Members of the Board of Governors,
Principal & CEO of Singapore Polytechnic, Mr Soh Wai Wah,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- It is my pleasure to join you at this morning’s Graduation Ceremony. My congratulations to all graduates, as well as the lecturers and management of Singapore Polytechnic on this special occasion.
- I was once like you, seated in a hall waiting anxiously to get out and call it a day. Looking forward to entering a new journey of your life.
- I was told to make a Relevant Inspiring speech to the graduates from Diploma in:
- Computer Engineering
- Clean Energy
- Energy Systems and Management
- Engineering Systems
- Info-Communication Engineering & Design
I struggled to find an intersection in the "SET THEORY", defining it as a Math’s problem. It was very difficult for me as I did not perform well in my Math’s results during my Polytechnic day.
Nevertheless, I will do my best to find the sweet spot for each of you.
- Singapore Polytechnic was my first and last Tertiary Education place which makes it appropriate for me to tell you what is next after you graduate. In 1988, my lecturer, Mrs Yim, from School of EEE during our last lecture said, “Your diploma would be obsolete in 5 years’ time just like this digital watch”. Reality sets in while looking at my results but there was only one sentence for myself: “no turning back”.
- For some reason, she had the foresight of what our government preach about "the lifelong learning" - the concept of “SKILLSFUTURE”.
- It was a wake-up call for me as the statement has kept me going, accepting the fact about technology revolution. Most importantly, reminded me to fully harness as an Engineer, building my lifetime values.
- It does not matter where you are going next, Singapore Polytechnic has not only equipped you academically but also laid a life-long engineering foundation for you.
- For those who had decided to further study, I wish you all the best in your next phase of your study.
- I look at career in the form of the cocktail:
- working hours
- family commitments and
- social expectations.
It is going to be the most important part of your entire life.
- In most recent graduation talks, many have referred to Steve Job, perhaps Bill Gates’ successes and quotes as a form of inspiration to the students during graduation. However, I rather not, as they never made it through graduation.
- Instead, I have decided to look far back into the history to find a more holistic view of Engineering successes that many of you are already familiar in your Polytechnic days. I decided to craft my speech with hints of Mathematical Terms in an Abstract form; letting your imagination run.
- Life is like a Matrix. Today, I hope to cover it like a 3 x 3-dimensional matrix due to my time constraint. But YOUR life matrix is far more than 3x3, it should contain more length and breadth of your passion and hard work journey in your future. Talking about “PASSION”, a keyword that has been emphasized in many inspirational talks. But, how many of you realised that the word “PASSION” came from the WORD “PATI” which means SUFFER in LATIN. There are many talks about waiting for the “BIG BANG” in your life and running towards it like there is no tomorrow. I would think otherwise.
- In my opinion, Life is MORE like a Taylor series, a summarisation of major and minor components. We should resist settling into one rigid career and instead try various and patiently waiting for one to take off.
History is Future Present.
- After I left Polytechnic, I worked as a Test Engineer. It was then that which I started to appreciate and master a subject that I dislike the most, which is “History”. The subject, History, is always about memorising facts, I would suggest the management team of the Polytechnic to consider blending History into the teaching of Engineer for a deeper appreciation of this subject. In fact, the word "Polytechnic" came from a Greek word “polytekhnos” which means “skilled in many arts."
- Not looking too far back as a student, I studied about Nyquist rate by Harry Nyquist, and was made popular by Engineer Shannon, who is also known as “the father of Information Theory”. Without them, we will not be able to design handheld devices that are small enough by sampling just sufficient that which you have learned in the Diploma for Info-Communication Engineering & Design.
- In fact, Niklaus Wirth, the inventor of Pascal language (back then I was taught by Mr. Rodney Dorville) is still alive today. His famous quote was “Software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware became faster” and indeed it’s so important to those graduating from the Diploma in Computer Engineering. Because, if a question is asked? “Hardware consume power, Why? It’s because software tells it to”. Don’t you realise for each of the IOS phone updates, it lasted longer, because the software becomes more efficient. So be involved in writing more efficient codes to save the earth.
- In nature, there is NO landfill. After billions of years, in the linear economy, we learnt to take, make and dispose of making the earth the largest landfill in the universe. Graduates from Diploma in Clean Energy and Energy System and Management would have a brilliant career awaiting them to participate in a circular economy which keep resources in use for as long as possible, to extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. The game changer would be “How can waste build capital rather than focusing on solely reducing waste.”
- Many famous engineers lead a colourful and vibrant lives besides being an engineer. Therefore, it is not boring to be an Engineer because “ENGINEERS ARE COOL”.
Going into the details.
- Thomas Carlyle, a Philosopher, once said: “Man is a tool-using animal, without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all mighty”. This is true because until the 16th Century, the workhorse was the only means to get more results beside human power. That is how we have the electrical terms such as HP (Horse-power). At the turn of the 16th century was known as Industry 1.0.
- In part of the proposal from the Future Economy Committee, Industry 4.0 was identified to be the key game changer to our current slow economy that we are experiencing. So graduates, be part of the future success driving factor and aim to write history for the world of engineering, especially in Singapore.
- In the new era, simulation, optimization, machine learning, AI, multi-discipline engineering field would be a new growth. So don’t be a regular Engineer, be a T-Engineer that has both breadth and depth.
- Digital economy is to here stay, the headlines from (ST) such as
“AI may replace a third of graduate jobs “ - April 6,
“Evidence that robots are winning the race for America Jobs “ - March 30
“Robots may take over 10 million jobs in Britain in15 years” – March 25
Does it mean we might be out-of-job after we graduated?
No, it just means that you have graduated on time for a new range of jobs.
We should not fear "smarter thinking machines" as these will free us to focus on performing even better.
So, we should stop thinking negatively about disruptive technology, we should learn to embrace them, instead of seeing it as a competition, we could reframe the threat of automation as an “opportunity for augmentation”.
Embracing in Digital economy is not about replacing job but enabling people to do things in the past that we can’t do.
Double Celebration on SP School of EEE 60th Anniversary
- If 57th graduation year is not easy to remember, then I would like to remind everyone that this year is 60th Anniversary for SP School of EEE.
- There are so many Singapore Polytechnic graduates that have made us proud; one of them is Mr Bill Chang (CEO) Group Enterprise of Singtel, the largest Telecommunications business in Singapore and an essential part of our Nation Building.
- The year 2017 is also ASEAN 50th Anniversary, I strongly encourage all graduates to look beyond Singapore to explore their career. Building a career and entrepreneurship may be difficult but rewarding. If you have not learnt any third language, I would like to suggest that you pick up an ASEAN language. In fact, it would be sustainable when expanding to ASEAN.
- Lastly, to achieve wealth in life is not always about dollar and cents sometimes it is about challenging your own boundaries. However, do take care of the family and social implications. I would like to conclude my speech with an inspiration quote from our current Minister of Labour, (Mr Lim Swee Say), who graduated in the field of System Engineering. During a dinner conversation, I asked him: “How does it feels like being a politician and not being able to practice engineering?”. He looked at me in dismay and replied. “You are wrong, I am still doing engineering, “social engineering”.” Hence, for those graduating from the Diploma in Engineering Systems, maybe you can consider becoming a politician.
I hope I have not left any graduates untouched today in my speech.
To Mr Soh, Principal & CEO of Singapore Polytechnic who was previously also from SP (Singapore Police), I believe that he will bring Singapore Polytechnic graduates to the next level – engineering not just technically but engineered with social responsibility.
- To end my speech, allow me to share something close to my heart, 3 takeaways:
- “Your diploma would be obsolete in 5 years’ time”
- Re-Engineer the Topics of Math’s and Engineering Subject to apply to your career and life like I did in this speech.
- And Lastly, to answer “Why do you want to contribute back to SP?”
“SP has contributed to MY / YOUR success”