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


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

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

Why critical thinking matters


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

From undergrad to full prof

OAS Academic Council Meeting n Professor Installation Ceremony 075pa
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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NTU President gives his thoughts on university education


I have been in Singapore for seven years and there’s one thing that never fails to amaze me. Singaporeans are passionate about education, especially the education of their children. That’s a good thing. Singaporeans should be happy that they are well served by an education system that is simply world-class.

As I am a beneficiary of education myself, I believe in and appreciate the value of education. I’m the only one among my relatives with a degree. When I was young, my parents never encouraged me to study. I did it myself.

Singaporeans should be proud to have two world ranked universities here, NTU and NUS. I am asked everywhere I go at various international conferences the reasons for NTU’s rapid growth. It is precisely because of the Singapore Government’s belief and investment in universities that a young university like NTU can make big leaps internationally in such a short time.  Continue reading

Do it, don’t regret it

I’m in a reflective mood. As a member of the graduating Class of 2014, seeing a chapter of my life come to a close gives me pause to reflect.

Once you leave the confines of the University, there are no more modules, no more exams, no final grades, just a daily series of life assessments with no end. The day you graduate is the day you’re admitted into the postgraduate course of life, where as a working adult, you’re no longer given as many opportunities to make mistakes.

I believe that the working world is an opportunity to find greater meaning in life though, and I look forward to becoming a freshman in the “institution of life”.

What I want to focus on in this post is: regret. I don’t know why working people reminisce about the beauty of their university education, but I have a feeling it’s because they had more freedom then.

In an article in The Guardian, a palliative nurse describes the five most common regrets people have at the end of their lives. None of them are about worldly achievements:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

How does all this relate to your four years in university? Continue reading

Life as we know it…

It has been two years since I took my A-levels. I remember the euphoria as a fresh survivor of that academic milestone, and also that it dies out soon enough as one gets lost in the befuddling maze we call university applications.

“Who am I?” “What is my purpose?” Questions like these may keep you awake at night during the admissions season. Given that it is that time of the year again, I am going to dedicate this post to help potential REP (Renaissance Engineering Programme) applicants figure out whether REP is the course for them.

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From classroom to Board room

Last October, I was invited to the NTU Board of Trustees’ work retreat in Bintan. This was the first time student leaders were invited to such a meeting. In the spirit of preparation, I decided to do some research about the Board.

I found out its members are “long-term stewards of the university” and they make up the highest body in the university. Which made me wonder: what do they do? Shouldn’t I then direct all my feedback (and student complaints) to the Board?

Well, it seems the Board sets the broad strategic directions of the university, while the President, Prof Bertil Andersson, and his team deal with the day-to-day running of the university. Their relationship is much like that between a company’s management team and its board of directors made up of eminent individuals from the private and government sector.

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To new beginnings…

The world did not end in 2012 after all, and life went on (the inconvenience is deeply regretted :P).

We are all back in NTU for a new semester that will take us further in our quest for knowledge. A new semester is always exciting – you see old faces sporting new hairstyles, new clothes, new memories, new accents, but with old, familiar smiles. You heave a sigh of relief at tiding over past exams, and you look forward to more adventures and experiences. You inevitably suffer from post-vacation blues, muttering “the holidays are over before I knew it!” But you also cheer yourself up by meeting your awesome course mates, sharing holiday adventures, exchanging souvenirs from exotic destinations and laughing away memories of the arduous semester that just went by.

With such mixed and heightened emotions, my fellow course mates and I started another year in the Renaissance Engineering Programme amid high hopes and expectations. And we aren’t going to be disappointed, for 2013 is set to be a landmark year in our educational journey as REP students.

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