My 3.5 years in SUTD was epic to say the least – a truly ineffable experience! It is a privilege and honour to be an SUTD Pioneer. Not only do we get to leave behind our legacy, we get to live it by seeing the remarkable progress SUTD has made since its inception and our matriculation. Although I’m envious of the radical new opportunities that the current batches get to enjoy with new academic modules, specialisation tracks, double degree programmes and exciting exchange programmes; they’ll never get to experience the novelty and thrill of being Pioneers.
Aside from a world-class education in the ISTD Pillar, SUTD has unconditionally supported my peers and I in a myriad of unorthodox ventures – from setting up a beer brewery student club during our first year to converting our final year capstone project into a start-up by providing industrial and academic expertise in addition to monetary support and incubation facilities. We owe it all to SUTD!
SUTD equipped me with a solid technical foundation and practical application of concepts, allowing me to put them to use when I joined GovTech to develop citizen-centric products. In the increasingly complex world we live in today, multi-faceted problems can no longer be solved within a single area of expertise. SUTD has helped me broaden my skillsets in collaborating with cross functional teams, understanding and solving complex problems as well as exploring innovative approaches to meet user needs. Working on multi-disciplinary projects at SUTD and the study of the arts and humanities have provided me with multi-perspective analytical skills.
Apart from deep technical skills, at SUTD, I developed a keen understanding of a universal design methodology that is necessary to tackle large, complex and abstract design problems. We were trained not to shy away from interdisciplinary problems but embrace them. It has enabled me to traverse through leading institutions both in business (Citibank) and academia (Cambridge University). It is this compatibility of SUTD’s education with the needs of real businesses that the SUTD pedagogy shines.
The technical emphasis of education at SUTD allowed me to pursue a wide variety of deeply challenging problems, participating in projects and research with likeminded peers and world class faculty. The creative freedom I was granted at SUTD allowed me to develop my personal interests, and discover career options that I had not previously considered. The skills I developed over my 3.5 years at SUTD have allowed me to continue contributing to cutting edge research at Google AI, pursuing problems that are difficult yet important.
I would like to highlight three aspects of SUTD. First, I found the first three common semesters to be really valuable as it gives you the space to explore various fields before deciding on one. I eventually chose ISTD as my interests lie in computer science. The modules in ISTD were rigorous and I really enjoyed the project work. Second, it is mandatory for all students to take seven Humanities Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) modules. I gained different perspectives through the various readings in the HASS modules and I found that to be really helpful for my personal and professional development. Lastly, SUTD caters time for your co-curricular activities and you are free to use that time to pursue your passion. It is the combination of these three aspects that really defined my SUTD experience.
What really stands out about SUTD’s postgraduate program is that not only were the classes enjoyable but also our professors were passionate about teaching and preparing us for a global connection with other well-known researchers to grow our career. My best moments were in the broad discussion with my unforgettable international classmates from all around the world.
I have always loved teaching and I joined SUTD with the hope that I will eventually have the right skills to pursue an academic career. What draws me into choosing SUTD at first is the idea that students are first nurtured during their Freshmore year to learn various principal concepts in mathematics and science before proceeding into a more focused field in the pillar years. I absolutely found this to be a brilliant arrangement. The curriculum presents these fundamentals in such an intriguing way that allow me to see and appreciate the beauty of various theories. It is important to take the time to do this as it has tremendously helped me in the subsequent pillar years in ISTD and beyond, even throughout my graduate studies where we are required to dive into and solve various real-life challenges. Armed with solid understanding in both the technical and application aspects, I am able to articulate and teach the knowledge I have learned to others.
The interdisciplinary research environment at SUTD allowed me to easily find and discuss with experts in fields related to my research topics. Discussing with them made me more confident about the significance and impact of the research topics that I chose. The most interesting moments were discussing the results of my research or papers from top conferences with my supervisor, Prof. David Yau. His questions were interesting and challenging, these sets of questions related to the results always gave me eye-opening experiences. His amazing examples in discussion helped me realize the similarity between doing research and solving problems in real life. Last but not least, the enthusiastic help from admin staff made me feel SUTD is like my second home.
SUTD gave me a lot of space to pursue what interested me. In a short span of 3.5 years, I have led a rich life that stretched me in many different dimensions. I took part in sports, founded a small team to compete in Aquathlon and developed my passion in coding which I could use to solve real problems. The school gave me the space and even supported me significantly to compete in Hackathons and get research exposure from around the world. Most of the friends and faculty I have met are believers — that’s what makes the difference. We believe in our potential, and believe that we have the responsibility to make the world better, be it by design or by whatever craft we are proud of. More importantly, I met great friends and mentors that I will remember for life.
Now that I have graduated, I realise that my SUTD experience combined the realism of life with the rigour of traditional University Education. As we build and prototype things, and champion our own initiatives, we were allowed to thrive or fail on our own terms, but within the sandbox that is SUTD. Yet, amidst the scrappiness of what I was doing, I was able to learn from some of the best professors I have seen, who shared their expertise with a rare passion and patience. With their help, I manage to complete a rigorous, wide-ranging technical education in Computer Science. The kind of education that leaves you a little exhausted, but in awe, and wanting more.
Believe it or not, I have ever entertained the idea of not going to University, back in 2017 when I caught the Start-up bug. But I am so happy to have joined SUTD. For the past 3.5 years, I have grown tremendously – with my feet planted on firm technical foundation, and my eyes on the stars.