SUTD Open House 2018: what went down

If you haven’t been keeping up with the news (although we trust that you have), it’s university admissions period and this means…

Open Houses! Various public universities opened their doors to prospective students and their parents last weekend, and Digital Senior sent a writer (that’s me) down to SUTD’s Open House on 3rd March to relive being a student for a day. Here’s what went down:

Time check: 11am

It’s been over 5 years since this writer’s university hunting days, but I figure I should be right on time before things gear into full swing (the open house is from 10am-6pm). Exiting Upper Changi MRT, I’m immediately met with students gracing the path toward SUTD. One asks cheerfully if I’m headed for the Open House, handing me a guide when I reply in the affirmative. Not bad at all.

We’re off to a good start, we are
We’re off to a good start, we are

I’m pretending to be a student, so I examine the programme and lock down a plan of action. First stop: the Campus Centre, where the information centre and showcase booths are located. Again, SUTD students in open house shirts throng the place – all volunteers, I find out after I ask – so no doubts about school pride here.

Welcome SUTD

The first place I end up at is the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) booth, drawn by their offerings. To my pleasant surprise, modules on offer includes stuff like “Global Shakespeare”.

Shakespeare in an engineering/architecture school?

A helpful SUTD lecturer explains to me that SUTD students take HASS mods throughout their time in the school, as part of a holistic education. These modules help students acquire critical thinking skills and understandcultural and social issues – all of which help them create more impactful technologies and designs, which would make a difference in society. Highly popular modules, for example, include “Human Behaviour, Technology and Design”.

As a humanities grad myself, I’m tempted to continue the discussion but am reminded of my persona. As a prospective student, I’d want to get a brief understanding of the school’s amenities. There are hostel tour guides on hand, so off we go.

The walkway towards the hostel
The walkway towards the hostel
The hostel. There are link ways connecting the various blocks to foster social connection. Facilities include laundry rooms and pantries.
The hostel. There are link ways connecting the various blocks to foster social connection. Facilities include laundry rooms and pantries.

My guide, a freshmore student (on campus stay is a requirement for all SUTD students from Term 1-3), shares with me that student life at SUTD is vibrant and that it’s a close-knit community (“Unless you choose to stay in your room all the time”). Sometimes, students staying in the hostels can even stay awake till 3-4am just hanging out with each other!

A hostel corridor
A hostel corridor

Because staff housing is right beside the student blocks and some things are hard to explain over email, students have swung by – with permission, of course – in the middle of the night for consults. Whoa.

A hostel room (Photo credits: SUTD)
A hostel room (Photo credits: SUTD)

I casually ask my guide about the workload, having heard that SUTD students are often super busy and their workloads, intense. He assures me that it’s actually a productive, welcome kind of busy – SUTD students often find projects to do, outside of their curriculum, to do in their own free time!

The tour ends with a view of the swimming pool (within the Sports and Recreational Centre) from one of the hostel lounges.
The tour ends with a view of the swimming pool (within the Sports and Recreational Centre) from one of the hostel lounges.

Time Check: 11:30am

My guide and I part ways at the Campus Centre and I head outside to catch the students’ sharing session. What reasons made them choose SUTD? Curious minds must know.

The sharing session panel, made up of graduates (now in corporations such as Citibank, Accenture and GovTech) and current students across the various pillars.
The sharing session panel, made up of graduates (now in corporations such as Citibank, Accenture and GovTech) and current students across the various pillars.

Their answers ranged from getting the chance to be in a new university and be a pioneer, to taking a leap of faith (“The experience of starting and doing something together with your peers is totally different”).

All agreed, ultimately, that SUTD’s curriculum was beneficial to them: a strong point, one felt, was SUTD’s huge amount of hands-on projects. Another was the strong grounding in design thinking and the breadth of general subjects (“which is just like the working world, you can’t always choose what you want to do, right?”).

All this combined, helps SUTD students manage any project given to them with flexibility and adaptability.

“You can grab any SUTD student and chances are, they can put something together from scratch by themselves if they had to,” one quips, “maybe not so perfect, but a finished product nonetheless.”

The session ends, and the Fifth Row performances start. I listen to a rendition of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” by one of SUTD’s student bands, Monkfish, all while chomping down free cup corn.

Fifth Row performances

Time Check: 1pm

SUTD 101

The afternoon sees me in the auditorium for “SUTD 101”, where I hide amongst students and their parents to listen to basic information about SUTD. In this sharing, a panel of industry leaders reveals that SUTD students are highly sought after and “prized” by employers.

According to Director of DP Architects, Chan Hui Min, SUTD students have “sustainable design in their DNA”. Other traits that SUTD students possess include, are confidence, initiative, and the daring to think and challenge – as well as the ability to voice out opinions intelligently (Dr. Hsu Pon Poh, Asst. Chairman of the Medical Board of Changi General Hospital). High praise indeed.

Time Check: 2:30pm

After wandering the campus grounds on my own for a bit, I decide to cap off my open house venture with a general tour. My guide is a cheerful girl, this time a sophomore. The first stop we swing by is the school’s library.

Exhibits at the library, where student works are showcased. Exhibits rotate every 2-3 weeks. These are works by students in the Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD) pillar
Exhibits at the library, where student works are showcased. Exhibits rotate every 2-3 weeks. These are works by students in the Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD) pillar

What my guide showed me, which I found particularly interesting, was the library’s materials collection. Working on a project and unsure of what materials to use? Just head over to this section, where you get to explore and discover materials you might not have the chance to encounter before!

materials collection

My guide brought me to tour a cohort classroom next. In SUTD, freshmores (students that have yet to declare pillars) are assigned a class and fixed classroom where they will take all their classes in. Freshmores, I learn, are sorted into their classes with the help of personality quizzes like the MBTI!

cohort classroom

The interior. Tables and chairs can be easily rolled around to facilitate classroom discussions and etc. It’s a “cozy” and “comfortable” environment, my guide feels.
The interior. Tables and chairs can be easily rolled around to facilitate classroom discussions and etc. It’s a “cozy” and “comfortable” environment, my guide feels.

The last place we stopped at was SUTD’s Fab(rication) Lab, a multi-storey workshop that students across all pillars will use throughout their SUTD life. The lab contains various kinds of high-performance machines to help students to test, prototype, and build their projects.

A project in progress
A project in progress

During submissions time, the lab is often filled with students. Certain facilities need to be booked.

A new and large 3d printer, ready to help turn students’ designs into reality
A new and large 3d printer, ready to help turn students’ designs into reality

Once again, after the tour, we return to the campus centre. I take a spin around the campus centre and school grounds once more, before my graduate bones complain at me to rest and retreat (Ah, to be young again).

An interactive exhibit. The GPA tower asks visitors to collaborate with each other to build a higher GPA.
An interactive exhibit. The GPA tower asks visitors to collaborate with each other to build a higher GPA.
The SUTD Game Lab booth, where interested visitors got to try Kinetikos out! Check out our review here
The SUTD Game Lab booth, where interested visitors got to try Kinetikos out! Check out our review here
Picked up some lovely postcards from Everposter’s booth, a Fifth Row Club that designs posters for clubs and events held within SUTD
Picked up some lovely postcards from Everposter’s booth, a Fifth Row Club that designs posters for clubs and events held within SUTD

SUTD’s open house has been a great eye opener, especially for a humanities graduate alien to design and engineering like me. There’s a lot contained within the campus to uncover, and I hope that our brief sojourn has been of use to you!

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