Swiss route for engineering students

10 March 2016 | EducationEntrepreneurship
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The EPFL campus in Lausanne sits by the shores of Lake Geneva (Photo: Alain Herzog, EPFL)

NUS Engineering graduates will soon be able to pursue a postgraduate degree, while learning the ropes of entrepreneurship at the latest NUS Overseas College (NOC) in Switzerland.

The new NOC will be set up at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), with the first batch of students beginning the programme in July 2016. This is the seventh such college after Beijing, Tel Aviv, New York, Shanghai, Silicon Valley and Stockholm.

The collaboration with NUS represents EPFL’s first such venture with an overseas university.  

The NUS participants will spend six months interning at design-centric and engineering firms in Switzerland, while taking entrepreneurship-related courses at the university. EPFL will also send its students on an exchange programme to NUS, a feature unique to this NOC. 

Dr Lily Chan, Chief Executive Officer of NUS Enterprise, highlighted that Singapore needs people who understand technology and the know-how to translate it. The new NOC at EPFL, chosen for its strengths in research, design thinking and engineering, will help equip students to meet the anticipated needs of Singapore in innovation and enterprise for the future. The Swiss institute is consistently ranked among the top research and engineering institutes in continental Europe.

Similar to Singapore in possessing a small population, Switzerland offers good benchmarks for learning. It is well known and respected for its high standards of precision and quality that permeates through its training, innovations and industry. 

Dr Chan believes that “when our students go to a place like Lausanne in Switzerland, they have the push to think, even more creatively, how they are going to get their product outside and beyond that community they live in”.

Professor Christopher Tucci, EPFL’s Chair in Corporate Strategy and Innovation, will oversee the NOC in Lausanne. The head of the Program of Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship elaborated that the Masters programme features coursework as well as an internship. The students will spend two semesters on the management of technology, which includes options such as entrepreneurship and innovation, then another semester attached to a start-up in Lausanne for at least six months to work on an actual project.

NUS Engineering Dean Professor Chua Kee Chaing explained that the tie-up with EPFL provides another avenue for the students under the Global Engineering Programme to “immerse in an entrepreneurial environment”, while deepening their technology knowledge. “For deep technology, the barrier for entry is high,” which gives an edge to new businesses with such expertise, he explained.

The University is also exploring further partnerships with other institutions in Europe for similar programmes.

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From left: Prof Chua, Prof Tucci, Dr Chan and NOC Director Assoc Prof Teo Chee Leong discussing about the NOC programme in Switzerland