Growing up, Ms Natasha Yeo Min attended design exhibitions at museums and travelled to cities around the world with her father, who nurtured her interest in architecture.
The 21-year-old aims to live her dream of being an architect and has already started paving her path to make it come true.
The first step was to apply for the Asian Leadership Programme Scholarship at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).
“The unique curriculum offered at SUTD, with an emphasis on science, technology and input from the industry, stood out among the traditional architecture courses offered at other universities,” says Ms Yeo, a junior student in the university’s Architecture and Sustainable Design pillar.
The bond-free scholarship covers the subsidised tuition fees for up to eight academic terms, programme fees and travel grant for the Asian Leadership Programme at Zhejiang University, as well as opportunities for leadership development through participation as a University Ambassador. The recipient must take up the Tuition Grant Scheme from the Singapore Government.
She was drawn to the university’s emphasis on new technologies — it takes a computational approach to design rather a purely art-aesthetic based design thinking.
She says: “This is where I feel SUTD clearly stands out. As architecture students, we are given first-rate software to work with.
“For example, we use computation software and code to access thermal comfort, ventilation and other climate studies.”
An example is Rezit, an industry leading software that brings together architects, engineers and clients on the same platform.
“This is a new and different perspective that is more aligned with the culture of the modern age.
This approach offers a different perspective that will complement the future of companies as well,” she adds.
She appreciates that SUTD students enjoy access to fabrication methods where model-making or model iterations can take form. A complex form can be printed in 3D, and the mould prepared using a CNC (computer numerical control) machine.
Ms Yeo looks forward to completing her Bachelor of Architecture degree in August, followed by her Master of Architecture a year later.
Aside from SUTD’s forwardthinking curriculum, the overseas exposure she has received has enriched her learning experience.
In 2016, she went on a 13-week fully funded exchange programme at Zhejiang University (ZJU) in China.
Although many of her friends opted to go to Europe for their exchange programmes, she found her stint at ZJU to be one of the best experiences of her life.
What struck the scholar most were the insights she gained into China’s traditions and heritage.
She says: “Through my project led by the Chinese landscaping architecture department at ZJU, I learnt how the Chinese designed their gardens and their parks. I also got a good understanding of their choice of plants, and the overall design and layout of the landscaping.”
Her knowledge was put to good use when she designed an ecological tea garden to promote the appreciation of tea culture in China. She also presented a video of computer renderings of the project at ZJU and SUTD.
Ms Yeo also completed a threemonth internship programme at DP Architects last year. She was part of the team involved in the construction of a covered walkway linking the Upper Changi Station on the Downtown Line to SUTD. She worked on the designs and proposals.
“The multiple meetings between DP Architects and SUTD, which also included their engineers, enabled me to see the project from a very different perspective.
“As a result, I was able to appreciate the intricacies of building design and maintenance better,” she says.
Ms Yeo enjoys feeding her soul as much as enriching her mind through her work.
She is part of Rotaract@SUTD, a Fifth Row co-curricular activity club that brings together students who are passionate about serving the community, while promoting international understanding through friendship and service.
Last January, the members spent 17 days helping to build a community library in a rural village in Phong Thanh, Vietnam.
Besides designing the circuitry and building solar panels to power fans and lights inside the library, they also taught the local students science through experiments and other engaging activities.
Last month, as part of the Undergraduate Teaching Opportunities Program UTOP, she conducted workshops to introduce junior college students to SUTD’s architecture programme, and the unique design processes featured in its curriculum.
“I hope these workshops can open doors for students who have never been exposed to architecture and get them excited about the new technologies that are transforming our built environment,” she says