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Ready for the real world

From building a smart “egg” that tracks the living conditions of penguins in an aquarium to developing a web application for a global pharmaceutical company, final-year Nanyang Technological University (NTU) undergraduate Garion Ng has broadened his horizons beyond the classroom.

Thanks to the NTU Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP) Scholarship, Mr Ng has been given these opportunities and more since he was awarded the scholarship four years ago. REP is NTU’s flagship dual degree programme that offers a Bachelor of Engineering Science degree coupled with a Master of Science in Technology Management over a study period of four and a half years.

Mr Ng applied for the programme as it met his interests in engineering and management; he also enjoyed the sense of community that bonded the programme’s small and close-knit cohort.

The most valuable aspect that I got out of REP was the community. I had many opportunities to know my course mates better as we attended the same classes throughout our first year, which enabled more open collaboration on projects throughout our course,” he says.

This was integral as the programme featured team-based learning pedagogy for its broad-based interdisciplinary curriculum.

After getting exposed to a wide spectrum of engineering disciplines in the first year, Mr Ng decided to
specialise in computer engineering.

Invaluable experience
Besides a rigorous academic programme, REP also enables students to do their third year studies at an overseas partner university and participate in a professional attachment.

For his exchange programme, the 24-year-old chose North-western University in Illinois in the United States, as it offers a diverse range of courses, from Computer Science, Engineering and Product Design to Performing Arts.

One of his highlights was designing and building a working prototype of a smart “penguin egg” as part of an Interdisciplinary Design Project class. The “egg”, which measures environmental factors like temperature and humidity, was used for research purposes at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. It also collects and measures data on penguin incubation behaviour, such as the pressure penguins apply on their eggs, to enable care-takers to provide better care for under-developing penguin eggs in the aquarium.

To gain working experience, Mr Ng took up a JavaScript developer internship in 2018 at pharmaceutical company MSD in Prague, Czech Republic. He was part of a product team in MSD’s IT Innovation Hub that developed a new feature for a web application.

One of the most significant moments of his internship was when he had to present the feature that he had developed at a company meeting. “I was touched that they recognised my efforts as an intern, which showed that the company has a positive and encouraging work culture,” he says.

He also honed his web development and project management skills, and learnt how major companies manage software projects.

However, it was not all work and no play for Mr Ng in NTU. He relishes his vibrant campus life, having lived on-campus for the past four years, and being active in the dance club at his hall of residence.

He says: “I have picked up many new things and hobbies, and made many friends. It is probably the most eventful chapter in my life.”