As our graduating Class of 2021 venture forth to create a better world, we ask them about their fondest memories in SUTD, and what it’s like to graduate during a pandemic.

Reflections of an Engineering Systems and Design (ESD) graduate
Gan Yu
“Having stepped out of my comfort zone, I’ve grown to be open-minded and hardy in the face of challenges.”

Best memory
“Probably the first time I stayed up from dusk till dawn for project work! We had to set up a design booth for our 03.007 Introduction to Design project, and the night before was chaotic – with teams rushing to print posters, put up the final touches on prototypes, and prepare presentations. It was tiring, but enjoyable to see the collaborative efforts of my team. The coursework at SUTD can be demanding, but the learning and sense of achievement derived is unparalleled!”

Biggest challenge
“When Covid-19 initially broke out, we had to move back home from the hostel, and the university replaced on-campus teaching with recorded lectures. Virtual learning was initially unnatural for me – I had to rewatch a lecture multiple times before fully understanding it. Asking questions to clarify doubts also became more difficult. Fortunately, the faculty soon adjusted and converted to live virtual lectures, which suited my learning style better. It was also challenging working on projects when we couldn’t meet up – we solved this by communicating frequently and using meeting calls.”

Graduating during the pandemic
“Not having a physical commencement where we can commemorate the moment is a downer. But the pandemic has also exposed the areas with the most needs, and shown how technology can play an imperative role in navigating through these tough times. Interestingly, the shift of emphasis from physical to digital mediums also means technology-trained individuals have more room to expand their skills, and focus on areas that are most central to people’s lives – healthcare, urban living, and logistics for consumption.”

What’s next?
“I am under the SUTD-Duke-NUS Special Track, and will be joining the Duke-NUS Medical School in July. Having worked on multiple projects, some with real-world clients, I believe I possess the dynamism to face up to future challenges. I hope to apply the engineering and design knowledge I picked up in SUTD to my future medical research projects, and explore the fields of healthcare systems and operations.”

How I’ve grown
“I used to think design was an inaccessible skill practised only by those who with a creative streak, but now I know it’s really a methodical approach – to evaluate problems and needs, derive accessible and sensible solutions, and tailor them to unique circumstances. I now have the confidence to introduce new perspectives to traditional problems, and have become a better idea generator.”

My project team from the Data and Business Analytics course

What I’ll miss most
“The small and friendly SUTD community! You can more or less recognise everyone in the same year as you, and the faculty has always been highly approachable. Professors remember us by name and serve as mentors whom we can rely on. The SUTD community has enabled me to make some of my closest friends, and I am grateful to have met so many talented individuals along the way.“


Reflections of an Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD) graduate
Diane Lee
“SUTD is a place full of opportunities to grow, but it takes courage to seize them.”

Best memory
“For my independent year-long Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP), I explored if Singapore’s land use could accommodate ‘Neighbourhood Animal Farms’. I prepared digital surveys to understand Singaporeans’ acceptance of accessible animal-assisted activities, and documented “The Animal Resort”– the last kampung zoo in Singapore that closed in early 2021 – while getting stalked by a fowl! I also took part in a ‘Nomad House 2030’ competition, where my teammates and I had to envision how digital nomads will work in 2030. COVID-19 has changed the way we work and use spaces – appropriately enough, we worked on this project virtually and as ‘digital nomads’, meeting in places like cafes. We attained the Editor’s Choice honour from the organiser, which was a very proud moment!”

Group photo from the ‘Nomad House 2030’ competition

Biggest challenge
“My toughest time was adjusting to working in isolation from home during the 2020 Circuit Breaker. However, having constant digital calls with my close friends in school, and with the faculty providing emotional support, I got back on my feet and managed to adapt to online lessons. I do regret not having taken part in more overseas exchange opportunities before 2020 – my overseas internship in Kyoto was unfortunately terminated due to COVID-19.”

Graduating during the pandemic
“Naturally there’s some uncertainty among the graduating cohort about getting employed, since most firms are keeping their headcounts trim. However, SUTD architecture students are equipped with the skills to help firms transition into digital delivery. The countless presentations and opportunities to experiment and digitally connect with people in the built environment industry, through Zoom and more, have certainly trained us to think critically and adapt to unexpected circumstances.”

What’s next?
“I’ll be pursuing my Master of Architecture at SUTD. The curriculum is challenging but it’ll allow me to grow as an architect-to-be. The hard and soft skills that I have gained through my undergrad days will help as I move on to the next phase of learning!”

Helping out Assistant Professor Carlos Banon with his AirMesh pavilion project!

How I’ve grown
“I am significantly more inquisitive and eager to learn. I used to be the typical shy kid and had difficulty asking for help. However, the culture of helping each other out and the openness of the faculty to questions enabled me to open up and be more vocal. This in turn made me more inquisitive about processes and the reasons certain things happen. I’ve become more confident, and unafraid to ask questions and get honest feedback.”

What I’ll miss most
“The studio culture, where we could casually drop by each other’s tables to share ideas and collaborate on work and competitions. Also, the ease of access to the Fabrication Lab, as I’ll have fewer opportunities to work with fabrication machines after SUTD.”


Reflections of an Engineering Product Development (EPD) graduate
Ang You Shan
“Chart your own path, and be proud of it!”

Best memory
“I’ll never forget staying up late in the Fab Lab or classrooms to work on projects – and sometimes even catching the sunrise! The best thing was that we were never alone because your group mates were always with you. Before the pandemic, we could even see what other groups were working on, and also reach out to them for help – whether we were missing a particular bolt or drill bit.”

Our Design and Technology Experience (DATE) summer immersion programme

Biggest challenge
“Getting used to the unpredictability of project progress or prototype functionality was tough. No matter how much you plan, Murphy’s Law will still hand you an unexpected situation – like wet weather. There were multiple stressful occasions when we had to rush to Sim Lim for new parts to fix a new problem. But with more experience, we learnt to better anticipate setbacks, get more spare parts early, and buffer more time for project planning and execution. It was precisely the “tough” times that made me grow and learn immensely!”

My Capstone project team with our project prototype

Graduating during the pandemic
“It’s an interesting time to be graduating, since the world is currently being forced to pick up many existing technologies – like using smartphones for scanning of QRs, NFCs and getting used to working remotely. Being trained in technology-related fields, I believe we are at a prime position to further advocate this change and supercharge the pick-up of technology!”

What’s next?
“I’ll be completing my Masters in Technology Entrepreneurship under the STEP programme, where I dive into designing Mixed Reality experiences using Microsoft HoloLens. Then, I will continue to explore the User Experience field, designing meaningful products and services.”

How I’ve grown
“SUTD taught me to be more resourceful and adaptable. I learnt to quickly adapt to new project requirements, new challenges, new teammates, and to gather the necessary skills and resources required to complete my tasks. I also learnt to dare to be different and to chart my own path. Even though I’m graduating with a Bachelors in Engineering, I was able to pivot my career direction towards User Experience, which I’m more passionate about. Without SUTD’s flexibility to choose modules, and the various design-centric opportunities offered, I would not have stumbled upon User Experience as a future career.”

Mountaineering Trip to Gunung Datuk

What I’ll miss most
“The SUTD family! My friends, who’d always offer a helping hand when I’m in need, and all our overseas trips, supper deliveries and hotpot sessions together! “

Great Hostel memories


Reflections of a Computer Science and Design (CSD) graduate
Jason Chow
“It’s been rather intense, but the skills I gained, the people I worked with, and friends I have made along the way have definitely made it worthwhile!”

Best memory
“Winning the Spark-a-Life hackathon, which addressed problems faced by dementia caregivers. My two teammates and I thought really deeply about the problems and design process, before coming up with our winning entry of a handy mobile assistant for dementia caregivers, with a focus on personal development through interactive journaling. Being more than just a simple software engineering project, it was a tedious and iterative process, but I’m extremely satisfied with the result. We’ve gone on to develop this as a UROP, and hope to really contribute something useful for caregivers.”

We achieved 3rd Runner-up in the Build-On Singapore Hackathon (2019) organised by AWS, Govtech and NUS!

Biggest challenge
“I overloaded my Term 6 and had to juggle many high-commitment academic projects, with several Fifth Row commitments, as well as my UROP. Some modules I took, such as 30.002 Circuits & Electronics, were also challenging for me as I was mostly a computer science student. Faced with a lack of time and proficiency, I realised my body has its limits and I’d burn out if I just worked non-stop. I’ve learnt to take short, well-timed breaks, like going for a walk during mealtimes with friends, playing video games or watching videos to clear my mind.”

Graduating during the pandemic
“I’m a hands-on person, so having spent most of my final years studying virtually during the pandemic, I do feel somewhat less well-prepared and less familiar with some areas, such as electronics. This might pose a challenge should I take on jobs/projects related to electronics, IoT or robotics. Yet, the pandemic itself has led to many new developments and opportunities in my fields of interest – for example, the IoT and robotics sectors are expected to continue growing, fuelled by the industry’s need for automation and remote control.”

What’s next?
“I’m excited to be joining Augmentus, a robotics start-up specialising in creating easy-to-use robot control interfaces, almost immediately after graduation. I also plan to continue helping out with community service, which I had put on hold when university life got too busy. Education-wise, I may consider furthering my studies through a Masters after I’ve gained some working experience.”

How I’ve grown
“I’ve changed and matured so much after joining SUTD! I used to focus purely on academics, and not personal development. I was also much more socially detached and somewhat awkward. From the moment I joined the Freshmore Orientation, I began to realise that there is much more to life than just studying. The vibrant student life, friendly professors, and all the opportunities outside of regular academics all contributed to this.”

Taking part in an Overseas Community Involvement Project in Myanmar

What I’ll miss most
“While SUTD’s curriculum has been intense (especially as I took extra modules) and cost me countless hours of sleep, I did somewhat take pleasure in it! The adrenaline rush from embarking on exciting projects and taking part in competitions and challenges with like-minded and passionate teammates really pushed me to learn fast, while having fun. I’ll miss all my friends from SUTD.”

The world has changed since these students entered SUTD. Despite the challenges they have encountered, each of them have gained valuable experiences that will shape their journeys after graduation.

Congratulations to the graduating Class of 2021, and all the best in your new adventures!

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