• 7 in 10 graduands have job offers before graduation
• Pioneer batch of graduands from three programmes
• Honorary degrees conferred on world-renowned scientist Professor Sir David Payne and master potter Mr Iskandar Jalil
The Class of 2016 marks the 25th batch of graduates from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) since NTU was inaugurated as a university in 1991.
This year sees the pioneer batch of graduands from three programmes - the Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP), the University Scholars Programme (USP), as well as the History programme.
The NTU 2016 Convocation kicks off today, presided by the Pro-Chancellor, Dr Wee Cho Yaw, UOB Chairman Emeritus. Also present is Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), Mr Ong Ye Kung.
Over 9,000 graduands will receive their bachelor’s and higher degrees in 18 Convocation ceremonies from today until 2 August.
NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said, “This year’s Convocation is particularly special as NTU celebrates its 25th Anniversary and the Class of 2016 is our 25th cohort of graduates. NTU is celebrating its silver jubilee in service to Singapore.
“From a teaching university in 1991, NTU has rapidly progressed to become a globally recognised research-intensive university today, ranking 13th internationally and first among the world’s young universities.”
Prof Andersson paid tribute to NTU’s predecessor institutions, Nanyang University and Nanyang Technological Institute and the contributions the graduates have made to NTU and Singapore. Today, NTU has more than 200,000 alumni.
Pioneer batch of REP, USP and History graduates
NTU’s signature Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP) saw its first batch of 33 students graduate this morning. Launched in 2011, the programme blends engineering, science, business, technology management and humanities, awarding a Bachelor of Engineering Science and a Master of Science in Technology Management in just 4.5 years.
Now Singapore’s No. 1 engineering programme amongst top A Level holders, students are drawn by the global outlook it offers, with one year spent overseas studying in NTU’s partner universities such as the University of California, Berkeley (USA), Imperial College London or Northwestern University.
Top companies which welcomed REP graduates include Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, DSO National Laboratories, Shell, SingTel, SIA and technology giant Seagate.
Other REP graduates such as Ms May Lim chose to carve out a path in entrepreneurship. May, who has won prizes in nine competitions she had taken part in and is a Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award winner, will be co-founding a data analytics firm.
She said, “My REP education provided a holistic and rigorous development, as well as many great learning experiences. It helped me appreciate why and how things are done in different engineering and business environments, and inspired me to dream bigger and think deeper. With the right purpose and people, I believe my entrepreneurship journey will prove to be a fruitful one.”
Fifty graduates from the first batch of the University Scholars Programme (USP) also received their bachelor’s degrees this year. Started in 2012, USP has attracted many top students with its offer of a multi-disciplinary programme and opportunities for overseas exchange in top universities.
The programme was revamped earlier this year, enabling scholars to go on a fully-sponsored semester at the University of Pennsylvania or Bryn Mawr College in the United States, or the Australian National University.
USP graduate Ms Fiona Lam, who clinched both a Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal and Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award, said, “USP gave students a lot of autonomy and leeway for creativity in how we wanted to steer the programme.
“Whether it is planning our overseas study trip from scratch, or creating publicity materials to reach out to potential USP applicants, or coming up with our own student interest clubs, I had a lot of fun and learnt plenty from my peers and professors. After junior college, I had the chance to choose between USP and other more established, similar programmes at other universities, but my decision to go to NTU USP is undoubtedly one of the best choices I have made.”
For Ms S Supraja, the USP experience was an eye-opener. She said, “I am an engineering student, but USP exposed me to a vast spectrum of fields such as philosophy, business, art history, linguistics, astronomy, literature, geography and economics. This in-depth experience has moulded me into a holistic thinker. I enjoyed how the subjects were designed to involve solving of real-life issues, such that now I am able to appreciate every aspect of life.”
Mr Dinesh Prem Nair, the top History graduate this year, said, “As Singapore turns 51 and embarks on a new chapter, this is certainly an exciting time to be graduating as part of NTU’s inaugural batch of History majors. Reading History at NTU has equipped me with immensely useful skills such as analytical skills, writing skills and new ways to understand and solve issues. The deep reservoir of historical knowledge that I have gained from this engaging programme has also prepared me well for my career, enhancing my understanding about local and global issues and developments.”
NTU graduates well sought after by employers
In a preliminary survey of more than 5,000 graduands, almost 7 in 10 have already secured jobs before graduation.
Engineering graduate Mr A Saravanan received five job offers and is now working as a software engineering analyst at the public-listed consulting firm Accenture.
He said, “NTU has equipped me with a broad-based education, which has enabled me to approach projects with wider and better understanding. Another valuable experience was my internship at the US Air Force Academy, where I worked alongside cadets from US, France and Canada on programming tasks.”
Saravanan is not the only one to benefit from an internship. About 11 per cent of those surveyed have been employed by their internship companies, and almost 18 per cent received job offers from where they previously interned.
Mr Liew Xun, a business graduate, is back working in equity sales at his internship company UBS, the Swiss global finance services firm. Armed with three other internship experiences in the finance field, he said, “Relevant experience helps one to stand out among other job applicants. Other than knowledge, NTU has also given me many networking opportunities, and developed my soft skills, such as time management and problem-solving.”
Honorary degrees conferred on leaders in science and art
NTU also conferred honorary doctorate degrees on two leaders in science and art for significant contribution to their fields.
Professor Sir David Payne received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Engineering for his revolutionary work in optoelectronics, an essential field in modern telecommunications.
A world-renowned scientist from the University of Southampton and the Director of the university’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), Professor Payne and his team pioneered a new form of optical amplifier in the 1980s which enabled the rapid development of the Internet as we know it today.
As a visiting professor at NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, he proposed the setting up of the Research Centre of Excellence in Advanced Photonics Technologies. His efforts in galvanising the participation of various agencies and in securing funding were instrumental in the establishment of South-east Asia’s first high-tech fibre optic research manufacturing facility at NTU.
Professor Payne also worked closely with NTU faculty to set up the Photonics Institute (TPI) and Centre for Optical Fibre Technology (COFT). These were critical in building Singapore’s capabilities in photonics and optics research. His involvement in TPI and COFT helped to raise their awareness and attracted the interest of international collaborators.
Professor Payne said, “Working with NTU, the leading young university in Asia, is a rewarding and breath-taking experience. Receiving the honorary doctorate is a delight because this honour is a reflection of all those in the Photonics Institute who have helped create a global institute in such a short time. Photonics in Singapore is now truly on the map. Moving on, NTU strives to do even better and if I can assist in developing its global influence, it will be an even greater privilege.”
Another honorary degree recipient is Singapore’s master potter and ceramicist Mr Iskandar Jalil. He was conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters for his accomplishments in pottery and his meritorious service in education.
Mr Iskandar joined the Teachers Training College (a predecessor of the National Institute of Education) to train as a mathematics and science teacher in 1960, his first of many future connections to NTU. Later on, he took up two Colombo Plan Scholarships, one to study textile weaving and spinning, and the other to study Ceramics Engineering in Japan, which marked the start of his lifelong journey with pottery, education and a cultural relationship with Japan.
Since the 1970s, Mr Iskandar’s creations have graced many museums and public spaces, and have been included in the collections of dignitaries such as former Singapore President Wee Kim Wee, former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the Sultan of Brunei, former American President George Bush, the former Governor of Hong Kong, and the Istana Presidential Art Collection Singapore.
Mr Iskandar said, “This honorary doctorate comes as a wonderful surprise. I have little desire to secure awards or titles, but I know and appreciate what a great honour this is, and I am deeply moved and humbled by this conferment by NTU. I also feel very encouraged as it means that institutions are becoming more aware of pottery art and its development. It is reassuring to know that there will be support for the next generation of potters and for my students.”
Mr Iskandar has groomed and mentored many young and successful artists through teaching at various institutions. He also played a key role in setting up pottery kiln facilities and workshops for groups such as the Singapore Association for Paraplegics, the Jalan Bahar Clay Studios and Malay Heritage Centre in Kampong Glam. He has also supported students on ceramic art expeditions and cultural immersion programmes overseas to deepen their learning.
The NTU honorary degree adds to a growing list of honours and accolades that Mr Iskandar has received during his storied career, including the Singapore Cultural Medallion, Public Service Star (BBM), and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, conferred by the Emperor of Japan.
NTU Convocation 2016 by numbers:
• 9107* graduates in total
• 6002 Bachelor’s Degree graduates and 3072 Higher Degree graduates
• 33 pioneer graduates from the dual-degree Renaissance Engineering Programme
• 50 pioneer graduates from the University Scholars Programme
• 60 pioneer graduates from the History programme
• 207 Bachelor’s graduates receiving double degrees
• 621 graduates receiving Doctorate degrees
• 2451 graduates receiving Master's degrees
*Consists of bachelor’s degree graduates, higher degree graduates and 33 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
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, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, 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).
Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world’s top young university for the last two years running. The University’s main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg