REP huh?

Every Chinese New Year ever since my Alevels, without fail, I get this question: so where are you studying at now?

While some people get the “When are you getting married?” Or the “So when are you guys getting children?” I’m stuck with that.

And I get it at least once per household.

Why do I hate that question? Well, because so little people know about my course that I get tired of answering it. I am from NTU’s Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP).

REP huh?

Most of the time people do not know what is the programme all about; other times they’ve heard of it and it takes some explanation on my side to trigger their memory and they go: “OHHH that new NTU engineering programme ah?”

(Which is actually quite stating the obvious if you ask me, because “engineering” is in the name of the programme and the fact that you haven’t heard of it probably means that it’s new.)

After months and years and decades of training, I’ve learnt how to summarize it into one sentence while giving it the credit it deserves: it’s a direct masters programme for technology management.

Here are some of its features:
  1. Double-degree (bachelor in engineering science (specialisation) and masters in technology management)
  2. 5 years of school
  3. 1 year of study abroad portion in UC Berkeley or Imperial College of London.
  4. Residential programme, literally and figuratively (REP will be your main programme and you are guaranteed hall stay for all your academic years)
  5. A fixed timetable (all planned by REP office. This means zero flexibility and no ‘freedom’ of choice. But this also means that you don’t need to compete with others to get into classes that you need)

It’s basically 2 years of doing all the different types of engineering (yes including bioengineering and computer science) but slightly skewed towards civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering. You will only really START SPECIALISING IN YOUR THIRD YEAR.

Also, the syllabus is advanced and thus can be quite rigorous. We will be doing mainly Year 1 and 2 modules when we are in Year 1, and Year 3 mods when we are in year 2.

For one of my modules last year, when we asked the professor for similar EEE modules so that we could get past year papers to practice. The professor named 2 year 3 modules and when we looked through them we pretty much could do 75% of both papers.

Google NTU REP for more information about the curriculum and features. Or feel free to contact me for more questions.

You should take the course if:
  1. You have a strong passion for engineering (or physics in Alevels terms).

As the name suggests, there is a lot of engineering in the Renaissance ENGINEERING programme. Even though you will not end up being a full engineer like your fellow mainstream engineering counterparts, the level of engineering in the course is intense. It will make up about 70% of the curriculum. I am not very sure why but I think that an engineering background, skillset and mindset are useful in many occupations.

  1. You are open to learning

Because we do all types of engineering, even if you are extremely good and interested and passionate about engineering, there is bound to be one aspect that you are not very fond of. But there is not an option of not taking it. Either you are interested in it, or be interested. So you have to be open to learning new things and find your interest in them.

REP student at UC Berkeley
  1. You are a hands-on engineer who likes to explore.

We are very privileged to have awesome facilities to our own; our own classrooms, labs pantry and entertainment. Join us if you will be able to use these facilities for your own projects, or if you just like to jump on to new ideas. We have resources and support from the committee and the director. The system is not perfect yet, there is definitely room for improvement but it will happen.

You should NOT take the course if:
1. You do not like to study hard.

In fact, just don’t come into university. Yes, learning is important, extra-curriculars are important but at the end of the day you are a student and your role is to study. I have been to a few Open Houses at REP’s information booth. And many people ask me, “Is it hard ah?” Of course it is hard. You are entering a university. It is a totally different ball game from your junior college or polytechnic. It is called learning, it doesn’t matter which course or which university you get into. You have to study.

In REP it may be even worse because the curriculum is advanced. The quick pace may be difficult for some. Polytechnic students have not learnt a lot of the A’level physics the JC kids have (even though a lot of it is really quite simple if you set out to get your foundation concepts right). The guys have just finished army and their brains are probably “rusty”. I’m not saying that you will forget everything because I have guys friends who remember their shit better than me, but it affects some people. And girls that 8 months of break is going to get to you too.

In the end, my point is everyone needs to study hard; harder than their other levels of education before. So don’t expect to find a course that you don’t need to and be prepared for more studying in REP. Or maybe not; if you’re genius; but you wouldn’t know till you try.

2. You don’t know how to have fun.

If all you want to do is get good grades, just don’t join us. REP is not about getting grades. It is about taking advantage of the no-bellcurve environment and helping each other learn; it is about making use of the great resources we have and make something of your own; it is about having the luxury of staying in the halls without joining the politics of hall stay and exploring your interests in variety of hall activities.

REP having fun
Photo Germaine Tan

If you can’t do that, REP is not for you.

Despite its rigour, REP students have been able to engage in many other activities: sports, dance, music, JCRC, cheer, and many other initiatives out of hall as well. It is hard, but not impossible.

3. You want to be an Engineer.
You want to be an Engineer

Despite the name of the programme, I am sorry to inform that if you want to be a top-notch engineer in your field, you are better off in NTU’s other engineering schools; the mainstream schools. They produce really well-equipped engineers. I have friends who really know their stuff and what they are doing. Those engineers I know will definitely do well in the future.

As an REP engineer you are a business man/woman, entrepreneur, and engineer all in one. You will be thrown into unfamiliar waters and be forced to learn how to swim. It will be difficult but don’t complain about learning “useless information”, like other engineering content that is not your intended specialisation. If you want to only learn everything that is related to your specialization, then just go to the mainstream engineering. They are better equipped for your type of learning.

Nobody knows what REP engineers will turn out to be in the future. The first batch of engineers have not even graduated yet. The pamphlet says “future CEOs” and I would really like to believe that it is true but who really knows. I think we should all be in technology-related companies, but what positions I’m not sure. But I must say there is reward in risk taken; or a hefty price to pay. At the end of the day though, that decision still lies with you.

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Germaine is a third year student in NTU's Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP) and University Scholars Programme (USP) with a specialisation in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is spending her third year in California on a year-long exchange at Berkeley. Passionate about everything music, she has done singing, dancing and theatre. Following her love for music, she joined an A Capella group in Berkeley and continues to make music with like-minded people, aka nerds. Because everyone likes to travel, she is under plans for a busking-backpacking trip where she would busk while travelling different parts of the world.