8 ways to jump-start your start-up at NTU

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Do entrepreneurs need a university education? After all, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of university. However, they spent much of their formative years in university, and, for some, made connections during this time that would be vital to their success. There is an even longer list of successful entrepreneurs, like Jack Ma, Elon Musk and Larry Page, who graduated from university with excellent grades, too.

I believe that university is useful for building skills and networks that will be helpful for building your future business. The good news is, there are plenty of opportunities in NTU that set you towards your goal.

Here are eight steps aspiring entrepreneurs in NTU can take to kickstart their dreams. Continue reading

My thoughts this National Day

2E3A8348I spoke at this year’s National Day Observance Ceremony on 15 August at NTU. It was a timely occasion for me to share my thoughts on what it means to be Singaporean and how NTU can contribute to Singapore’s future.

Punching above our weight
Last Saturday was a historic day for Singapore and the world as Singaporeans erupted in joy and pride when 21-year-old Joseph Schooling took home the nation’s first Olympic gold medal. It certainly felt like we had all won the gold ourselves! Continue reading

I went to TED and this is what happened

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Not the fluffy, cotton-wool, snoozy kind of dreams. Big dreams. Bold dreams. Beautiful dreams. Dreams that will change the world.”

This was how Chris Anderson, TED Curator, sparked our imagination as a prelude to the TED2016 Conference. For five days and evenings in February, TEDsters from all over the world converged on Vancouver for the now legendary annual conference often described as the ultimate “brain spa”. With over 80 speakers and performers and more than 1,200 participants, the week was bursting with inspiration, imagination and ignition, and it did not disappoint! Continue reading

My Marco Polo adventures

China has always been on my travel bucket list. So when an opportunity came up to go on exchange with a university there, I was definitely not going to let it pass. In a regular meeting with my professor one day, he asked if I would like to go for a short exchange programme to study at Hefei University of Technology. For a split second, I thought he was kidding, so I jokingly said “yes”. Little did I know he was serious and three weeks after that meeting, I found myself boarding a plane to China.

As a first-time traveller in China, I experienced many new things during my exchange and also ran into a few hiccups.

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I climbed up to the school’s rooftop and was rewarded with this beautiful view.

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What’s buzzing at The Hive?

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I am very proud of our new learning hub, The Hive, and at its official opening last week, I shared in a speech my thoughts on why it is not just an eye-catching building but will soon become an icon of the future of learning.

Not your regular modular building stacked up like Lego bricks, it redefines university buildings with its unusual shape and use of space for learning in the 21st century.

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Why critical thinking matters

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As an undergraduate at NTU, I have found that critical thinking is encouraged in classroom discussions. In theory, the goal of critical thinking can be said to make you a devil’s advocate. No opinion or argument is flawless; you can and will, seemingly for its own sake, find fault with anything a person says. Of course, this sounds like a surefire way to gain unpopularity.

However, by moulding you into an independent thinker, critical thinking brings benefits that far outweigh its initial drawbacks.

Here are three reasons why critical thinking matters: Continue reading

Count on us, Mr Lee

It was a privilege to be invited to witness the special parliamentary session on Thursday to pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Some of the speeches by the ministers and Members of Parliament really moved me to tears.

As I listened to their reflections, I felt thankful that I wasn’t born into their generation at a time filled with immense changes, developments and even turmoil.

After the session, I stepped out into the Padang and took a good hard look at the city. This was what the late Mr Lee and his team built with blood and perspiration. It reminded me not to take our nation for granted. Others take hundreds of years to build a developed and First World country, but Singapore took only 50. She is indeed nothing short of a miracle. And yes, much of the credit goes to Mr Lee.

I feel proud to be a Singapore citizen and am determined to continue to build upon the foundations laid by Mr Lee. This was also what I expressed in my speech last Wednesday at the Lee Kuan Yew Memorial Ceremony held at NTU in his honour:

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It is with deep sorrow and sadness that I am speaking this afternoon.

Last Sunday evening, I felt led to make a trip to the Singapore General Hospital. I visited the Quad of SGH, a designated corner kindly set up by the hospital for members of the public to leave their well wishes for the now late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. In spite of the cold and rainy weather that evening, there were many from the crowd laying flowers and cards of well wishes. The peoples’ hope for Mr Lee to recover and join us in the coming Jubilee National Day celebrations warmed my heart. There and then, I wished that I could have met Mr Lee in the ward to convey my concern and well wishes to him in person. I knew it was impossible to do so; hence I whispered a simple prayer, hoping that he could hear it. Continue reading

Relax, don’t cram

Hello, everyone! First things first, here’s wishing you a Happy “Goat” Xi Fa Cai. Do excuse the bad pun, just wishing everyone a happy and good Year of the Sheep! It’s a new year and a new start – our chance to do better, keep our heads up and move ahead.

One of the biggest lessons I learnt at the School of Art, Design & Media (ADM) last semester is don’t cram all your studio modules into one semester. You will NEVER have the time to finish all of them. So a heads-up to my ADM juniors! 😀 But apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed the last semester, especially my Applied Drawing and Art History classes. They made learning all the more interesting.

During my lessons in Applied Drawing, we were taught to notice the smaller details and capture what we see in a different way. For example, sometimes when we draw an object, it can look a little weird. Try a different approach by drawing the “negative” shapes instead. By doing so, we capture the forms around the area, rather than just focusing on the object itself – another way to achieve the end goal. Continue reading

Something happened in year three

We cupped our ears and squinted our eyes; the horrendous din was reminiscent of a ghoulish scene from Dante’s Inferno

That’s what it felt like as my friends and I returned to NTU to do some admin work after our graduation in August. We looked at the freshmen in their camps and had this moment of sage-like wisdom: “Ah freshmen, how little they know…” Then it dawned on us: four years ago we were in those same freshmen camps.

Something happens as you transition from being a freshman to a sophomore (year two) then a junior (year three) and finally a senior student (year four).

Suddenly, what used to fascinate you as freshman or sophomore doesn’t intrigue you anymore. Other things become more interesting and you find that freshmen start to look at you like some wise, old person. Secretly, behind your wizened demeanour, you marvel at how they can stay up till 4am and not be absolutely burned out the next day. You are amazed at how they can shout and scream and run and still have so much energy. You are amazed at the muscle-ripping figures they have, and wonder whether you ever looked that ripped in your prime. Don’t look as if you don’t know what I mean (especially the guys)! By year three or four you probably started building a tummy pillow around your waist, which I’ve always had. Well, at least I maintained the rest of my figure.

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From undergrad to full prof

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This is an excerpt of a speech I delivered at NTU’s Academic Council Meeting on 28 August 2014, where I was installed as a full professor.

In 1992, a shy young man walked into Lecture Theatre 1 for his first lesson at NTU. After running around in the jungle with his M16 rifle for two and a half years, he wondered if he could cope with his studies as an engineering freshman. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life then. Well, that young man was me.

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