research mentor in Republic Polytechnic and Assistant Professor Woo Wei Meng from NTU Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine for their guidance and support.
“During our freshman orientation week, the Dean of Science, Prof Ling San, told us that NTU was both a place to learn as well as where we find our direction in life. I could not agree more. The culture here made me feel like I had a second family and the professors motivated me to reach beyond what I thought I was ever capable of. This motivation has transcended into my personal life and has allowed me to achieve my best, including being honoured with the Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award. For this I am eternally grateful.”
Eminent scientists conferred honorary degrees
NTU also conferred honorary doctorate degrees on two leaders in science and the social sciences for outstanding contribution to their fields and to the university.
Professor James Barber received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science for his exceptional achievements in photosynthesis, and for his role in starting and nurturing the study of photosynthesis in NTU.
Currently the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry in Imperial College London, Professor Barber’s research has explained the likely mechanism of energy storage in Nature’s photosynthesis. This paved the way for future work in developing artificial photosynthesis technology, which can be applied in deriving more environmental-friendly energy sources such as solar fuels.
Joining NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering as a Visiting Professor in 2009 and appointed its Canon Visiting Professor from 2012, Professor Barber was instrumental in setting up NTU’s Solar Fuels Laboratory. This lab, a first in Asia, was set up in February 2011 with the objective of developing solar-driven technology that will be commercially viable. As Scientific Advisor of the lab, Professor Barber has led the team to publish many top papers. He also fostered interaction between NTU researchers and world-renowned scientists by organising the biennial NTU Artificial Photosynthesis workshops.
Professor Barber said, “Often, some things seem impossible but with hard work and focus, they become possible. This is how I feel about the achievements in my personal and professional life. My goal in science seemed to be impossible thirty years ago but finally it became possible. It also seemed impossible that I would receive an honorary doctorate from the highest ranked university in Asia which is now positioned 11th in the world.”
Thanking the university and his colleagues in the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor Barber added, “I am proud of my interactions as a Visiting Professor to NTU and of the wonderful, constructive interactions with my young and talented colleagues and their students. Thank you for the honorary degree and for making the impossible become possible.”
Another honorary degree recipient is Professor Helga Nowotny, who was conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters for her outstanding contribution to academia, public service and for her role in developing NTU’s College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences.
A Professor Emerita of Science and Technology Studies, ETH Zurich, Professor Nowotny has helped to shape the European research landscape through various leadership positions. This includes being the former President of the European Research Council and as the current Chair of the European Research Area Council Forum Austria, which advises the Austrian Minister responsible for science and research.
Professor Nowotny has advised NTU on the development of its social sciences curriculum since 2008, and has been the Nanyang Visiting Professor at NTU since 2016, contributing significantly to interdisciplinary research, especially in Science and Technology Studies. Today, NTU’s College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences focuses on interdisciplinary learning and provides a curriculum rich in both breadth and depth. It also emphasises on communicative competence and promotes cross-cultural understanding.
“It is with great joy and humbleness that I accept the honour of this award,” said Professor Nowotny. “Personally and professionally, it means much to me to receive an honorary doctorate in this leading part of the world. Having had the privilege to see NTU grow over the years in international status and scientific visibility, it provides me with even more motivation to contribute further to this very advanced scientific, technological and educational enterprise.”
Professor Nowotny also helped to bring to Singapore the Falling Walls Lab, an international forum and competition where young talents aim to break down barriers with ideas and initiatives. With Professor Nowotny leading a distinguished jury, the inaugural Falling Walls Lab Singapore was hosted by NTU last year, and two Singapore representatives joined the International Final in Berlin.
NTU Convocation 2017 by numbers:
• 9,595* graduates in total
• 6,307 Bachelor’s Degree graduates and 3,341 Higher Degree graduates
• 71 pioneer graduates from the Public Policy and Global Affairs programme
• 195 Bachelor’s graduates receiving double degrees
• 649 graduates receiving Doctorate degrees
• 2,692 graduates receiving Master's degrees
*Consists of bachelor’s degree graduates, higher degree graduates and 53 Renaissance Engineering Programme graduates who are each awarded a bachelor and Master’s degree
Ang Hui Min
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, was set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
NTU has been named the world’s best young university (under 50 years old) by QS for the past four consecutive years, and the world’s fastest rising young university by Times Higher Education in 2015. NTU’s main campus is frequently named among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world. NTU also has a second campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg