SUTD takes in 17% more students this year

Pie cafe co-owner Sean Gwee and Ms Porndee Chua, who has a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University, are among SUTD's latest batch of 332 undergraduates.
Pie cafe co-owner Sean Gwee and Ms Porndee Chua, who has a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University, are among SUTD's latest batch of 332 undergraduates.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Quality of 332 admitted is 'high' amid space for 500

After admitting 283 students last year, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) has opened its doors further this time by taking in 332 for its latest cohort.

The third batch of undergraduates - 17 per cent bigger than the previous one - will start classes next week.

A spokesman for the school, which has space for 500 for each cohort, said that the quality of new students "continues to be high", though no further details were given.

Its intake numbers had, in the past, raised questions about whether the institution was being too selective. When it opened in 2012, it received more than 4,000 applications and admitted 340.

SUTD president Thomas Magnanti had explained the shortfall then by saying the university had gone for "quality, not quantity", because of its "rigorous" curriculum codeveloped with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

Besides having good grades, applicants need to write a 500-word essay about themselves. They are also invited to submit portfolios, videos and personal blogs to support their applications.

Shortlisted applicants then face a panel interview.

The first year's intake was higher than the next two years because the school had drawn applicants from two different cohorts of students, some of whom had been willing to wait a year to start classes.

The number of applications it received for last year and this year were not given by the school.

As with previous years, more than 40 per cent of students admitted this time are female, in line with the university's aim to draw more women to engineering.

One of them is Ms Porndee Chua, whose mother is Thai and father a Singaporean.

She already has a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University but wants to learn about architecture and sustainable design.

"I'd like to learn how to apply knowledge in a real-world context and work with people from other disciplines," said the 22-year-old.

SUTD, which partners MIT, and China's Zhejiang University, offers specialisation in four areas: architecture and sustainable design; engineering product development; engineering systems and design; and information systems technology and design.

Another new student is Mr Sean Gwee, the co-owner of pie cafe Windowsill Pies in Jalan Besar.

While running the business, he decided to learn more about topics such as supply chain logistics and kitchen and interior design.

"I want to have the rigour of a technical education," said the 22-year-old, who took two years off after serving national service to set up the business with his older brother.

"I've always been inclined towards humanities subjects, but I want to explore something I've never done before."

SUTD, Singapore's fourth university, was set up to give students an option to explore a multi-disciplinary education, cutting across fields like engineering, design and the humanities.

The school, which will move from its holding location in Dover Drive to its permanent Changi campus next year, plans to eventually have 4,000 undergraduates and 2,000 postgraduate students.

It currently has close to 1,000 students.