Published on 25 Aug 2022

Convocation 2022 – Postgraduate feature

3/4 body photo of a male postgraduate.Ron Kow Kheng Hui, Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) 

NTU has been a major part of my life since I began the MSAI programme in 2020.

The MSAI curriculum offers a good selection of courses in Artificial Intelligence. The course assignments and projects provide a balanced mix of theory, research and practical coursework. Completing the Master Project was particularly satisfying for me.

One year after starting the programme, I started working as a Research Engineer at the SPIRIT Centre. I am grateful to Prof Lam Kwok Yan for the opportunity to work on Smart Nation projects at SPIRIT. Assoc Prof Hui Siu Cheung, who was my Master Project supervisor, has also been influential in my journey at NTU.

I am thankful to them and my other professors in MSAI for their guidance and teaching. For anyone interested in applying for the programme, I would say: go for it, but be prepared for the very hard work! Some prior knowledge of the fundamentals of machine learning and good programming skills would certainly help you get through the first semester.

Alvin Chan Guo Wei, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) 

In early January 2018, after being fascinated with the potential of deep learning technologies from a 3-month workshop, I was left with an appetite to delve deeper into the topic. While reading through research papers about deep learning, I had a desire to be part of the community that pushes the frontier of this leading-edge technology. This led me to apply for a Ph.D. programme at NTU SCSE.

My Ph.D. journey brings many firsts to my life experiences. While parts of my first-year Ph.D. journey like attending seminars are familiar to the days in my bachelor’s degree, most of my Ph.D. experiences are refreshingly new. 

Thanks to the financial support from my Nanyang President's Graduate Scholarship (NPGS), I travelled to overseas research conferences to meet other researchers and gain fresh perspectives not only in research but also about different cultures from peers of different nationalities.

Ever since I dived into deep learning & AI, I have been thinking of how this technology can better benefit society. As deep learning & AI are more widely adopted across different fields, especially in critical applications such as self-driving vehicles, making it safe is paramount. This spurred me to pursue my Ph.D. thesis in AI safety: how we can build AI systems to be robust in real-life deployment and resistant to malicious tampering.

In a Ph.D. journey, research to discover new knowledge can feel like an adventure in an uncharted jungle. While it is thrilling to know that you could be the first to uncover novel findings, Ph.D. can be an arduous endeavor. I am fortunate to have a steadfast support network in research, made up of my Ph.D. supervisor and research collaborators, many of whom have since become my good friends. Even outside research, the NTU SCSE has always been a solid base camp for my research adventure, especially the SCSE graduate office. I drew my stamina and strength to soldier through the Ph.D. journey from the encouragement of my family and wife over the years. This enabled me to achieve what I had during the Ph.D., publishing works in premier AI conference venues such as ICLR, NeurIPS, CVPR etc.

Ph.D. can be a rigorous but extremely gratifying quest. Armed with a passion for scientific discovery and openness to growing a network of collaborators, I hope that you emerge not only with deep knowledge about your research but also as a more collaborative and resilient person.

A huge thanks to my Ph.D. supervisor (Prof Ong) for being such an amazing mentor and being so generous in your guidance and time. And of course, also to NTU SCSE, for making my Ph.D. journey smooth in every way possible and for the support to pursue my next chapter as a postdoc at MIT & Harvard Medical School.

I wish to also thank my collaborators for this fruitful journey. Last but not the least, a big thanks to my family and wife for the unwavering care and encouragement. 

To juniors taking or considering a Ph.D., it might be an arduous journey but it is definitely extremely rewarding. I hope you would take this opportunity to not only grow intellectually but also emerge to become more collaborative and resilient as a person. 

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