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New initiative to groom engineers for aerospace industry

02 November 2012

Dr Newman giving insights on life as an astronaut

Shiyi sharing about his NASA internship

Students who think that the sky is the limit can now opt for a career in the aerospace industry with the launch of a new Aerospace Systems Initiative at NUS. Established within the Design-Centric Programme of the University's Faculty of Engineering, the initiative allows students to devise complex engineering systems for special aerospace missions.

The announcement on 29 October is "timely as the aerospace industry has been identified as an exciting and promising new growth area for Singapore", said Professor Chan Eng Soon, Dean of Engineering. "This is another learning platform that encourages not only creativity but also team learning and cooperation across disciplinary boundaries," he added.

Some 30 to 40 students who have keen interest in aerospace systems, coupled with passion for design, will be selected each year. The undergraduates may choose to pursue this field during their first year or in subsequent years of study, with the option of continuing till the doctoral level.

In terms of course structure, students can choose one of the two learning components offered: the Satellite Systems Design or the Aerospace Synthetic Aperture Radar Systems Design. "They provide opportunities for students to learn about systems engineering and optimisation, trading off performance for cost or other operational or environmental considerations," said Professor Chua Kee Chaing, Head of the NUS Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Some 48 engineering students had the opportunity to learn more about this during a pilot run introduced in January this year. Of these, 17 third-year and eight final-year undergraduates from Electrical, Computer and Mechanical Engineering are currently working on projects pertaining to nano-satellite systems design.

Chen Shiyi, a fourth-year Electrical and Computer Engineering student, gained first-hand experience working on the PhoneSat project that allows anyone with space ambitions to launch their own satellite. He shared his unforgettable experience of the six months spent at the NASA Research Centre at Ames, US with fellow interns from Mexico and Italy.

At the launch, Dr James Newman, Professor of Space Systems at the Naval Postgraduate School in the US, gave an interesting insight into his life as a NASA astronaut. He was on four space flights, logging over 43 days in space.