22
November
2018
|
14:05
Europe/Amsterdam

Collaborations in urban solutions and digital transformation

The inaugural NUS Engineering Industry Day, held on 21 November, aimed to encourage collaborations between NUS researchers and partners from government agencies and industry

With the aim to explore collaborations in education and research with partners from government agencies and industry, NUS Engineering held its first Industry Day on 21 November. Titled “Enabling Industry Innovation” and focusing on the dual themes of Urban Solutions and Digital Transformation, participants were treated to talks, a panel session and an exhibition of various ongoing projects in the Engineering faculty.

This inaugural event is hoped to be the first in a series of forums to interact and exchange ideas with industry partners, said NUS Engineering Dean Professor Chua Kee Chaing in his welcome address.

“NUS Engineering is keen to have more of our research results translated for use to benefit society or to help enhance the competitiveness of Singapore’s economy. One obvious way for us to do that is to work more closely with the industry to not just find opportunities for translating our research results but also to better understand the industry's needs for technological innovation,” Prof Chua explained.

The two keynote speakers at the event represented both the government and industry. Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Group Director (Research & Development) Mr Chiu Wen Tung shared with guests some of the digital tools used by URA in city-planning for Singapore, while Dr Bernard Leong, Head of Airbus Aerial Asia — a company specialising in aerospace technologies that analyse data provided by unmanned aerial vehicles like drones — described the various solutions that the company has been working on, including disaster recovery and real estate inspections.

NUS Engineering is keen to have more of our research results translated for use to benefit society or to help enhance the competitiveness of Singapore’s economy. One obvious way for us to do that is to work more closely with the industry to not just find opportunities for translating our research results but also to better understand the industry's needs for technological innovation.

A panel discussion, moderated by NUS Engineering Vice Dean (Industry) Professor Yoon Soon-Fatt, focusing on the impact of digital transformation on research, enterprise and education rounded up the event. The panellists — Dr Leong, Mr Chiu, President of New Enterprises & Ventures at ST Engineering Mr Russell Tham, and NUS Senior Vice President (Graduate Education & Research Translation) Professor Freddy Boey — discussed topics such as the changes that have to be implemented to education in this digital era, the juxtaposition between data privacy and collection of data necessary for digital tools, as well as the push and pull factors of industry-academia partnerships.

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly in e-learning, means that educational institutes have access to a lot of data pertaining to the way a student studies, said Prof Boey, which offers opportunities for personalised learning. AI can track the entire process of student learning — the pace and rate of learning and how often the student uses the system, said Prof Boey. He went on to say that with this information, examinations — which only offer a snapshot — may not be necessary.  

“It challenges us, and I think it's challenging NUS to relook at what is critical in this digital age. It’s not necessarily teaching, it's probably learning. It is interactive learning, experiential learning. That’s how you create an environment of creativity in the University,” he said.

Prof Boey also said that research and industry have to work together to enable innovation. “Every country that succeeds in innovation — Israel to Korea and more recently China and Japan — they sustain their research. Research is where you build up the ideas and value of impact… the key is to translate research into business,” he said.

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The panel session with (from left)  Prof Yoon, Prof Boey, Mr Tham, Mr Chiu and Dr Leong focused on issues related to the impact of digital transformation on research, education and enterprise

Over 20 NUS Engineering research projects, in various themes from water to energy, were set up to facilitate conversations between the University’s researchers and industry representatives. Some projects featured included a smart socket that can keep track of the metadata and operational data of a load plugged into it, a novel water treatment system that uses a UV LED module to reduce organic pollutants, a city-wide plan of the possible electric vehicle charging point locations in Singapore, as well as jagged edge noise barriers, a mobile food waste treatment system, and a water-absorbing hydrogel.

The exhibition will continue until 24 November at NUS Engineering Block EA.