Speech by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education

05 Oct 2018

Assoc Prof Roland Bouffanais, Director of Graduate Studies,
Prof Lim Sun Sun, Head of Humanities, Arts and Social
Science (HASS),
Prof Ricky Ang, Head of Science and Mathematics,
Graduate Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good afternoon to all. I am very pleased to be here for this year’s SUTD Graduate Student Town Hall.

To all the award recipients, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations. You have all worked hard.

Graduate education is different from all the previous stages of education. Primary through undergraduate education is about gaining knowledge, learning existing knowledge that is already known. Graduate school is where the discovery starts as one chooses a field to specialise in. A large part of graduate school comprises research, spending time investigating questions that have no answers, yet. Even those who are on coursework programmes, your extended depth of knowledge gained through graduate school puts you in good stead to make a difference in future.

As researchers, you will have many opportunities to create impact, by doing research to answer the questions of the day. You have the opportunity to provide new, practical solutions to problems to society, to improve lives.

SUTD has identified four growth areas that are relevant to Singapore and Singaporeans – Cities, Aviation, Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence. These will pave the way to technological advances in many industries, enabling further improvement to society through design thinking and design innovation – these are fields with rich potential to make a real impact in society.

Design Thinking & Design Innovation
A common trait that runs deep in all the projects embarked upon in SUTD is the concept of Design Thinking and Design Innovation. This paradigm shift from traditional textbook learning to design thinking trains each and every practitioner, whether in small projects or big initiatives, to focus on core needs of the end-user, allowing a focused trajectory towards holistic real-world solutions.

When solving problems, be creative, to ask questions not asked before and have practical solutions that are relevant to users. This is where, as SUTD students, you have an advantage.

James Tan, who graduated in 2017 is a good example. James developed the measurement metrics for cost of design also studied the impact of early design decision on late stage design defects, thereby fine tuning the early industrial design processes to be more exploratory in nature. This has a practical application in the aerospace industries, where cost of design and certification is high. As we all know, Singapore is an aviation hub. Innovation like James’ will go a long way to help Singapore and our aviation industry. I am pleased to note that James is currently working at ST Aerospace as a Senior R & D Engineer to continue his contribution to Singapore’s aviation industry.

I am sure there are many more notable contributions by different groups within SUTD that go beyond what I have mentioned. It is a pity I cannot go through each and every one of them to commend them on their good work and convey my appreciation.

Moving from Innovation to Impact
SUTD prides itself to be at the forefront of innovation and creativity. The SUTD-MIT collaboration, the International Design Centre or IDC for short, is a vehicle to drive design research and innovation, in collaboration with a wide spectrum of global enterprise, government and social stakeholders. The IDC creates platform for collaboration, innovation and invention, allowing meaningful contributions that address societal needs.

I commend the efforts of Team WHYRE (pronounced “wire”). This start-up was established by a team of Singaporean SUTD undergraduate students. The team developed “ARgon Transform” – a smart motorcycle helmet attachment that increases riders’ situational awareness. This proprietary Heads-up Display system allows riders to see the blind spots from their peripheral easily, greatly reducing the possibility of an accident. With “ARgon Transform”, the team hopes to improve road safety through technology starting with motorcyclists, who are currently a group of vulnerable road users. WHYRE, is on its way to develop machine learning platforms and systems that will one day be used to save lives on our roads.

I understand the team is now currently furthering their education by pursuing Master of Engineering by research at SUTD. One of the team members, Lim Qun is currently developing an integrated vehicle tracking prediction and lane detection for advance collision warning system as his post-graduate research. The system will now be smart enough to predict an accident even before it happens in the first place. This research will most probably be developed into a future product. This is very exciting work! I wish them all the best!

All these resonates with what Minister Ong Ye Kung had said at the recent Singapore International Technical and Vocational Education and Training Conference held on 3 October. Minister mentioned in his speech that at the core of SkillsFuture is passion. A strong personal desire to do something well and a motivation to drive someone to learn and hone a craft for their entire lives. I hope the passion to innovate and produce good solutions remain at the heart of all students who pass through the gates of SUTD!

Closing Remarks
In closing, thank you once again for inviting me to your Graduate Student Town Hall today. It has been an enjoyable afternoon, and I wish you all the best in the pursuit of your passions. I hope all of you would continue your journey in higher education in the spirit of creating game changers and attributions that make a difference for the community, Singapore and the World through Design Thinking.

Be the change maker of tomorrow.

Thank you.