Building a shared future: NUS and Temasek Foundation start new programme to nurture Singapore youths

Youths facing challenges in knowing where their interests, strengths and values lie, as well as identifying their future career aspirations, can now get help through a new programme series developed by NUS School of Continuing and Lifelong Education (NUS SCALE), supported by Temasek Foundation.

Called “Temasek Foundation-NUS Youths for SG: Building a Shared Future”, the programme offers short courses showcasing the multi- and inter-disciplinarity of university education. Working with four schools under the Ministry of Education, these courses will be delivered to 40 students from each school, as part of a pilot run.  

Kicking off with Yio Chu Kang Secondary School (YCKSS), the programme saw 40 secondary 3 students signing up for three short courses. The first part, Placemaking: Reconnecting with Singapore, facilitated by Dr Kuan Yee Han from Tembusu College, was a three-day programme delivered in Nov 2021. It aimed to help the students envision the future community they wish to live in -- and making it happen.

After stepping into the shoes of the elderly by wearing “ageing” suits, the students came up with action plans to start sustainability projects that could help make life easier for the elderly to go about their daily activities. They also participated in an online discussion with two entrepreneurs to learn about their start-up journey. Through LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshops, students built their vision of Singapore in 2030, and how they can make a difference.

Mr Yip Hon Weng, Member of Parliament for Yio Chu Kang, who attended the opening of the programme series, shared, “This exposure will be very beneficial for the students to understand the pressing issues facing Singapore in the future and make informed choices as they progress with their studies.”

Representatives from Temasek Foundation, including Mr Gerald Yeo, Senior Director, were also present to interact with the students.

Into the world of quantum

The second part of the programme series was a two-day workshop held on 28 and 29 Jan. Students were exposed to quantum computing, a revolutionary form of future technology to solve real world problems. Led by Professor Berthold-Georg Englert and Professor Yvonne Gao from the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) and NUS Department of Physics with the support from researchers at CQT and the NUS Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, students were introduced to quantum physics and its applications. Using a Raspberry Pi computer to control LED lights and operate a camera, they had a taste of basic Python coding to make a quantum random number generator. They also learned how random numbers of quantum origin can make secure passwords to help protect the privacy of our communications.

“Learning about coding in this workshop has been very fulfilling. For someone who had not learnt about quantum physics or coding, I now understand how quantum technology can be better utilised,” shared a YCKSS student.

“I learnt so many things that are outside the classroom such as how to read histograms, the history of quantum physics, and binary numbers,” said another student.

The students were also given the opportunity to hear from Prof Yvonne Gao, who shared about her research at the quantum labs and the important applications of quantum computers and technology.

“Not only do quantum computers have the potential to solve complex problems much faster than classical computers, they can also be the enabling technology to power many exciting and transformative innovations in the next decade,” she highlighted.

Adding a twist to the showcase of commercialisation examples of quantum research, a group of researchers from CQT presented examples of potential quantum technology start-ups à la “Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction”. Students voted on the start-ups that they believed to be real and were surprised at the results.

The final part of the workshop involved a guest panel of speakers in different roles within the quantum technology industry. The speakers were Ms Amanda Chew, Product Manager from Horizon Quantum Computing; Mr Huang Junye, Quantum Developer Advocate from IBM Qiskit; Mr Ling Keok Tong, Director (Smart Nation & Digital Economy) from National Research Foundation, Singapore; Mr Seow Jian Zhi, Consultant from SimplifyNext; and Ms Yanina Blaclard, Marketing and Communications Manager from Horizon Quantum Computing.

They shared about their background, career experiences in the field, and offered advice to those who may be interested in entering the technology industry.

“There are so many pathways such as communications to strategy and marketing that one can take to join the technology industry,” Ms Blaclard shared.

“There are so many useful skills you can learn in classes and CCAs in school and from talking to seniors that can help you open more options,” Mr Ling added.

The programme series for YCKSS will conclude with “Building a Society for the Third Age” to be held in March. Students will be diving deeper into ageing and social inclusion through workshops and field trips led by the Social Inclusion Project at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.


By NUS School of Continuing and Lifelong Education