Moments that matter

What will university education be like in 20 years? Be inspired by Minister for Education Mr Chan Chun Sing’s video message to the students of 2041 where he reimagines and  challenges the boundaries of learning and teaching in the future.

Founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew shared his ambitions for Singapore in his last public address at NTU in 2011. Future generations will continue to be inspired by his foresight, will and determination that shaped Singapore into what it is today.

It all starts with a vision. As the NTU campus stands as a model of sustainability in the future, hear NTU President Prof Subra Suresh speak on the goals and ambitions behind the University’s 15-year Sustainability Manifesto launched in October 2021. The plan is a multifaceted approach that motivates sustainable behaviour around the world, with efforts that begin on the NTU Smart Campus.

At the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, NTU has added to the arsenal against the pandemic with innovations like a breathalyser that takes just two minutes to detect positive cases, seen being tried out by Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong here. Other beneficial outcomes include a semi-autonomous disinfection robot and a community health service by students.

In 2007, five members of the Singapore Dragon Boat Team drowned in a tragic accident. Among them were Mr Poh Boon San and Mr Stephen Loh Soon Ann from the NTU Dragon Boat Team. A fund was established to commemorate their legacy and support needy NTU undergraduate dragon boaters. 

NTU 2015, the University’s five-year strategic blueprint, laid the foundation of NTU’s strengths in areas such as sustainability, healthcare and new media. A high moment for NTU was when the ambitious plans were played out in a 10-page editorial spread in 2011 in The Straits Times, the leading national daily.

Twenty-one years ago, alumna Yang Xin celebrated her Master’s degree with her husband and their baby daughter. Fast forward to 2021 and Yang Xin repeats the Kodak moment with her daughter, who graduated with a double degree in Accountancy and Business. And where’s her son in the earlier photo? No need to squint, he was unborn in her belly then!

NTU aimed for the stars and launched Singapore’s space programme with the creation of the Satellite Research Centre in 1996. In 2011, it put its first satellite into orbit. Since then, NTU has designed and built nine others, including VELOX-I, which is shown here.

This book commemorates NTU’s 30th anniversary and celebrates its momentum, which has seen it join the top echelons of universities in its short history. Peek into the minds of the movers and shakers of NTU. And travel back in time, with the help of forgotten pictures and memories, to relive each of the University’s milestones.

Much has changed in NTU’s history over 30 years. Through all this, a steady hand has ensured the University stayed on course, working alongside five NTU chancellors, eight education ministers and four NTU presidents. He is Mr Koh Boon Hwee, who stepped down as NTU Chairman in March 2021 after 28 years at the helm. An advocate of education, he believes it is the best means of social mobility.

The Wave, NTU’s eco-friendly sports complex, stopped everyone in their tracks when it was introduced in 2017. The first large-scale building in Southeast Asia built using Mass Engineered Timber, it uses a sustainable material with a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel and concrete. Its place on the podium will be taken by the Academic Building South when the “new kid on the block” is completed in 2022.

NTU cut no corners with The Hive, the centrepiece of the University’s flipped learning. Its debut in 2015 caused a buzz in both the global architectural and academic communities. CNN described it as having redefined the traditional classroom. Together with other iconic landmarks, it has helped NTU earn a reputation for being one of the most beautiful in the world. 

The Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Lab is the first laboratory under the Corp Lab@University scheme supported by the National Research Foundation. This pioneering programme has attained notable achievements with world-class research and technology, and has paved the way for other NTU collaborations with industry leaders. 

Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, HEY! pushes the envelope in longevity and as a university magazine with the evolving use of communication technologies such as space, sound and content recognition. The current version integrates augmented reality (AR) from cover to cover with the HEY! AR app, allowing readers to turn pictures on pages into videos, and to pull objects from stories into real life. Along the way, the HEY! team has won 34 international awards, including the prestigious Gold Quill Best of the Best honour.

Guilty as charged! Scientists at NTU are expanding the boundaries of battery technology in novel ways. From using fruit peel to recycle old batteries to fashioning sweat-powered batteries for wearable devices, NTU is continuously pushing the frontiers of sustainability.

Fasten your seatbelts for this one. A made-in-NTU robot showed DIY builders how it’s done when it assembled an IKEA chair in under nine minutes, earning collective gasps around the world, including from The New York Times, The Guardian and The Economist. Highlighting NTU’s strengths in robotics and AI research, it set a new benchmark for robot dexterity. How much more intelligent will the robots of 2041be compared to the ones in 2018?

Hop onto the future of smart transportation with driverless electric buses that are being tested on campus roads and at Singapore’s first driverless vehicle test centre at NTU. The joint effort between NTU and Volvo Buses led to the world’s first full-size autonomous bus when it was launched in 2019. When commuters board an autonomous bus in 2041, will they be reminded of how this journey began? 

We’ve made robots that are almost human and even have jobs! EDGAR was the first robot host in Singapore’s 2017 National Day Parade. Not to be outdone, social robot Nadine has had gigs at AIA Singapore and at the ArtScience Museum, where she stole the show.

NTU materials scientists had a light-bulb moment in 2013 when they cracked the mystery behind perovskite and harnessed the power of the next-generation solar cell. This breakthrough lit the way to cheaper and more efficient solar panels. The discovery was published in one of the world’s most prestigious academic journals, Science.

The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine opened in 2013. Set up in partnership with Imperial College London, the school trains doctors who hone their craft through Team-based Learning and in realistic simulated hospital environments at NTU’s Clinical Sciences Building, directly linked to Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Novena. Shown here are current NTU medical students who have gained valuable real-life experience in the COVID-19 battlefield.

Celebrating diversity

“When I first came to the NTU campus, I was pleasantly surprised by the social diversity of the community. Respecting each other’s identity and celebrating plurality certainly makes everyone feel at home in NTU. Organising frequent cultural events is one way of affirming this ethos.”

It’s hard to put into words what the birth of NTU means to many. So Dr Bernard Tan, whose compositions have been performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, composed Symphony No.1 instead. Listen to his piece which was played to mark the inauguration of the University.

These adorable little FoodBots were one of the unsung heroes of the pandemic as they delivered food safely to campus residents. Made by Whizz Mobility, a start-up formed by NTU undergraduates, these wheeled wonders are Singapore’s first outdoor delivery robots. Only time will tell what else they will be sending to us in future.

Built in the 1950s, Yunnan Garden, one of the historical landmarks of Nanyang University, has been a big part of NTU’s rich history. With its rejuvenation completed in 2020, it is now seamlessly integrated with the Chinese Heritage Centre and an expanded Nanyang Lake. The result is a cohesive heritage precinct that preserves the garden’s legacy while creating a welcoming space for the NTU community and visitors.

The era of the mask

Memories of the pandemic might wane over time, but the mask will endure as a symbol of these unusual times. When graduates of 2021 see these pictures in 20 years, will they be reminded of how they had to adapt to virtual learning and socialising, and how much of a victory holding an in-person convocation was? Will future generations of students be able to see the challenges masked by these covered smiles?

NTU opened its doors to the world as the inaugural Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Village, with the National Institute of Education at the heart of the action as the Village Square. The 18 days that the 5,000 athletes and officials spent on campus were more than enough to build a lifetime of memories as they revelled in an interactive games village with a “United Nations” of stalls.

For two minutes, a mystery biker zips through North Spine Plaza and then into Nanyang Auditorium, arriving as the video transitions to then-NTU President Prof Bertil Andersson whizzing on stage on a scooter in front of a captivated audience at his annual State of the University address in 2016. The video went viral and won four awards for its creative approach to communicating the opening of NTU’s newest lifestyle hub.

A first-of-its-kind car with vertically opening doors and a carbon fibre chassis that wins races and makes headlines around the world. No, it isn’t the latest Italian supercar. This is Nanyang Venture 8 (NV8), a student-built car whose body was entirely 3D-printed and assembled on campus. Singapore’s first 3D-printed car, NV8 envisions a future where cars can be completely customised by customers.

Conceived by NTU computer science undergraduate Chia Yan An in 2013, Lyon was given a makeover for NTU’s 30th anniversary celebrations. What do you think of our mane man’s new look? Our mascot will be with us for many generations and will continue to evolve. We wonder what he will look like in 2041…

NTU is the only university in Singapore to have a Campus Art Trail with 49 artworks all over the campus. Take a walk around the university grounds to be inspired. Seen here is The Fern at the North Spine Plaza.

In a historic event, all four NTU Presidents - past and present - took centre stage for an unprecedented panel discussion at the 2021 Alumni Homecoming. Professors Cham Tao Soon, Su Guaning, Bertil Andersson and Subra Suresh shared their respective journeys as they traced the evolution of NTU and the University’s rapid ascent in 30 short years.