Student Achievements 2021

Here are some of the accolades garnered by our students and alumni:

SUTD PhD Alumnus and Team Wins ACM Gordon Bell Prize

The 2021 ACM Gordon Bell Prize was awarded to the project - Closing the "Quantum Supremacy" Gap: Achieving Real-Time Simulation of a Random Quantum Circuit Using a New Sunway Supercomputer - for achieving real-time simulation of random quantum circuit.

SUTD Engineering Product Development (EPD) PhD alumnus Guo Chu is part of the 14-member research team. In their work, Guo Chu and his collaborators managed to bring down the computation time from something that what was estimated to take 10,000 years to only 304 seconds. This achievement would aid both in the development of quantum devices and in bringing algorithmic and architectural innovations within the traditional supercomputing community.

Guo Chu was part of our first batch of PhD students and was supervised by Associate Professor Dario Poletti.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) awards the Gordon Bell Prize each year, in recognition of outstanding achievement and innovation in the application of high-performance computing.

Singapore Women in Tech, Girls in Tech List

SUTD alumni Jean Tan (Computer Science and Design, Class of 2015) and Glenda Wee (Computer Science and Design, Class of 2021) have been recognised in the 2021 Singapore 100 Women in Tech (SG100WIT) List and 2021 Singapore Girls in Tech List respectively. Glenda is one of 18 young talents on the inaugural Girls in Tech List. A recent graduate from the SUTD-Duke-NUS Special Track, she is now pursuing her Doctor of Medicine (MD) studies. Jean was from the SUTD pioneer graduating batch.

Part of the Singapore Women in Tech (SGWIT) movement, the SG100WIT List celebrates women role models in tech who have made significant contributions to the industry while the newly introduced Girls in Tech List gives recognition to female role models from local schools and institutions who are pursuing their passion and interest in technology, and who harness the power of technology for the benefit of the community.

Three SUTD faculty have also been selected for the 2021 SG100WIT List, namely Associate Professor Cai Kui (Science, Mathematics and Technology), Associate Professor Dawn Tan (Engineering Product Development) and Assistant Professor Dorien Herremans (Information Systems Technology and Design).

The Lists were unveiled on 15 October by Mrs Josephine Teo, Singapore’s Minister of Communications & Information, and Patron of the Singapore Women in Tech (SGWIT) movement, at the 2021 Tech3 Forum. 

Full citation:

Jean Tan (Currently Software Engineer, Government Technology Agency)
An experienced software engineer, she is behind many systems that allowed the government to keep residents informed especially during the Covid-19 crisis. She was responsible for building several critical systems during the pandemic. The is a pre-registration and national appointment systems, that have resulted in garnering citizens to receive more than six million inoculations, significantly accelerating Singapore’s vaccination progress.
She was the lead engineer behind the 1.2 billion WhatsApp notifications sent by, providing the public with timely and accurate information on Covid-19 developments.
Prior to the pandemic, she led the development and launch of Postman, a mass-messaging service that transformed the way the government communicates and connects with citizens. Since launch, Postman has delivered over six million email messages and 1.5 million text messages across 15 thousand messaging campaigns.

Wee Qihui, Glenda
Glenda has just graduated from the Computer Science and Design pillar in September 2021, and is part of the pioneer batch of students in SUTD-Duke-NUS Special Track. She is currently embarking on her Doctor of Medicine (MD) studies with Duke-NUS medical school.

Her aspiration is “to be able to speak both the languages of engineers and doctors”. Her zeal in technology is evident in the healthcare field, where she has embarked on several healthtech projects, including the most recent completion of her final-year industry-related capstone project with a local hospital.

She has also recently volunteered as a UX designer with GovTech working on the app, Supply Ally that facilitates distribution of various items to different groups of the Singapore population, including the dissemination of masks and Trace Together tokens during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

See also: 18 students make this year’s Singapore 100 Women in Tech List

Associate Professor Cai Kui
Cai Kui is a distinguished scientist working in advanced ICT for the last 20 years. Recognised as a thought leader, her work has contributed significantly to the advancement of ICT and data storage technologies for Singapore. Her patents on coding had also been licensed to large multinational corporation like Marvell Technology.

The research field that she is working on relies on the combination of mathematics, information and communication theory, which is traditionally dominated by men. It makes her achievements even more inspiring.   In the past 18 months, she has successfully received significant research grants from the Ministry of Education and defence agencies; published 29 papers in prestigious journals and filed one patent.

Her most recent project is very cool, studying the use of DNA-based data storage technology which stores digital data using synthetic DNA. This approach has emerged as a promising candidate for the storage of over 180 zettabytes of data the world will generate by 2025. She is the principal investigator for this three-year project awarded by the Ministry of Education.

Associate Professor Tan Dawn
Dawn is a well-respected photonics researcher with many published papers and invited speakerships under her belt. Together with her team, Dawn’s research aims to advance the science of light especially in technologies which increase the amount of data capacity that maybe transmitted in internet networks.

Among her achievements is her extensive work in nonlinear integrated optics and rapidly prototyped 3D printed nano-scale photonic devices. What excites her is making discoveries in optical physics that have led to new technologies for high gain amplification, efficient light generation, and the manipulation of light waves. She is currently studying a class of solitary waves called Bragg solitons which allow light packets to be transmitted while being immune to imperfections and enable generation of supercontinua.

Dawn is elected a Fellow of the Optical Society for her “Pioneering and significant contributions to CMOS-compatible nonlinear optics and integrated photonics, as well as sustained outreach to advance diversity and inclusion in optics.” She was named an MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35 (Asia) and awarded the L’Oreal for Women in Science National Fellowship. She was on the founding committee of the SCS Women in Technology Special Interest Group and continues to contribute towards promoting gender parity in Engineering.

Assistant Professor Herremans Dorien
Dorien has successfully combined her twin love of music and AI into a research career. Her research was pioneering in the field, laying the basis of technologies now used by companies such as Aiva, Jukedeck, Spotify and other digital music platforms.

Currently, she is working on an AI system that can generate music based on the emotions desired by users. She is also developing a new neural network architecture that can represent audio so that it can be applied in multiple tasks such as speech recognition, hit song prediction, artist identification and others.

Dorien is excited about the nnAudio library that her team has developed. This library is a free toolkit that developers and engineers use to load audio data directly into a Python neural network.

She has received several awards in recognition of her efforts. She is also the recipient of many grants to advance AI for music and audio. Dorien is extremely gratified to have gone from having to explain why anyone would want to use technology for music, to a living in a world where everyone has multiple apps on their phones that use music/audio and AI technologies including Siri, Spotify, Shazaam, and others.

The Peking University – International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis Postdoctoral Program

SUTD Engineering Systems and Design PhD graduate, Ng Jia Yi, has been granted the prestigious fellowship under the Peking University (PKU) – International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) Postdoctoral Program. She will be spending one year at Peking University and one year at IIASA working on topics related to energy and environmental sustainability in Southeast Asia.

Jia Yi is also an alumna of the SUTD Undergraduate programme. She took on her postgraduate studies under the Economic Development Board (EDB) Industrial Postgraduate Programme (IPP), under the guidance of Associate Professor Stefano Galelli.

The PKU - IASA Postdoctoral Program is aimed at training highly qualified early-career postdoctoral researchers to carry out research in fields of mutual interest at both PKU and IIASA. On receiving this honour, Jia Yi shared –

“(I’m looking forward to) working in a new research group, interacting with people from both PKU and IIASA, which I believe will spark greater inspiration and ideas for research work.”

Singapore Data Science Consortium Dissertation Research Fellowship

For his research ‘Data Issues in Urban Freight Studies’, SUTD Engineering Systems and Design PhD student, Low Ching Nam Raymond, has been awarded the Singapore Data Science Consortium (SDSC) Dissertation Research Fellowship.

Raymond’s research involves developing and applying novel machine learning algorithms to resolve prevalent data issues commonly encountered in urban freight datasets, and gaining insights to support decision-making and urban planning.

 The SDSC Dissertation Research Fellowship aims to promote and recognise innovative and impactful data science thesis work of doctoral students at local universities. Raymond is one of 10 recipients of the inaugural award.

Multiple Wins at Singapore Amazing Flying Machine Competition 2021

Representing SUTD at the Singapore Amazing Flying Machine Competition 2021 (SAFMC), 12 students took home multiple awards across four different categories - D2 (Autonomous), D1 (Semi-Autonomous), C3 (FPV Flight – Advanced) and C2 (FPV Flight – Novice). The virtual award ceremony was held on 21 April where the winners received the awards from guest-of-honour, Senior Minister of State for Defence, Mr Heng Chee How. 

Category D2 (Autonomous)

1st place

MRS Team 1 consisting:

  • Li Senrui (ISTD Senior)
  • Amos Sim (EPD Senior)
  • Tan Kian Wee (EPD Senior)
  • Tan Weiheng (EPD Senior)

3rd place

MRS Team 2 consisting:

  • Tan Jin Yuan (EPD Senior)
  • Chung Wah Kit (EPD Junior)
  • Ma Yuchen (EPD Junior)
  • Sean Yeo (EPD Junior)

Category D1 (Semi-Autonomous)

2nd place

MRS Team consisting:

  • Kristabel Lim (EPD Junior)
  • Low Jia Hwee (EPD Junior)
  • Hung Chia-Yu (Freshmore)
  • Tham Jit (Freshmore)

Category C3 (FPV Flight – Advanced)

5th place

  • Tan Kian Wee (EPD Senior)

7th place

  • Amos Sim (EPD Senior)

Category C2 (FPV Flight – Novice)

11th place

  • Tham Jit (Freshmore)

The SAFMC, Singapore’s premier annual flying machine competition, is jointly organised by DSO National Laboratories and Science Centre Singapore, and supported by Ministry of Defence (MINDEF).

Top 3 at Mapletree-SCCCI River Hongbao Hackathon 2021

Team E-Duo, comprising two first year SUTD students, Tan Hong Zhang and Dylan Raharja, and NUS student, Lim Wei Xiang Andy, was one of three winning teams out of 10 finalists at the Mapletree-SCCCI River Hongbao Hackathon (RHBHacks) 2021, an annual youth entrepreneurship competition sponsored by Mapletree Investments (Mapletree) and supported by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI).
Their business to sell customised 3D printed bio-degradable planting pots for home gardeners won them S$2,000 cash prize and S$5,000 seed money to develop and sell their environmentally friendly products. Re-branded as ‘Printed’, the group will be operating at booth #17 during the River Hongbao (RHB) Showcase from 10 to 16 February 2021 at Gardens by the Bay.

Held on 7 January 2021, the finals of RHBHacks 2021 was graced by Guest-of-Honour, Ms Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for the Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. (Image credit: RHB 2021 Organising Committee)
This year’s challenge, themed “Forging a Brighter Future”, saw a record 45 enterprising submissions from 11 local and private tertiary institution.