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Maximising her potential

THE flexibility of Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Nanyang Scholarship appealed to Ms Cassandra Mun Ji Kay. It allowed the final-year student in the Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP) to choose her course of study and career path in her preferred industry. REP is one of the four Premier Scholars Programmes offered by the university. As NTU’s foremost undergraduate scholarship, the Nanyang Scholarship recognises students who excel academically, demonstrate strong leadership potential and possess outstanding co-curricular records. The scholarship covers tuition fees, and includes allowances for living, book, computer and travel expenses. Scholars are also given priority for overseas programmes.

Best of both worlds

Its dual-degree programme is characterised by the award of a Bachelor of Engineering Science and a Master of Science in Technology Management after four and-a-half years. The bachelor’s degree is awarded by the College of Engineering, while the master’s degree is awarded by Nanyang Business School. Ms Mun, 22, who specialises in civil engineering, says: “The foundation in engineering, business and the humanities equips me with a holistic understanding and approach towards problems.” During the first two years of the programme, she studied electrical and materials engineering, as well as business classes such as accounting, fundamentals of management and financial management. She finds the inter-disciplinary nature of REP useful as it helps her to regard engineering and business as complementary, instead of separate, disciplines. “REP also lets me explore different disciplines before I need to select an engineering field,” she says. In line with REP’s team-based learning (TBL) style, everyone reads up on an upcoming topic before each class. “We are assessed on our understanding before the professor further explains key concepts. We then proceed to in-depth application questions that we complete as a team,” she explains. Ms Mun says the TBL approach enables her to learn independently and as a team. Her knowledge of the subjects is deepened as everyone helps one another understand the various concepts. As a result, she finds lessons more engaging. “I also watch videos and take lessons online to gain a better understanding of key concepts. This helps me to learn independently and resourcefully,” she adds.

Overseas industrial orientation

Ms Mun spent almost her entire third year of studies at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) in the United States. She is grateful for the rewarding stint, which lasted from August 2016 to last May, as it gave her the opportunity to get an overseas education to add to her NTU experience. At UC Berkeley, she learnt from, and exchanged ideas with, her professors and peers, especially the practical application of what she had learnt. “By speaking to individuals with diverse backgrounds, I saw how cultural practices and backgrounds shape and influence one’s views, and gained new perspectives,” she says. As part of her industrial orientation, Ms Mun spent 10 weeks at Smart City Works, a smart-city business accelerator located in the Washington metropolitan area. It helps start-ups with built infrastructure innovations to develop their businesses. “It was exciting to be part of a start-up, as I was involved in different aspects of the company’s business,” she says. Ms Mun helped to develop the company’s strategic communication plan, sourced for cohort companies to undergo training and the acceleration programme. She also organised the first cohort’s Pitch Day, an event where companies come together to present their pitch to potential investors and customers after the accelerator programme. “I gained a newfound respect for entrepreneurs as I saw the passion and countless hours they put into their ideas,” she says. Interacting with different stakeholders in the smart city space also increased Ms Mun’s understanding in this area and fuelled her excitement for Singapore’s future. “Overall, I learnt to be more confident when asking questions and communicate effectively during my stint,” says Ms Mun, who plans on pursuing a career in transportation when she graduates in December.