Newshub - NUS' News Portal

Education Minister engages Design-Centric Programme students

23 November 2012

(From left) Erik Christianto and Shruti Sanjay Tandon explaining their decentralised food waste recyclying system to Minister Heng, Prof Chan and NUS Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye

Minister Heng in an interactive dialogue with the DCP students

Students at NUS learn to solve real-world problems in a complex ecosystem by working through team work that can span multiple disciplines. The Faculty of Engineering's Design-Centric Programme (DCP) offers this experience so that undergraduates can "unleash their imagination" and feel comfortable dealing with brand-new challenges, said Engineering Dean Professor Chan Eng Soon.

The programme seeks to encourage design at the systems level to create working solutions which users need. Prof Chan highlighted these points during Singapore Education Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat's recent visit to the NUS Engineering Design and Innovation Centre.

Students comprising groups from different engineering disciplines presented their DCP projects that address sustainable urban living, transportation solutions and healthcare. These included urban farming in high-density cities, energy-efficient cooling system, decentralised food waste recycling system, wireless charging system for electric vehicles, a travel guide application, rehabilitation after stroke, and automatic catheter cleaning device. Minister Heng showed keen interest in the designs, asking probing questions and giving valuable comments.

In a dialogue session with the Minister, students shared their personal opinion on whether their secondary and junior college education prepared them for a university experience. Topics discussed covered what DCP students can do to achieve the greatest impact, attributes of an engineer, leveraging on team work and fear of failure.

From industry feedback, employers look for engineers who have a rigorous foundation and can go beyond that, said Minister Heng. And the number one thing beyond that is the ability to collaborate with other people, he emphasised. The success of an idea relies on team dynamics and the joint efforts to make it work.

For a solution to attain maximum impact, the focus has to be on people, he added. As humans are complex creatures, some inventions would involve changing behaviour, an aspect which needs serious consideration.

Regarding failure, the Minister advised to make the best possible decision conscientiously after weighing all the various angles. "When you choose to do nothing, you're also making a decision. Very often, failure comes from failing to take action in time, rather than deciding on the wrong move," he cautioned.

Click here for more information on the visit.