From Normal stream to PhD course

01 Aug 2016

The Straits Times, 31 Jul 2016 - Article featured two SP graduates who shared their journeys from the Normal stream in secondary school to studying for PhDs. Diploma in Computer Engineering alumnus and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) graduate, Ernest Tan, shared how he did not bother studying much in secondary school as he had no interest in the subjects he was doing. This changed when he studied Communications Technology in ITE, and his interest in computers pushed him to believe that he could continue into polytechnic. His determination allowed him to maintain good grades in NTU. His final-year project (FYP) impressed his FYP supervisor who then linked him up with aerospace firm Airbus for an internship. As part of the Industrial Postgraduate Programme introduced by the Economic Development Board, he was able to enrol in NTU’s PhD in Computer Engineering course as well as work to gain industry experience. Ernest is now a research engineer at Airbus, working on improving the use of radio frequencies for aeronautical communications. Diploma in Chemical Process alumnus and NTU graduate, Nigel Tan, shared about how he was unable to focus on his PSLE preparations as his family had to downgrade to a two-room rental flat due to his father’s business going bankrupt. As a result, he did not do well for his PSLE and entered Normal (Academic) Stream. His parents could not find stable jobs and later divorced. At 14, he became a part-time chef while studying to support his mother and two younger sisters financially. Nigel eventually topped his N-level cohort at Marsiling Secondary School but later struggled with his studies at polytechnic. With the encouragement from his mother, he persevered and did well enough to enter university. Initially he wanted to work immediately after national service but after working for a year, he realised that he needed a degree to go far professionally. He entered NTU in 2013 as a student in Material Science and Engineering. Nigel is now a Graduate Research Officer, allowing him to work full-time and pursue his part-time postgraduate studies in NTU.


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