What do a data analyst, a researcher, a systems engineer, and a biotechnologist have in common?
They are all part of one of Singapore’s most in-demand job fields today: science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), especially as Singapore continues its progress towards becoming a smart nation.
Furthermore, “science, technology and innovation will be critical to overcome Covid-19 and in enabling us to emerge stronger," said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at a press conference last December to lay out the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plan.
The plan sets aside $25 billion to focus on the areas of health, sustainability, the digital economy, and manufacturing; with firm support for basic research.
These are broad areas which Singapore plans to develop its capabilities in for instance to tackle its rapidly ageing population – and this means nurturing the next generation of talent with the skills to do so.
Graduates in these fields can look forward to working in sectors with huge potential for continuous innovation and growth.
Joining growth industries, and making a difference in lives
Those looking to pursue a career in these fields can opt for education pathways offered by schools such as PSB Academy.
Which is why PSB Academy’s School of Engineering and Technology and School of Life and Physical Sciences are presenting STEM Day for prospective students to discover the variety of courses on offer and find a course that suits their interests.
“STEM subjects are disciplines that can bring about huge impact and lasting improvement to humankind," says PSB Academy’s Dr Charles Ong, head of the School of Life and Physical Sciences.
“A STEM education trains students to think critically and to take a logical and analytical approach to identifying and solving problems. These skills are crucial for when they start working and especially when they progress into more managerial roles,” he adds.
Such skill sets, he adds, can grow expertise in the field of life sciences – an urgent necessity to manage the Covid-19 virus and develop vaccines for the evolving mutations.
Dr Ong adds that Singapore’s status as a leading hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing in Southeast Asia will create opportunities for graduates, especially as the sector faces the challenge of finding quality talent.
Vaccine maker BioNTech’s recent announcement of making Singapore its regional headquarters and setting up a mRNA manufacturing facility here is one example of how the sector is rapidly expanding.
Similarly, Dr Balamurugan Karuppiah, head of the School of Engineering and Technology, agrees that there are plenty of career options for graduates of STEM courses.
“These can range from newer technology fields such as cybersecurity and data science, to more traditional fields of manufacturing and banking and finance,” he says.
Creating an environment that supports multi-faceted learning
To nurture future talents in these fields, PSB Academy adopts an interdisciplinary approach to a STEM education.
Via bachelor’s degrees offered by well-known overseas universities such as Australia’s La Trobe University, Edith Cowan University, The University of Newcastle, Australia, and Coventry University in the UK, students will deep dive into the fundamentals of four specific disciplines: Life Sciences, Sports Science, Engineering, Cybersecurity, and IT & Computer Science.
Classes are held across both its City Campus in Marina Square and dedicated STEM Campus in Toa Payoh, and students attend lectures for theory-based learning, and labs for hands-on workshops.
The courses cater to a variety of academic levels. Those interested in engineering and can take a Foundation Certificate until postgraduate level, while those keen to pursue life sciences and sports science can get started with a foundation diploma.
“Our students come from very varied backgrounds. For instance, some of our life science students may not have studied Biology. It is important that we first focus on ensuring all students build a strong foundation as a start,” says Dr Ong.
A unique approach practical learning
Classes are a mix of lectures, projects and assignments. A crucial part of STEM education at PSB Academy is its focus on practical training.
“Not only does hands-on training equip students with skills relevant to the industry, it also promotes active learning and better retention of knowledge,” says Dr Ong.
He adds: “At PSB Academy, we work closely with both our overseas university partners and industry advisory panels to ensure that we provide industry relevant hands-on training through our well-equipped laboratories.”
Students enjoy opportunities to put classroom theory into practice at the campus’ life sciences and chemistry, sports, computer and engineering labs.
Select bachelors courses also come with a work experience component. For instance, The University of Newcastle, Australia's engineering courses lets students undergo a 12 week job attachment with a company.
School of Engineering and Technology undergraduates can also become student chapter members of professional associations such as Institution of Engineers Singapore and Institution of Engineering and Technology, where they can widen their networks and attend events and seminars.