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首批新科大生 以色列实习感受高科技冲击

08 Sep 2019

Lianhe Zaobao, 8 Sep 2019, The Israeli internship experience, feeling the impact of technology (summarised translation)
 
Celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year, SUTD’s focus on technology and design innovation has always emphasised hands-on learning. SUTD has provided overseas internship opportunities for its students since 2013 to encourage them to not only be career-ready, but to also broaden their perspectives beyond Singapore. This is the first time SUTD students have gone for internships in research centres and technology start-ups in Israel, to better understand Israel’s strengths in technology innovation. Lianhe Zaobao was invited by SUTD to report on its students who were interning in Israel, to learn about their experiences, what they’ve gained as well as what they think they could learn from Israel’s vibrant technology and innovation ecosystem.

Watch two related videos (1)(2).
 
SUTD junior year student, Kevin Yee Yew Wai (23) completed his four-month internship at Cyber lab at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel at the end of last month. He participated in an extremely cutting edge cyber security research, using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop technology to detect fake fingerprints and had the opportunity to work with a local researcher on a research paper.
 
Kevin Yee said: “Israel is the world’s leader in cyber security. I chose to intern at this research centre as I hope to learn from the experts in this field.” This internship experience has helped me confirm my decision to specialise in AI after I return to SUTD for the new term in September.”
 
The seven SUTD students who went to Israel for a 16-week internship programme are the first batch of SUTD student interns to Israel. Among them, three students worked as research assistants at the Cyber lab at Ben-Gurion University; the rest of the students were separately working in two start-up companies as data analysts, etc.
 
With a population of over 8.5 million, Israel has the most number of start-up companies per capita in the world and is known as a Start-up Nation. Over the past 20 years, the advent of a large number of start-up companies has propelled its swift development in the fields of cyber security, AI and big data, etc. Currently, the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University and the Singapore University of Social Sciences already have students who have internship and/or exchange programmes in Israel.
 
SUTD signed an agreement with a renowned Israeli university, the IDC Herzliya, and will start its student exchange programme this year. It was the IDC Herzliya university that helped arrange for the SUTD student internships at the tech start-up companies. In addition, SUTD also worked with Professor Yuval Elovici, research director from ST Engineering Electronics-SUTD Cyber Security Laboratory, to send its first batch of student interns to Cyber@BGU. Prof Yuval is also the Research Director for Cyber@BGU.
 
Regarding the university’s expansion of internship opportunities to Israel, SUTD’s spokesperson said that the university’s curriculum includes cyber security, data analytics and AI-related courses. Students who are interested in these fields would benefit from internships in Israel. “Students will have the opportunity to walk out of the classroom and learn from experts working on the most cutting edge cyber security, data analytics and AI projects.”
 
SUTD president Professor Chong Tow Chong said that Israel is the world’s leader in entrepreneurship, with a thriving start-up culture, venture ecosystem, pool of scientists and technologists ─ all these make Israel an attractive internship destination for SUTD students.
 
About 30% increase in students who have gone on overseas internships over the past three years 
On average, about 420 SUTD students embark on internships each year. SUTD has provided overseas internship opportunities for its students since 2013. The percentage of students who have gone on overseas internships in the last three years ranges from about 5 to 11%. There has been about 30% increase in students going on overseas internships over the past three years.
 
This year, 47 SUTD students interned in 14 countries. SUTD has intensified its overseas collaboration efforts in the recent two years so as to increase internship opportunities for students, including internships with start-up companies.

Chong Tow Chong said that overseas exposure is an integral part of experiential learning.  “SUTD aims to give all our students the opportunity to go abroad, be it for internships, exchange programmes or summer courses. We are pleased to see how SUTD’s culture of entrepreneurship has cultivated a growing interest in start-ups in our students and this has prompted us to expand our network of partnerships with start-up companies worldwide.” 
 
When asked, SUTD said that in the past two years, more and more students have shown interest in overseas internships. The university received 103 student applications for 120 overseas internship positions, about double last year’s applicants. Among that, 25% of the applicants had applied for the overseas internships in Israel.

Flexible start-up companies have inspired students’ interest and sense of responsibility
The first batch of SUTD students who went to Israel for internships had the opportunity to participate in practical research and projects. In addition to gaining further understanding of the potential of artificial intelligence, machine learning and other technologies, the students also got to see how Israeli start-up companies operate.
 
Located at Beer Sheva, the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) is 100km south of Tel Aviv, and slated by the Israeli government to be a cyber capital. At the Cyber lab, Bhuvaneswari Sithanathan (20) will join the Engineering Product Development pillar when she returns to school for her second year. She was working with another researcher on the use of AI to detect tampered MRI scans that were injected with fake cancer cells. Though such an example of deepfake technology has yet to happen, researchers are investigating different projects to prevent the possibility.
 
Prof Yuval, research director of Cyber@BGU, is pleased with their first batch of student interns from Singapore. He said: “SUTD has a very unique curriculum that focuses on applied skills to solve problems. They have well-supported the research by completing their assigned tasks, and contributed much to the research outcomes."
 
Eunice Lee (21) is the only one who interned at Pick a Pier, a tech start-up company. This company is developing a berthing management system for marinas. Eunice, who is helping to write the algorithm, has received praise and was offered a position by the company after she graduates.
 
In fin-tech start-up I Know First, Clarence Toh handles data analytics. The company developed an advanced predictive algorithm for the stock market to help traders. Besides learning how the company operates, Clarence feels that interning in a small start-up company allows him to see how Israelis can turn a small idea into a business.
 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes students more appreciative of the peace and harmony in the region
A week before the SUTD students’ departure to Israel for their internships, rockets had been fired at the southern city of Beer Sheva. When interviewed, the SUTD students felt safe during the internship period as security measures are good, but are more appreciative of the peace and harmony in our local region.
 
Suhas Sahu (22) who is interning at Cyber@BGU said, as the incident occurred the weekend before their trip, he was a little concerned initially. But when he arrived in Israel and realised the extent of the safety measures - there are bomb shelters at the research lab and his hostel - and there were no rocket attacks during his internship, hence he felt very safe.
 
Prior to the students’ departure to Israel, SUTD held a briefing to update them on the developments in Israel. They were informed of the different channels to seek help in case of emergencies, and reminded to keep in contact and provide updates during their internship.