This article first appeared in BTS Issue 3.

By Isaac Ashwin Ravindran, Graduate (Class of 2019)
Information Systems Technology and Design

Lessons with our Profs

Expectation: Lectures delivered à la junior college

Reality: I was pleasantly surprised on my first day as a Freshmore. There were three professors in class – while one delivered the content, the others clarified doubts immediately. This made it incredibly easy to understand the coursework.

Hands-on activity to learn about projectile motion

Lessons were not simply dictated, they also involved extensive hands-on activities to get a better grasp of concepts – be it piecing together amino acids to form protein chains or creating catapults to learn about projectile motion.

Creating catapults to better grasp projectile motion

Assignments and Workload

Expectation: A heavy workload. A stream of examinations, tests and projects.

Reality: While the workload was certainly challenging, we were always given enough time to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Project work was incredibly rewarding as we got to apply theoretical concepts in creating tangible and usable products. The Capstone project
through Terms 7 and 8 was an incredible learning journey as we worked with industry partners and students from various pillars.

My team’s Capstone project (DARTS)

The various components that go into each prototype

For my project, I built a robot that aids doctors in performing needle biopsies by automatically positioning the needle in the right orientation – which saves the doctor a ton of effort while drastically reducing pain experienced by a patient.

Our Dual Arm Robotic Targeting System (DARTS)

Fifth Row

Expectation: Fifth Rows were simply CCAs with a fancy name.

Reality: There was much more to Fifth Rows. There was something for everyone. It even included independent research projects under the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP). Here, I was part of a project that built a platform to combat the spread of fake news on the Internet.

I joined the Squash Club (SUTD Squishies) with like-minded peers where we would engage in social activities like going for late night suppers at Simpang Bedok, further strengthening our bond.

SUTD Squash, or SUTD Squishies as we are affectionately called

Hostel Life

Expectation: An alien environment where I’d not fit in and feel alone.

Reality: Having a roommate turned out to be a great experience. Having someone to talk about the happenings of the day with was a stress-buster. I also spent a lot of time with my classmates and OG mates in the recreation rooms, studying and chatting through the night.

Celebrating birthdays with my hostel mates 

Living a stone’s throw away from our classrooms and lecture theatres, we didn’t need to wake up in a rush or worry about the commute.

The House Guardians would organise activities as well – haunted houses for Halloween and dinner and dances for Valentine’s Day. It’s true… SUTD does stand for Stay Up Till Dawn!

Our Halloween-themed activity 

Face painting to get in the mood. Else, how is it Halloween! 

Overseas Experiences

Expectation: Exchanges are popularised to be mediums for stripping away the stress from university and enjoying in a completely different country.

Big Sur, a 90-mile stretch of coastline between Carmel and San Simeon     

Reality: While I did not go on an exchange, a friend of mine did. He went to Berkeley, San Francisco and here’s what I learnt from him. You get to experience a whole new culture – people, languages and their norms. It can be a life-changing experience that teaches you the importance of responsibility and how to adapt to different surroundings.

You also gain a global perspective while expanding your social network. While there were classes, he got to spend time exploring the country. And having the ability to transfer credits of some classes from Berkeley to SUTD allowed him to take other modules in their place and expand his understanding of his industry of interest.

Internships

Expectation: A daunting process of grilling interviews with the unrewarding experience of being a lowly intern.

Reality: To my relief, SUTD helped us greatly in our job hunt. Initiatives like the Career Fair and the Symplicity job portal made interfacing with companies a breeze. The Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Programme (UPOP) classes during our Freshmore year prepared me for interviews and gave me great tips on preparing a resume.

I interned at Apple Singapore and the experience was unexpected. I was given the opportunity to build a product from scratch to improve office productivity which I presented to Apple’s senior executives. My internship helped me deepen my technical expertise and I learnt to work with a team and picked up lessons on effective corporate communication.

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