It is hard for me to imagine anything more exciting than creating a new university from scratch, especially in a country like Singapore that is so deeply committed to education and research. The creation of a new university provides a unique opportunity to design something special, a contemporary, vibrant university for these times and for the future.
It is a great honour to be appointed the founding President of Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Let me share my dreams and aspirations for the university.
As an Institute Professor and the former Dean of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), I have had the privilege of working with some of the most talented and creative people in the world and been immersed in an organization that bubbles with enthusiasm and has a passion to literally change the world. MIT does this through first class scholarship, the development of big and important ideas, a deep commitment to educating the most talented students to be found anywhere, and an unwavering commitment to sustaining a culture of innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship. MIT’s motto Mens et Manus (Mind and Hand) highlights its simultaneous engagement with the world of ideas and the world of practice. The ideas are represented by numerous scientific, technical and other contributions, far too numerous to mention, and world of practice is reflected in part by the fact that MIT graduates have formed over 18,000 companies throughout the world that supply important products and services every day.
Simply put, SUTD’s aspirations are no less. Technology and design are essential to the world’s well being. These fields offer enormous intellectual challenges and opportunities as well as an unparalleled occasion to impact and lead practice in Singapore, the region and the world. Through creative research and education anchored on technology and design, SUTD aims to create a new type of technically-grounded leader and inventor, one fully equipped to address the challenges and issues of today and tomorrow. Moreover, being anchored in Singapore and Asia, the University will be superbly positioned to capitalize on the world’s fastest growing economy and to become an important research, technology, and learning hub. SUTD’s emerging motto, The Art and Practice of Design, nicely captures its full embodiment of mind and hand.
I look forward to attracting and working with the very best faculty, staff and students to build SUTD and achieve its dream: through a collective effort, develop pioneering curriculum and research, inspire young minds, and create the same kind of magic that MIT and several other of the world’s great universities have achieved in scholarship, innovation, and social and economic impact. My dream is that SUTD will do for Singapore what MIT and Stanford have done for Massachusetts and Silicon Valley, as well as for the US and the World – it will become an intellectual hub and an engine of growth for Singapore and the world.