Solving a problem and making a difference in the world. This is why Professor Lynette Cheah loves engineering, enjoys sharing her knowledge through her classes, and mentoring young aspiring engineers and designers at SUTD.
Professor Lynette Cheah, an Assistant Professor of Engineering Systems and Design (ESD), teaches two electives at SUTD, Sustainable Engineering and Urban Transportation. Choosing what to teach was easy— “these are my two loves!”, shared Professor Lynette. She loves how her students are enthusiastic, energetic and keen to learn. That’s one of the hallmarks of our SUTD culture, and what drew Professor Lynette here as well.
One of SUTD’s core goals is to groom many young aspiring engineers and designers, both young men and women equally. While engineering may be perceived by some as a traditionally male-dominated discipline, Professor Lynette sees that this is changing rapidly, especially in Singapore where both men and women have the choice and opportunity to pursue what they enjoy and are passionate about, regardless of their gender.
“Young women are usually motivated to go into engineering because they want to make a difference, whether it’s the saving the environment, reducing poverty or another cause. They come in with a larger goal in mind. And that’s great, because they can do it.” – Professor Lynette
That goes for the young men as well, of course! Professor Lynette stressed that these are qualities that she sees in both the young men and women in her classes. For her, what is more important is the passion, enthusiasm and drive that her students bring to class.
Her love for engineering started at a young age. Professor Lynette’s father is a mechanical engineer, and she enjoyed and excelled in mathematics and science throughout her schooling years. She remembers building many things through the years— from an attap house built with ice cream sticks for a Social Studies project, to a flashlight during her early years at graduate school. Studying engineering was a natural choice. For Professor Lynette, what motivates her most about engineering is how it can make a tangible, meaningful difference in the world, whatever form it may take.
Professor Lynette focuses her time and energy on sustainability, urban mobility and transportation. In 2008, she completed a study that evaluated the set of technologies and policies needed to half the fuel consumption, or double the fuel economy, of new vehicles sold in the United States by 2035. Back in Singapore, there are many areas for Professor Lynette to bring her expertise to— smart towns in Punggol, our train systems, and conquering the “last mile” of many Singaporeans’ commutes effectively.
She would like to see more students in engineering. She observed that many JC and Polytechnic students see Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects as more challenging and tougher to excel at, and there’s always the ever-attractive corporate world of banking and finance!
Professor Lynette is optimistic that many will still choose engineering as their calling. There are problems to be solved out there, and who better than the engineers and designers to understand, experiment and develop the solutions?
“If you enjoy, just do it. Nothing should stop you.” – Professor Lynette