Published on 22 Jan 2022

30 memorabilia of NTU life kept in digital time capsule

The items will be opened 20 years later during NTU’s Golden Jubilee.

Text: Derek Rodriguez and Samuel Lim

In September 2021, NTU marked its 30th anniversary, celebrating its 30 years of momentum with the launch of a digital time capsule. The first artefact that went into the time capsule was a video letter from Education Minister Chan Chun Sing addressed to the Class of 2041. The capsule will be opened at NTU’s Golden Jubilee in 2041. In his letter, Mr Chan envisages what education will be like in the future. The OneNTU community was invited to contribute their significant moments or souvenirs that would serve as an inspiration to future generations of NTU students. Almost 140 entries were submitted ranging from class memories and representations of life amid the COVID-19 pandemic to inventions and milestone moments of NTU’s history.

Watch the digital time capsule being sealed
Watch the digital time capsule being sealed

Thirty items were selected from the submissions to be deposited and sealed in the memory bank. The artefacts are shown at the “Thirty Years of Momentum: 30 Perspectives” anniversary public exhibition held at the Nanyang Auditorium Foyer, on Mondays to Fridays (9am to 8.30pm), Saturdays (9am to 6.30pm). Closed on Sundays and Public HolidaysView the virtual exhibition here.

An open letter to the future

What will university life be like in 20 years? Hear it from Minister for Education Mr Chan Chun Sing in his video message to the students of 2041 in which he reimagines the face of university education by then.

Minister Chan Chun Sing
President Subra Suresh

Walking the green walk

It all starts with a vision. As the NTU campus stands as a model of sustainability in the future, NTU President Prof Subra Suresh laid out 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.

Timeless advice

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.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew at 2011 Ministerial Forum
30 years of momentum

The glorious 30 years of NTU

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.

Creating a buzz with The Hive

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 universities in the world.

NTU Hive
The Wave

Wooden wonders

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 with Mass Engineered Timber, it uses a sustainable material with a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel and concrete.

Take my breath away

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 used by Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong here. Other beneficial outcomes include a semi-autonomous disinfection robot and a community health service by students.

PM Lee using TracieX breathlyser

No bots about this

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.

Ikea bot

Solar energy’s shining light

NTU materials scientists had a lightbulb moment in 2013 when they made a breakthrough discovery for a next-generation solar cell known as perovskite. This lit the way to thicker solar cells capable of absorbing more light and in turn generating more electricity.

Perovskite Solar cells

Say "hello" to EDGAR and Nadine

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.

Edgar and Nadine
Satellite Research VELOX-I

Out of this world

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.

Vroom to autonomy

Hop onto the future of smart transportation with driverless electric buses that are being tested on the NTU Smart Campus. The joint effort between NTU and Volvo Buses led to the world’s first fullsize 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?

Volvo Bus
Rolls Royce NTU Corp Lab

The Rolls-Royce of partnerships

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 NTU collaborations with industry leaders.

New lease of life for old batteries

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

sweat powered batteries

Meals on wheels

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 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.

Ready, set, print

A first-of-its-kind car with a carbon-fibre chassis that wins races and makes headlines around the world. 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.

3D printed car
ST NTU 5 year plan

A page-turner for NTU

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.

The heartbeat of the nation

The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine opened its doors to students 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. Pictured here are current NTU medical students who have gained valuable real life experience in the COVID-19 battlefield.
Hey 10 Anniversary

HEY!, the first augmented reality university magazine

Celebrating its 10th birthday in 2021, 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 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.
The Visionary Chairman

A leader’s legacy

Much has changed in NTU’s history over 30 years. Through all this, a steady hand has ensured the University stayed its 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.

Music to the “years”

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 to mark the inauguration of the University.


Symphony No. 1 Tribute to NTU
Era of the mask

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 2020 and 2021 see these pictures in 20 years, will they be reminded of how they had to adapt to virtual learning and socialising? Will future generations of students be able to see the challenges masked by these covered smiles?

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.” - NTU student Satya Brat Tiwari


Unity in Diversity

This is Lyon, hear him roar!

Conceived by NTU Computer Science undergraduate Mr 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…

Carrying the torch in 2010

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.


YOV Youth Olympics Game
Like Mother Like Daughter

Like mother, like daughter

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!

Art as a walk of life on campus

NTU is the only university campus in Singapore to have a Campus Art Trail with 49 artworks. Seen here is The Fern at the North Spine Plaza.


The Fern

A row of remembrance

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.


Dragonboat Team

The secret biker

A mystery biker zips through the newly opened North Spine Plaza, eliciting excited waving from everyone he encounters. Zipping into Nanyang Auditorium, he arrives as the video transitions to then-NTU President Prof Bertil Andersson whizzing on stage on a scooter, revealing his identity as the secret biker. Apart from making for an entertaining entrance 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.


Prof Bertil on scooter

The new Yunnan Garden experience

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.

Yunnan Garden Panorama view


This article first appeared in the first issue of U, the NTU alumni magazine.