SUTD taking in record 467 students

The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) will take in 467 students this year, a record high for the institution.

The figure, a 20 per cent increase from last year's intake of 386, is close to its intake capacity of 500.

Previously, its intakes had ranged from 280 to 340, raising questions about whether it was being too selective.

SUTD, which took in its first batch of students in 2012, said then that it was going for "quality, not quantity" because of its rigorous curriculum, developed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.

It received 3,055 applications this year, an 18.4 per cent increase from last year. About 40 per cent of its intake this year are females.

Besides having good grades, applicants must write a 500-word essay about themselves.

They are also invited to submit portfolios, videos and personal blogs to support their applications.

Shortlisted applicants then face a panel interview.

SUTD president, Professor Thomas Magnanti, said: "This is our fifth batch and I am very heartened by the record number.

"We look forward to nurturing them over the next 3½ years into becoming holistic engineers and architects who identify and solve society's problems not just from a technological aspect but also with an eye for design, relevance and usability."

In response to queries, an SUTD spokesman said that it looks for "bright and well-rounded students with a passion for technology and design".

She said the rise in the number of applications could also be due to its outreach efforts, ranging from school visits and workshops to its open house.

Other factors include its expanded overseas programmes and the positive employment outcomes of its pioneer graduates last year.

SUTD, Singapore's fourth university which partners MIT and China's Zhejiang University, offers specialisation in four areas: architecture and sustainable design; engineering product development; engineering systems and design; and information systems technology and design.

Some new undergraduates said they were attracted by its broad- based approach, which requires students of all disciplines to take common subjects such as physics and humanities.

Mr Leong Hei Kern, 22, who graduated from Singapore Polytechnic in 2013 with a grade point average of 3.99 out of 4, said the common curriculum helps students to understand each other's specialisations.

"Your classmate could be an architect or engineer in the future," said the Public Service Commission scholar, who added that working together across specialisations can help to create products that are both user-friendly and functional.

Former Raffles Institution student Afiffah Ab Ghapar said: "I like that architecture is taught in a technologically-driven way."

The 18-year-old, who scored six As in her A levels, spent a week in January attached to architecture students at SUTD as part of a job shadowing programme organised by the Building and Construction Authority.

"Design is not just about aesthetics; there could be other aspects that require skills like coding and software programming," she said.

"It's challenging, but it made me think that if I had that knowledge it would make me stand out."

This article was first published on May 12, 2016.
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