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SUTD 10th Anniversary - Speech by Mr Lee Tzu Yang, Chairman of SUTD Board of Trustees

10 Jul 2019

Good afternoon
Minister for Education, Mr Ong Ye Kung
SUTD Founding Chairman, Mr Philip Ng
SUTD President Emeritus, Professor Thomas Magnanti
SUTD President, Professor Chong Tow Chong
SUTD’s Board of Trustees, Committee Members, SUTD Family,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
 
A warm welcome to all, and thank you for joining us here today in celebration as SUTD turns 10.
 
I just came from the launch of our new Entrepreneurship Centre, at which we signed Memorandums of Understanding with SingCham (the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in China, Spaze Ventures, a startup incubator, and with UPS (United Parcel Service), the world’s largest package delivery company. All three companies will be helping to provide mentors to our promising start-ups and inculcating them into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Not only are the number of partners with whom we are collaborating, growing, but we have set up a new space for the increasing number of start-ups that we are incubating. This is a happy problem, and is indicative of the growth of SUTD.
 
SUTD has come a long way in the 10 years since we were established in 2009. All aspects of the university have expanded. Where previously we operated from the 4th storey of the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language at Ghim Moh Road, we now have a design campus, fit-for-purpose, with an on-site hostel. From a handful of just over 100 faculty and staff, and almost 300 pioneer students, we have now grown to almost 1,000 staff and 2,000 students. Thus far, we have graduated 1,145 Bachelors, 192 Masters (including Master of Architecture) and 41 PhD students. With this experience, we continue to work towards “A Better World by Design”.
 
To mark this special year, we designed a 10th anniversary logo. The logo is a communication tool for us to share with everyone that we have reached our 10th year, and it sports the tagline “Igniting innovation by design”, which encapsulates what we do. In celebration of our 10th anniversary, we have planned a string of celebratory activities for faculty, staff and students over the next 12 months to commemorate this significant milestone. These include the SUTD Family Day in June, today’s celebration, an event for our donors in October, and many design forums among others.
 
You may also have seen our time capsule, the wave-like structure outside in our campus centre. This is a specially designed-and-built structure to house our many significant artefacts over these 10 years. There are in total 33 items placed in the time capsule, contributed by the various pillars, clusters, research centres, students and staff. I would like to mention some of them.
 
Among these is the Reactosis game, an educational game designed by our Engineering Systems and Design students. Another is the sugar rocket, which was a project our faculty designed for our Term 1 Freshmore students, to learn the application of physics, chemistry, mathematics and also humanities, arts and social sciences in design. It provided students, their very first exposure to SUTD’s unique interdisciplinary hands-on curriculum. We will, of course, have robots like the Scorpio in our time capsule. The Scorpio is a bio-inspired self-reconfigurable robot for urban reconnaissance missions. We also have an Ultra Violet Whistle collar pin that transforms strong UV light with a small embedded whistle. We presented this pin to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, when he came to SUTD for the Ministerial Forum last year.
 
My favourite item is the SUTD ring, which was first made on a desktop 3D printer in a Freshmore classroom. It leverages NFC (near-field communication) technology to give the user access to campus facilities with a simple fist bump. This ring was the brainchild of pioneer students Olivia Seow and Edward Tiong who founded the start-up Ring Theory. The ring is now in use by students, staff and faculty.

There is a small model of the ‘Future of Us’ pavilion, which was designed by our faculty from the Architecture and Sustainable Design pillar, for which, the original can be seen at Gardens by the Bay. Another is a replica of the dragon wall panel at the Yueh Hai Ching Temple, produced using sensor-based 3D scanning and digital fabrication. This is a novel process, used for the first time in Singapore, in the conservation of architectural artefacts.
 
Our students have also been contributing to the design scene in Singapore through various light festivals. Most significantly, SUTD students have designed the Chinese New Year Light Up in Chinatown since the Year of the Dragon. For the past 8 years, the Zodiac lantern structures that decorate Chinatown during the new year, were designed by our SUTD students.
 
All these give but a small glimpse of the larger whole of our journey, what we hold dear, our vision to nurture a new breed of innovators, makers, inventors, designers, architects and entrepreneurs. By displaying these artefacts in the time capsule, we hope to inspire new faculty, staff and students, and the general public, to learn more about SUTD and our ongoing development.
 
For a small and young university, much has been achieved in the last 10 years. We are proud of our students, especially those who have graduated and entered the workforce, using their skills and experience from SUTD, gaining very positive feedback from employers. We are proud of the stellar research output from our faculty and also the many ideas that began in this school which led to the formation of multiple start-ups.
 
SUTD works continuously to renew and extend itself in the education, research and industry collaboration fronts. After 10 years, we can see the immense challenges which we seek to tackle. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed in some way to our SUTD story. I hope you will all continue to strongly support SUTD, as we push ahead with what we do best, to make a better world by design.
 
Thank you.