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?
Photo hey.ntu.edu.sg

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)
Curriculum:

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
Photo hey.ntu.edu.sg
  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
Photo theengineer.com

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
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.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, do you have an idea of what the people that have graduated from REP are doing now? Are they doing engineering intensive jobs or more of a management role?

  2. I’m sure this is a question that’s burning in the minds of prospective REP students.

    Now that the pioneer batch has graduated, is there any information available on the average starting salary for those in REP? I recognize accurate figures are not likely and starting salary would depend on the specialization pursued but still, is there any estimated “general” figure? Thank you ;)

  3. Any words of wisdom, advice, or tips for a future freshman enrolling into REP – based on your experiences and the benefit of hindsight?

  4. Hey Germaine, thanks for the good write up. I feel here’s really not a lot of info right now to make a good decision whether to take up the programme. I got into the programme last year but I’m still having doubts on whether I really want to go ahead with it. No doubt the courses seem really appealing and suited to my interests, however I’m keen to know about the kind of iob opportunities that the course can create. What kind of internships does the course offer? Or are the internships sourced by yourselves? And also are there any kind of employment offers have you/ your coursemates have received? Hope you are able to share more about this part.

    • Hey Eugene,

      Good questions! Hope that my answers will help you make an informed decision.
      Disclaimer: the reply is kinda long but I summarised at the bottom.

      Job Opportunities:
      This is definitely my biggest reason if I did not choose REP and went with NUS’s ISE double degree instead (which was really very tempting I must say). If you had read up enough on NTU’s website you would know that this programme is really new. I mean, even the first batch of students have not even graduated (they are finishing up their 4th year) but I’m sure they would do well. I would have to say this is a risk you would have to take, to see if you believe in the programme and most importantly, yourself.

      When I was in your position making my decision, I told myself, “I don’t believe that I cannot go through a college education and not emerge as a person that companies will want to hire. I will learn enough skills such that even if the programme screws up or does not provide me enough knowledge for the working world, people will value me.” (this is a really idealistic mindset I know. Knowledge can be a crippling factor. But you still need thoughts like this so that you can look at the bigger picture)

      But that is just a motivational reason. If you want a more practical reason, there are many students who are under corporate scholarships and I think this is a sign that there are companies that believe in the programme as well. After all, they are paying $17,000 per academic year for a future employee who has not even made any money for them yet. Off the top of my head I can think of Keppel, SIA, SMRT, DSTA, SIA Engineering, HDB, ST Electronics. If these companies invest so heavily in REP students I’m sure other companies will agree that it has potential. I guess this answers your employment offer questions as well. I think the pioneer batch of students will start job search soon.

      Internships:
      This is very sensitive topic, one that is close to the heart because I have just confirmed my internship not long ago. So when I was making my college decision, the programme had this very exciting description: “Internship in Silicon Valley in Third Year at California”. I was very skeptical towards this promise because they did not have a list of companies with this certain number of internship positions that would be made available to all of us. Many of my classmates though was under the impression that it was promised internship positions.

      So long story short, the current situation is: NTU’s Career & Attachment Office (CAO) will help to source for internship opportunities in the States and you go for the interviews (I am only describing the situation in UCB because I am here. For students who chose Imperial CAO found most of their internships as well). However, if they are unable to find any places, they will then outsource the job to an external hiring company which will get the job done.

      There are a few things to note about this process:
      1. CAO was not able to find internship places for most students.
      2. The internship places that they found this year were mainly for mechanical engineers and occasional students from the other engineerings. Bioengineers and civil engineers were not even given interview opportunities and were outsourced to the external hiring company very early in the process.
      3. You can choose to source for internships on your own. It is a very stressful and tiring experience but it is a very good learning process. However in the event that you gave up the choice of letting the external hiring company do the job, and you cannot find any jobs on your own, you may have to go back to Singapore to do your internship because it is a requirement to graduate.
      4. There are students interning for no pay at all, and there are students receiving exorbitant intern pay rates. The contrast is stark.

      The way I see it, these are very much opportunities. Some opportunities non-existent; some and thrown on people’s laps; some are fought for with thick skins. Some people think it is deserving; some people think it is undeserving and the same thing is going to happen when you graduate and find jobs as well.

      This does not only happen to REP. I hear the same things from my friends in NUS and SMU as well:
      “Huh?! How did he even land that internship?”
      “-insert name here- so zai, how come cannot find job!”
      “The pay so high for what, the job also do nothing one”

      In conclusion,
      There are no employment statistics as of not but it is looking good.
      Internships can be sourced on your own or you can leave it to other people to find it for you but you have lesser say and flexibility in options.

      Please feel free to email me if you have other questions!

      -Germaine

      • Hi again, thanks for the info! Was very helpful in regaining my foot back into this decision. U mean intern locally during school holidays? Which year would be best? And will u have to go through CAO too?

        • Hi Eugene,

          You can intern after Year 1 Semester 2 (Y1S2) or Y2S2 in Singapore, at a job that satisfies your 10-week Industrial Orientation requirement. It really depends on what you want to do. I went to summer school after Y1S2, and I would have interned after Y2S2, but MOE sent me for another immersion programme in China so I just took the rest of the time to travel with family and friends.

          On hindsight, I wouldn’t change my decision.

          CAO is just a tool, a means of connecting to the outside world, the school’s career office. It is basically the department that you go to when you have no idea how to search for internships or jobs, and they can advice/help you. You can use it for networking when they organise talks etc. But by all means, look for internships and jobs on your own. CAO is not the exclusive list of choices you have.

          Cheers,
          Germaine

          • Wow, where did u go for summer school? Are there plenty of choices too? Oh is it possible to clock the internship before Y1 even, eg. after ORD?

    • Hey Eugene,

      Oh one last thing: this is something I should’ve done on hindsight but you can actually complete the required internship component in Singapore so that you have the freedom to intern at non-engineering companies here.

      Also I have to add that we are actually very lucky to be given a lot of attention and resources from CAO as well. There is just always some thing for some people to complain about. But if you compare our situation to our other peers, we are reaaaaally too lucky :)

      Cheers,
      Germaine

  5. Hi Interested!:

    1. Actually, I think your grades look good. But yes, it is true that the selection process has become more stringent. I would say the hardest part is during the interview. As I had replied to Interested Student, it really never hurts to try.

    2. There is always time for hobbies, friends and family. It depends on your priorities: how much leeway are you willing to give to your studies. Different people allocated their time differently. Some people spend 60% of their time studying, some people spend 100% of their time studying. So it really depends on what you want go gain out of your university experience.

    I chose to engage in a lot of school activities, mainly hall. So I joined JCRC, dance, jam band, basketball, scrabble, contract bridge; basically I made use of that REP students get promised housing and just joined whatever I liked. My grades are not phenomenal, but I am maintaining a Second Upper grade.

    They have a saying, that in university life, out of School, Social Life and Sleep, you can only choose 2. I find that to be true for almost everyone.

    REP students always have fun though, because you see the same classmates everyday, in the same classroom, and everyone stays in the same few halls. You’ll definitely have fun even if everyone is studying together!

  6. To Interested Student:

    Sorry for the extremely late reply! I asked my friends who came from polytechnics and they came in with a 3.99 GPA! Then again, the panel that decides admission varies every year and it has been 3 years since my admission so it may have changed. Whatever your GPA is though, I would encourage you to just apply because it never hurts to try!

    Cheers,
    Germaine

  7. 1)Hi! Sorry if I have double posted as I thought that the comment that I have posted earlier did not register. Anyway, thank you for such an informative post about REP. I went for the REP talk during NTU open house and after finding more about the programme, I really like what it offers. However, Im worried that I may not be able to join the programme as my grades does not hit the grades of the 10th percentile. The director also mentioned that now they are more stringent in the selection process. I took 4H2 PCME, got the result AAA/B (Econs B), B for GP and A for PW. Is there a chance that i can join the programme?

    2) You mentioned that the workload is heavy, is there time for your hobbies/friends/family?

  8. Hi! First of all, thank you for writing such an informative post about REP. I went for the REP talk during then NTU open house and after finding out more about the course, I really like what it offers. However, I am worried that I am unable to enter the course as my grades does not meet the 10th percentile requirement. The director also said that they are more stringent in the selection process now. I took up 4H2 PCME and got the result of AAA/B, scoring a B in GP and A in PW. Is there a chance that I will be shortlisted for the interview process?

  9. I am currently doing a polytechnic diploma in Ngee Ann (Engineering Science). I have a near perfect GPA of 3.99. I was wondering what are chances of me getting called for an interview if i apply for REP?

  10. Hi Person,

    Yes. REP is heavily subsidised, but school fees still add up to $17k per year. I think maybe you’ve mistaken “not paying school and hall fees” with the scholarship. I’ve only heard of one student in REP who does not have a scholarship and even that cannot be confirmed. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions!

  11. I heard that REP highly subsidised to the point of not having to pay school and hall fees. Is that true? Otherwise, what is the annual school fee that you have to pay?

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