​Speech by NTU President Professor Subra Suresh at the official opening of the Dyson-NTU Studio

Published on: 27-Aug-2018

Speech By

Professor Subra Suresh
President, Nanyang Technological University


Monday, 27 August 2018,
Academic Block North, ABN-02A-01, Singapore 637335

Mr Scott Maguire, Vice President of Dyson’s Global Engineering and Operations,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

One of the impressive things about facilities such as this is that students in engineering will get an opportunity to try things hands-on, and be inspired by the latest design and innovations. Especially at a time, when increasingly, most of the opportunities that come in the way of engineering students – I’m talking on a global scale – are sitting in front of a keyboard, whether it is a handheld device or a desktop computer, doing simulations. The joy of tinkering with things, playing with things, making things, and making a lot of mistakes in the process, that are accepted, tolerated and encouraged, fulfil the process of learning.

The Dyson-NTU Studio is a very important step in fostering that for our students and especially undergraduates. The Dyson name needs no introduction on a global scale. Sir Dyson tinkered with more than 5,000 prototypes before he could actually develop the bagless vacuum cleaner. We now have bladeless fans and paperless hand dryers in many men’s and ladies rooms.

Innovation and design that changes and challenges conventional thinking, brings into existence new paradigms. Dyson’s partnership with NTU is very critical. NTU also has much to add to this partnership. Within the last two decades, NTU has emerged from a relatively small and unknown engineering-based university to one of the major global research universities. The College of Engineering at NTU, by some metrics, is ranked in the top five in the world. In some other metrics, NTU is one of the leading engineering research institutions in the world. It is also ranked remarkably for its engineering college, number five in terms of faculty citations. It is a remarkable transformation of an engineering college in a relatively short period, and I’m very privileged from a distance to witness this journey of NTU starting in 1991, which is the first year I set foot on campus. 

NTU has a lot to add to this partnership in terms of encouraging faculty to interact with Dyson, with the leadership of Professor Lee. We have a member of parliament who is joining us today, who is a graduate of the engineering programme in materials science engineering. The Studio also gives an opportunity for companies like Dyson to look at the quality of our students who could potentially become engineers for them. So there are many opportunities like these that exist.

There is another reason why I think this partnership is very critical and this is something we have not talked about broadly around campus yet. During the course of the last eight months, I had the privilege of hearing from many members of the community why design-based thinking is very critical for a lot of things we do – not just in the College of Engineering, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, but the design-based thinking across the university. It has the potential to elevate engineering creativity, innovation, and artistic creativity to a new level. This is why companies like Apple and Dyson are very powerful on the global scale because it is not just function but also the form. This design-based thinking will also get a shot in the arm with the launch of the Dyson-NTU Studio.

This afternoon at the university town hall, we will talk about our very ambitious plans – not just strategies and visions but equally pathways and actionable items to take NTU to the next major wave of advancement and growth in the next five years. One critical aspect of that is to engage with companies from around the world that are leaders in various spheres of corporate engagement and impact on societies. 

On behalf of my colleagues, Prof Louis Phee, the Dean of NTU’s College of Engineering, and Vice President for Research Professor Lam Khin Yong, and colleagues from the College of Engineering, I want to thank Dyson for its support and partnership that will impact generations of students to come. NTU has been very privileged and fortunate to have major corporate partners who have chosen to locate to NTU’s lush campus, which adds further prestige to the university’s efforts. So I very much look forward to finding an opportunity, not just to come and visit the Studio, but also and hopefully to get an opportunity to play with the cool things that will be developed by the students at the Studio. You can take the engineering job out of me but you cannot take the engineer out of me. 

Thank you very much.

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