The right hearts with the right education can truly make the world a better place.

Are you someone who has a knack for spotting needs others tend to overlook, or someone who’s constantly thinking of improving how things work? The world is looking for people like you to help solve everyday problems big and small. People like our undergrads, postgrads and alumni who have made the world a better place by applying their design thinking skills and expertise they acquired at SUTD. Here are just a few inspiring examples:

1. Scratchbac

Scratchbac was started by 5 SUTD students (now alumni) Jerry Neo, Cheryl Low, Princeton Poh, Vivekbala and Ryan Yip, during Singapore’s Circuit Breaker period in 2020. Inspired by the everyday challenges and isolation COVID-19 has brought to the community, the team created the application (app) so that people could connect and help each other easily. They believe that with the power of proximity, people can collaborate, offer help, and share resources to help one another tide through everyday challenges.

The chatbot based app attracted over 1,000 users in the first two weeks of its launch, and with the support of funds, has developed into a full-fledged proximity-based social utility platform with over 60,000 users (or scratchbac-kers) in Singapore. Users can share excess resources (such as food) with neighbours, stay connected and keep a lookout for one other, or borrow/loan out items – all in real-time. The platform has been especially useful for elderly people who live alone, as they can now tap on their local community for help with errands such as buying food or changing a lightbulb.

Check out Scratchbac and support their Kickstarter campaign here:

2. Alumnae Jean Tan and Glenda Wee

SUTD alumnae Jean Tan (CSD, Class of 2015) and Glenda Wee (CSD, Class of 2021) were recently recognised for their contributions to the tech industry and the community – with Jean joining the Singapore 100 Women in Tech list (SG100WIT), and Glenda making it into the 2021 Singapore Girls in Tech roster.

As a software engineer with GovTech, Jean is behind many of the critical systems we’ve come to use regularly since the pandemic, such as the TraceTogether app for community-driven contact tracing;, for booking vaccination appointments; and the 1.2 billion WhatsApp Covid19 updates sent by She also led the development and launch of Postman, a mass-messaging service that has transformed the way the government communicates and connects with the community.

Meanwhile, Glenda is recognised for her contribution as a UX designer volunteer with GovTech, and for her work on the Supply Ally app, which helps to disseminate face masks and TraceTogether tokens. She recently graduated from SUTD to embark on her Doctor of Medicine studies at Duke-NUS, and we can only imagine what else she’ll contribute to society in the near future!

Find out more about Jean and Glenda here:

3. Steady

The pandemic has brought the traditionally taboo topic of mental wellness into greater public awareness. Despite professional help being necessary in some cases, some may opt not to seek help due to the perceived costs involved. Motivated to help young people who cannot afford therapy, SUTD students Raphael Yee, Bryce Goh and Lee Wai Shun created Steady, an affordable, safe, and convenient chat therapy app. The mobile chat-based app is designed to improve access to quality mental health care by connecting patients with trained partner therapists through an affordable subscription model.

Inspired by interviews with clinical psychologists, counsellors, and mental health experts, Steady doesn’t just stop at offering online tele-therapy and counselling services. It also boasts thoughtful built-in features to support users’ mental health journeys, like a Daily Check-In, Personal Goals Tracker, and an in-app calendar for scheduling sessions. Rather than aiming to be a substitute for in-person counselling, the platform is designed to provide a first-step support for those who are uncertain about paying to speak to a counsellor.

Take care of your mental health – reach out to Steady at:

4. PhD student Ng Shi Wei’s circular Martian ecosystem

While many projects SUTD students embark on involve solving real-world problems on Earth, Engineering Product Development (EPD) PhD student Ng Shi Wei has been busy finding ways to help humankind live on Mars. His research into materials and manufacturing technology enables astronauts to create tools and practical items in resource-starved places such as Mars by creating a local, closed-loop (or circular) environment.

Shi Wei has found a way to use chitin, one of the most basic building blocks of life, and which can be extracted from insects’ exoskeletons, to bind with Martian sand to produce a cement-like biomaterial. This can be used to create all kinds of useful items needed to live on Mars. The insects would first be transported to the Red Planet as eggs, where they would then hatch in space to kickstart an artificial, fully circular ecosystem; the insects providing a source of protein to sustain human life, while serving as bio-convertors by feeding on waste materials produced by humans.

Find out more about Shi Wei’s research here:

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