Published on 28 Aug 2023

Convocation 2023 – Medal & Award Winners Feature

S/NName of AwardName of AwardeeProg
Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal
1Lee Kuan Yew Gold MedalABHIGYAN SINGHCE
2Lee Kuan Yew Gold MedalPYE SONE KYAWCSC
3Lee Kuan Yew Gold MedalWANG LI RONGDSAI
Gold Medals for Graduating Students
1Tata Consultancy Services Gold MedalTAN WEI LUNBCG
2Defence Science & Technology Agency Gold MedalONG WEI XUAN, JUSTINCE
3Hewlett-Packard Gold MedalLE QUANG ANHCSC
5Information Technology Management Association Gold Medal cum Book PrizeJEREMY LEE KIAN KIATCSC
6DSTA Gold Medal cum Cash AwardWANG LI RONGDSAI
7Yoozoo Gold MedalWANG LI RONGDSAI


1. Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal

Photo of a Undergraduate.Winner: PYE SONE KYAW, Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science)

I am honored to receive the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal, the top academic award at Nanyang Technological University. I am grateful for the support and encouragement I received from my family, loved ones, friends, and mentors, and am thankful to have had the opportunity to push myself academically these past four years, developing both professionally and personally in the process.

I owe immense gratitude to my loved ones for their unwavering love and support, which have been a solid and sturdy foundation for my aspirations. To my parents, your sacrifices and faith in my abilities gave me the courage and confidence to explore my potential without reservation and make the most of this journey.

To my friends, from NTU and elsewhere, you made this university experience incredibly memorable and fulfilling. Our thought-provoking conversations, collaborative project sessions, and shared moments of witty banter and humorous puns energized me throughout the journey. I cannot imagine traversing this rewarding yet intense path without your unwavering friendship and uplifting support over the years. You have made this experience truly special.

I also appreciate my mentors and professors, whose passion for research, care for students, and willingness to accommodate unusual requests like a Year 1 student doing a research project or doing an external final year project, sparked my curiosity and enabled my academic development. Your wisdom, insights and guidance equipped me with the knowledge and skills that will continue steering me ahead in life. I especially appreciate those who made an effort to learn to pronounce unusual names like mine and gave me and my origins the respect deserved.

One of the most transformative experiences I have had during my academic journey is my participation in the CN Yang Scholars Programme (CNYSP). Its emphasis on research and innovation allowed me to dive deeper into my passion for AI and explore cutting-edge topics in deep learning and computer vision as early as Year 1 Semester 1, beyond what was possible in a normal curriculum. The research opportunities accorded to me through CNYSP and SCSE’s excellent faculty were pivotal in preparing me for real-world impact beyond university. CNYSP’s community of cross-disciplinary peers provided me with perspectives and interactions that kept me grounded, aware, and open-eyed.

My internship experiences at pioneering companies such as TikTok and Polybee provided crucial industry exposure and allowed me to apply academic concepts in impactful and constructive ways. It’s not every day that one gets to implement and deploy model pipelines that impact the experience of millions of people or enable autonomous drones to traverse and scan an entire greenhouse of plants. Working closely on complex real-world problems alongside talented and experienced teams was an invaluable learning experience that meaningfully enriched my undergraduate education.

To my juniors and freshmen at NTU, you stand on the exciting cusp of an enriching university journey brimming with possibilities for growth. Immerse yourself fully in this transformative experience, push boundaries, and retain an open spirit of curiosity. During difficult moments, draw strength from your community and know that we all grow through discomfort. As the internet expands exponentially, filled with content not created by humans, cherish originality and genuineness. Stay grounded in expressing our unique perspectives and creativity that come from our diverse lives and cultures. While AI can generate impersonal content at scale, we have so much meaningful experience as people to draw from. Add to society sincerely with our voices and not join echo chambers. Stay true to your principles, and you will find success in your own way. Your dedicated efforts will be profoundly rewarding when you reminisce back on these when you graduate.

To my fellow Class of 2023, we graduate at a pivotal juncture in human history, with advancements such as generative AI transforming our societies in unprecedented ways. While this transition brings boundless opportunities for us all, it also comes with immense risks and heightened responsibilities. As SCSE graduates equipped with valuable skills and knowledge, we have a crucial role to play in shaping this future wisely and compassionately. We must remain committed to upholding human values and strive to direct these powerful tools towards creating a more just, sustainable, and better world for all. The pandemic cast a long shadow over our shared university experience, disrupting learning and student life for the majority of our undergraduate years. However, as a community we supported one another and adapted with resilience. We explored innovative ways to learn and stay engaged with peers, be it through video calls or online communities, showing our ability to adapt and support one another even through disruption. With that same spirit of community, innovation, and purpose, let's move forward to shape the future we want to see, making the most of new technologies responsibly.

To end off, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the graduating Class of 2023. It has been a privilege to share this adventure with you all. I am confident each of you will excel and thrive in the diverse paths you choose and represent NTU with distinction wherever life takes you.


2. Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal   
    DSTA Gold Medal cum Cash Award   
    Yoozoo Gold Medal

Photo of a female undergraduate.Winner: WANG LI RONG, Bachelor of Science in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence 

I am humbled and deeply honoured to have been bestowed with the Lee Kuan Yew, DSTA, and Yoozoo Gold Medals. I owe my heartfelt gratitude to my professors, family, and friends, as their unwavering support and guidance have been instrumental in my undergraduate learning journey. Without their encouragement, I would not have achieved the success I have today. 

Reflecting on the time when I was selecting my university course, my knowledge about Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (DSAI) was limited. However, attending a talk on the DSAI degree program during the NTU open house sparked my curiosity about AI's applications and potential to improve our lives. Conversations with seniors and professors at the DSAI booths further convinced me that the program would sate my curiosity about AI and provide ample opportunities to explore my budding interest in research. These interactions solidified my confidence in choosing the DSAI program. 

Despite my initial limited knowledge of coding and data science, the program's curriculum is designed to provide a strong foundation in computer science and mathematics before delving into key DSAI concepts. Throughout my coursework, I explored diverse AI-related subjects, including big data management techniques, neural networks, and natural language processing. I credit the DSAI program for equipping me with the necessary tools and knowledge to pursue a career in AI research, whether in academia or industry.

The DSAI curriculum also offered opportunities to learn beyond the designated coursework. I had the privilege to engage in AI research during my second year through the Undergraduate Research Experience on Campus (URECA) program, working under the guidance of Dr. Wilson Goh. My research project focused on the doppelgänger effect, a newly established confounding effect in biomedical machine learning. This experience allowed me to undertake a research study from inception to manuscript publication, enhancing my soft skills and deepening my understanding that AI models are fallible. This ignited my interest in ensuring the safety, fairness, and robustness of AI systems.

To further expand my knowledge in computational trust, I pursued a final year project under the guidance of Dr. Fan Xiuyi, investigating the impact of the business cycle on under-specification of stock price forecasting models. During this research journey, I explored explainable AI techniques (XAI), such as SHAP, and carefully planned and executed experiments leveraging my prior research experience and coursework knowledge in deep learning. Ultimately, I successfully demonstrated that ML models tend to make poorer predictions during a recession. I also submitted my work to several conferences, gaining valuable exposure. 

These two AI research projects offered a glimpse into a career in AI research and provided me with the knowledge and confidence to pursue research focused on enhancing computational trust. I express my deep gratitude to both professors for their support and guidance during my early research experiences. 

Throughout my university education, I embraced opportunities for professional growth through internships. At DSTA, my first internship, I delved into the challenges posed by adversarial attacks on image classification models. I explored novel evaluation methods, utilizing synthetic image generation with the 3DB framework to assess pretrained classifiers. I developed custom control modules, conducted experiments exploring the effects of various viewpoints and weather conditions on robust and non-robust image classifiers. This experience reinforced my understanding of the fallibility of ML models and highlighted the importance of improved evaluation techniques.

In my second internship with SAP, I enhanced the efficiency of entity matching using deep learning embeddings and approximate nearest neighbourhood search. Immersed in the working environment of a tech company, I gained insights into the typical workflow, engaging in scrum meetings and participating in sprint reviews. Moreover, I had the unique opportunity to contribute to the invention disclosure process for my internship project. This experience deepened my understanding of intellectual property protection and nurtured my appreciation for the innovation-driven culture within the tech industry.  

I express my heartfelt gratitude to my supervisors at DSTA and SAP for making both internships incredibly fruitful and meaningful. 

To the incoming freshmen and my juniors, I want to emphasize the importance of time management during your university journey. Time is a precious resource, so reflect on what truly matters to you, actively seek opportunities to pursue your passions, and cultivate meaningful relationships. Above all, prioritize self-care. 

Looking ahead, I plan to further expand my research capabilities by pursuing a Ph.D., focusing on uncertainty estimation in artificial intelligence. By developing robust methods to quantify and communicate uncertainty in AI models, I aim to enhance their reliability and trustworthiness. My vision is to make a significant impact by fostering accountability and transparency in AI applications, empowering users to make informed decisions, and facilitating widespread adoption of AI technologies.


3. Tata Consultancy Services Gold Medal

Photo of 3 undergraduates.Winner: TAN WEI LUN (centre), Double Degree in Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science) 

My time at SCSE has been a transformative journey of growth and learning. A pivotal part of this journey was my involvement in the Multidisciplinary Design Project (MDP) and internships at Indeed and Squarepoint. These experiences taught me invaluable lessons about resilience, teamwork, and the art of embracing failure as a stepping stone to success, as well as the practical application of academic knowledge in real-world scenarios. 

Initially, my motivation was primarily financial. However, I quickly found a deeper interest in building products that solved real-life problems. The process of scaling these solutions, anticipating design and architecture issues, and putting the theory learned in school into practice became a driving force behind my efforts. The achievement of this award is a testament to this journey and serves as a motivation to continue striving for excellence. 

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my family and close friends. Their unwavering support and understanding, especially during stressful periods related to school and work, have been invaluable. Their belief in my potential has been a constant source of strength. 

To all the freshmen, my advice is to pursue modules and courses that genuinely interest you. They may be beyond what is required or may seem irrelevant at times, but maintaining intellectual curiosity is crucial. It is this curiosity that will lead you to a job that you truly love. I wish you all the best going forward, and success in both your professional and personal lives.


4. Defence Science & Technology Agency Gold Medal

Photo of an undergraduate in convocation gown and cap.Winner: ONG WEI XUAN, JUSTIN, Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Engineering) 

My motivation to pursue a degree in Computer Engineering was heavily influenced by my prior experiences with robotics and embedded systems. The last few years here at NTU have thus not only provided me with a strong theoretical foundation to broaden my knowledge, but also exposed me to tangentially related topics which I would have otherwise not encountered on my own. 

Much of this was only made possible by some very passionate faculty members who have gone above and beyond to ensure that learning still took place even in the face of challenges like the pandemic and other factors outside of their control. The conduct of the CE2107 and CE3004 modules in particular, saw faculty rapidly adapt to student feedback while maintaining academic rigor. Outside of SCSE, the expectation from the Making and Tinkering module that students step outside of their comfort zone while acknowledging that experimental failures are part and parcel of the process really resonates with me.

Of course, I have to mention the support from my family and the friends I made along the way. My parents have provided their unwavering support throughout, without which I would not have made it this far. 

My friends and I spent many late nights juggling the various tutorials, labs, projects and revising for exams. I still remember the times when we were trying to come up with suitable algorithms at the 11th hour, and the mad dash to deliver multiple projects at the end of the semester. MDP is the obligatory mention here – it was heartening to see that everyone gathered together for support and assistance even though we were split into separate groups. During crunch times, I often found myself pressing on only due to the inertia of everyone else continuing to grind away at work. Thank you for the memories, and for keeping me going. 

To my peers, congratulations on graduating – it has not been easy, but you’ve made it. I look forward to finding out where life takes us 10, 20 years down the road.

To my juniors, don’t lose sight of why you’re embarking on this journey. The degree is not the end goal – it is merely another step before stepping out into the world and building your own career. This will be one of the last places where one can fail without (lasting) consequences, so take the opportunity to explore and question the world around you, rather than memorising the perfect answer for the exam.


5. Hewlett-Packard Gold Medal

Photo of an undergraduate in convocation gown and cap.Winner: LE QUANG ANH, Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science)

As I received the invitation to my own convocation, I was overwhelmed with an immense sense of gratitude. I was grateful to have been able to travel thus far. 10 years ago, when I was still a teenage boy in Vietnam, I could never have imagined myself standing in this very spot. Both my parents did not get to enjoy a university education, and they surely did not have the money to fund me for an overseas study. But my family spared no effort in giving me the best upbringing they could. Thanks to their support, and the support of so many loved ones, teachers and friends I have met along the way, I fortunately obtained MOE’s ASEAN scholarships which financed me through my years of education in Singapore, before and during uni. Just the fact of being able to attend NTU was already a tremendous opportunity and privilege that I could never have achieved alone. 

It is also with a great surprise and gratitude that I have been selected for the Hewlett Packard Award for being the top student in a more hardware-related module. Friends in SCSE who don’t know me would agree that hardware is hard. Friends in SCSE who know me would agree that I have the hardware bug gravitational field – bugs would crawl out in droves whenever I tested the system. In fact, many ex-groupmates will probably smile if they ever come across this article as they understand how much we all struggled through solving hardware issues. The night before the final race of the Multidisciplinary Design Project, I remember vividly how our robot unexpectedly started to brew pungent smoke after I rebooted it. Panic set in as we discovered a short-circuited wire that had melted into a blob, and in that moment, we prayed fervently for the safety of the rest of the components. We also realized that we had left the charger in the hardware lab, which meant we would have to borrow it from another team that was not charging their robot. The robot would never make a perfect 90-degree turn and constantly wander away from the goal line. The visual recognition was sensitive to the ambient light. Like many others, our journey with the robot had been an arduous one, filled with challenges and setbacks. Such is the challenging nature of many other complex projects that I specifically and SCSE friends in general had the chance to tackle in university. Though we all strove to build bug-free products, complex systems aways work in… complex and unexpected ways: wire connections becoming loose, user inputting unbelievable values, or the perennial issue of Windows paths using different slashes from Linux paths. Sometimes the same setup produced different results, and we lightheartedly conjectured that cosmic rays had flipped random bits in computer memories. Amidst all the trials and tribulations, we developed a resilient mindset to face failures in our tests and debug them head-on, which has become so ingrained in our practices. Each thoughtful bugfix transformed into an opportunity to improve the system and get it ready for the real race. With each challenge, we grew not only as individuals but also as a cohesive team, fostering a sense of camaraderie that transcended the struggles. 

Our years in SCSE have been a rollercoaster ride, one that has seen us facing tremendous tests and challenges at every turn. From dealing with the rigorous demands of university life to enduring the disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have weathered through it all, emerging stronger and more resilient than ever before. In the midst of our academic pursuits, we witnessed the meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies and the subsequent fall of Luna, a stark reminder of the volatile nature of the financial landscape. As we navigated through these uncertain times, we couldn't help but feel a sense of disorientation, wondering how we could carve a path that would set us apart from the advanced capabilities of artificial intelligence like ChatGPT, which seemed to be approaching realms that we once believed were uniquely human. Moreover, the economic downturn added another layer of complexity to our journey, making it increasingly challenging to secure employment opportunities in our chosen fields. The job market was fiercely competitive, and the fear of rejection loomed large, testing our perseverance and determination.  

Yet, through all these challenges, we learned invaluable lessons in debugging not just our code but also our lives. We realized the importance of re-evaluating our practices and priorities, understanding that growth often comes from reflecting on our experiences and seeking ways to refine our approach. Just as we troubleshooted and traced lines of code for bugs, we also retraced our steps in life, seeking possible improvements in every aspect. We embraced the reality that we cannot control everything in the real world, but we can control our reactions and adaptability to change. This acceptance of uncertainty empowered us to face challenges head-on, finding innovative ways to mitigate issues and transforming them into opportunities for growth. This process of constant refactoring extended beyond the realm of computer hardware and software. It became a metaphor for improving our overall well-being. Like refining a piece of code, we sought to optimize our health, both physically and mentally, recognizing that a healthy body (the “hardware”) and a strong mindset (the “software”) are essential for success in any endeavor. Through working together on tackling various projects and overcoming challengers, we also realized that we are stronger when we stand together. Ten years from now, I may forget the GPA that I attained, but I will not forget receiving the small sticky notes with well-wishes on my first exam seasons. I will not forget that at a difficult time during the pandemic era, a friend in hall knocked on my door and left a box of dumplings for me at midnight thinking I was still awake and stressed. I will not forget the various forms of career advice and support I have received from the school, which helped me to orientate myself to find my first job.

As I stand on the cusp of a new chapter, looking back at my years in SCSE, I can't help but feel so grateful for having embarked on this journey with my peers. The tests we faced were not merely academic evaluations but profound life lessons that shaped us into the individuals we are today. With our hardware and software well-tested and strengthened, we now venture into the world, ready to take on whatever challenges lie ahead, armed with the knowledge that constant refactoring and the pursuit of excellence are the keys to unlocking our full potential. 

Thank you SCSE for preparing us for more than just a life of tests; you have equipped us with the strength and resilience to face the tests of life.


6. IMDA Gold Medal

Photo of an undergraduate in convocation gown and cap.Winner: OONG JIE XIANG, Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science) 

Despite being famous for its capacity to foster high-quality graduates, the US is confronted with a controversial debate: undergraduate degrees are no longer important. Coupled with the switch of teaching media due to the pandemic, many claim that one can gain as much from undergraduate as from online certificate programs. There is seemingly no significant benefit to attending university. 

Four years ago, I had the honour to study in Singapore. Similar to most pre-university graduates, I had many hopes for what university life hopes to offer, firmly believing that university life will bring progression beyond academics. 

In our first year, my friends and I had vast opportunities to explore. The challenging and fast-paced learning environment did not quench the passion we had to widen our perspectives. Instead, many of us were on the lookout for co-curricular activities (CCA) that stretched us to develop skills we never thought could acquire, research and internship opportunities that gained us career credentials, and friends hailing from various parts of the world that presented many pieces in the life kaleidoscope. Just as we thought all these were wiped out with the pandemic, we slowly discovered other alternatives and experiences borne out of this. In SCSE, it was uncommon to collaborate without ever seeing each other physically. It was uncommon that a student can take up many internships in one’s university life. It was uncommon that we could be confident in organising online CCA events with plenty of restrictions. 

In retrospect, I often explain the university life of an SCSE student in four phases to my friends and juniors. A Freshman explores and tries as much as possible to explore one’s interests and befriend new people, having little overhead and a relatively manageable first-year curriculum. A Sophomore narrows down his interest in a few CCA clubs and develops several computing skills, through internships or projects. A Junior (third-year student) focuses on a CCA club to contribute back to the place that shaped his character by mentoring juniors and leading in exco positions and specialising in a few computer electives. Finally, a Senior spends most of his time on self-development, learning beyond the curriculum.  

At first glance, the identification of these phases seems unnecessary and contrived. How could everybody experience the same phase? Indeed, my observation is simply a reflection of what my circle of friends and I have experienced. However, the purpose of this sharing is merely to highlight two things: (1) being mindful of your mental state and maturity in university, and being honest about it (2) always have a direction. At the end of these 4 - 5 years of university life, what have you gained? Is it a simple statement that “I could have gained the same things by just studying Coursera”? Or is it the realisation that you are good at something, the world is not what you used to see, and that you made a pleasantly shocking decision to upskill and push yourself towards your dreams? 

My university life is not the most colourful, but I am grateful that the little moments and certain decisions make it memorable and significant for me. In my second year where I squeezed my schedules to the limit that I started climbing the staircases in Hall 8 to maintain my regular exercise routine. The software systems project presentation in the morning that featured our striking gaming application functioning anomalously as we spent all the free credits for cloud services. The regular gatherings I spent with my CCA club members, despite many of them having graduated. Pleasant or unpleasant, these experiences shifted my mindset.

Of course, university life is accompanied by exposure to amazing people. I have great professors that taught me, particularly Prof. Zinovi Rabinovich, my tutor for three semesters and AI course lecturer; computer engineering professors Prof Chan Syin, Prof Oh Hong Lye, Prof Arvind Easwaran, Prof Smitha and Prof Goh Wooi Boon; networking course lecturer Prof Li Mo, whose tutorial class was often cramped with students; my FYP supervisor Prof Li Yi, who gave me the liberty to execute my project. Additionally, despite my skills being underdeveloped in my second year, Prof Cheong Foong Soon took up the onus of teaching me the mindset of researching and exposing me to various computing technologies I was never aware of. 

Behind the scenes of quick academic growth lies the support of my family and friends. Despite not being physically in Singapore, my family’s relentless support in any sound decision I made formed a strong pillar in my pursuit of knowledge and viewpoints. Meanwhile, my friends and I cared for each other, pulling ourselves through the hectic assignment deadlines. Those past year paper discussion initiatives, sharing of compiled notes, and formation of project teams underlie the success I have today. 

As an international student, having the opportunity to study overseas is already invaluable. I am grateful to be awarded the IMDA Gold Medal Award. But once again, this would not be realised without the dedicated teaching staff, support from my family and friends, and the mentorship and guidance I received from many generous people. 

The debate about attending university is still ongoing. If you are swayed by this debate, here is a question: is only the result important, or the process too? To me, university life is for us to know what we want and what we do not. So long as our academic results remain on target, explore. The mental shift is something online certificate programs cannot render.


7. Information Technology Management Association Gold Medal cum Book Prize

Photo of an undergraduate in convocation gown and cap.Winner: JEREMY LEE KIAN KIAT, Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science) 

I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the prestigious Information Technology Management Association (ITMA) Gold Medal, recognizing my academic achievements at NTU School of Computer Science and Engineering (SCSE). 

My journey with SCSE commenced with a humble academic background in Normal Technical/EM3. Despite facing initial challenges and not excelling in any particular field, my time at Henderson Secondary School (HSS) left a lasting impression. The encouragement from my teachers, who emphasized the significance of continuous progress, became a driving force behind my decision to embark on a journey of constant self-improvement, ultimately leading me to secure a place at NTU. It doesn't matter how slow you grow, as long as you don't stop progressing. 

NTU's commitment to fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship has been instrumental in shaping my academic experience. The university's emphasis on creativity and problem-solving abilities has inspired me to embrace cutting-edge technologies and engage in meaningful projects, internships, and industry collaborations. Through these invaluable opportunities, NTU engineering students, like myself, are equipped with the practical skills and knowledge needed to excel in the industry upon graduation. 

While this journey has been rewarding, it has not been without challenges. One of the most formidable periods during my time at NTU was navigating a sudden medical condition that required surgery, all while managing my academic responsibilities and work commitments. During this challenging time, I found immense support from individuals such as Dr. Hanwang, Dr. Nicholas, and my fellow peers (Jx, Kh, Zx, Yr, Li Jie, Eccles, Gerald, Aravind, and Kalki), who provided unwavering encouragement and assistance in my studies.

As you embark on your own journey at NTU, I understand that uncertainties and challenges may arise. In such moments, it is crucial to seek guidance and support from supervisors, mentors, and friends. The adage, "if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together," rings true. I encourage you to form study groups or find study partners who will be there to uplift and motivate each other through the ups and downs of academia. 

In conclusion, my time at NTU SCSE has been a transformative experience, propelling me towards academic excellence and personal growth. I extend my sincere appreciation to the Information Technology Management Association, NTU faculty, mentors, friends, and family, whose unwavering support and encouragement have been pivotal in my achievements. As I move forward, I am eager to embrace new challenges, continue my pursuit of knowledge, and contribute to the ever-evolving world of technology and innovation. It doesn't matter how slow you grow, as long as you don't stop progressing.

Medals & Awards video: 

On behalf of SCSE, we extend our warmest congratulations to all our graduates and wish you the very best in all your future endeavours.