Being future-ready: Why SIT-TUM's new specialised joint degree programme will keep her agile in the chemical industry

Due to her interest in digital transformation and Industry 4.0 topics,
Ms Agnes Chew instantly knew that the unique programme jointly offered by the Singapore Institute of Technology and the Technical University of Munich was the one for her

Ms Agnes Chew found her groove at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), where she is not only pursuing a unique joint degree programme in Chemical Engineering but also enjoying a vibrant varsity life through her passion for dancing. PHOTO: SIT

When students apply for university, they may submit multiple applications to different tertiary institutions, in the hopes of receiving a positive reply from at least one. 

But that was not the case for Ms Agnes Chew. The 22-year-old knew exactly what she wanted from the start. 

While many of her peers applied to multiple universities, she only applied to the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). Driven by a keen interest in chemistry and physics since secondary school, her first choice of study was Chemical Engineering, a programme jointly offered by SIT and the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

It is the first joint degree programme in Singapore to include Industry 4.0 topics that focus on how digital transformation revolutionises industry processes. The curriculum ensures that graduates remain relevant to the current and future needs of the chemical industry.

“Before I sent in my application, I made a comparison of different degree programmes,” says Ms Chew. “What stood out for me was the Chemical Engineering joint degree programme offered by SIT and TUM, especially its Data Engineering specialisation. I was keen to learn how data empowers chemical engineering. There were also various modules in the programme that I believed would be very relevant to my understanding of the industry in the future. And of course, I was drawn to the opportunity to study in Germany!” 

Data Engineering is one of two specialisations under SIT-TUM, the other being Additive Manufacturing. Students can choose to pursue either one in their third year of the four-year direct honours degree programme. 

In a nutshell, data engineering is the process of designing systems for collecting and processing data on a large scale. Ms Chew recognised how industrial automation makes the data engineering part of chemical engineering particularly relevant.

“I think it is unique to have such a specialisation offered under a chemical engineering degree programme, although it may not seem directly relevant at first. With the gradual automation of many industrial processes, this specialisation would make me more well-equipped to adapt to the ever-changing industry,” she says.

Hear from Ms Chew on her life as a SITizen:

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A supportive community at SIT

Ms Chew did have some initial concerns about being in the pioneer cohort.  

“There were a lot of unknowns,” she recalls. “It was a new environment for us, and I didn’t know what would happen at all.”

Much of the difficulty in adjusting was a result of the different timetable systems implemented by SIT and TUM. While SIT uses a trimester system with multiple modules per term, the TUM curriculum focuses intensively on one module at a time in two-week blocks.

Ms Chew says it took her some time to get used to the different pace of learning for the SIT and TUM curricula. 

Furthermore, as someone who was familiar with applied chemistry and not engineering subjects, she found herself stymied by the more engineering-heavy foundational modules. 

“There was a lot of foundational knowledge that I was not familiar with,” she says. “Initially, I was under a lot of stress – up until the day before the exam finals.”

But, thankfully, there was a strong sense of camaraderie among the pioneer cohort. Ms Chew found herself buoyed by the help offered by course mates who had studied chemical engineering at polytechnic. 

“My friends really helped me a lot,” she says, as she recounts how they tutored her on concepts she was unfamiliar with.  

It wasn’t just her peers who looked out for Ms Chew. The faculty also took extra steps to ensure that every student got the help they needed, such as holding regular question-and-answer sessions online.

“Even if I didn’t have questions, I would still attend to see what other students were asking,” she says. "It helped deepen my foundational knowledge."

This spirit of community and mutual support was what inspired her to run for president of the Chemical Engineering Student Management Committee (SMC). When she succeeded in becoming the president, Ms Chew was put in charge of student life affairs. 

“When I started out in this programme, I didn’t know anybody,” she says. “Later, I realised that SMC could be a really good platform to get to know more like-minded people.”

Her work as committee president included planning events such as an online games night for her cohort, packing student welfare packs, and acting as a point of contact between the student body, the faculty, and SIT’s Student Life Division. 

“It was difficult to engage with course mates during the pandemic and SMC provided a good opportunity for me to do so.”

Having been a dancer all her life, from primary school to polytechnic, Ms Chew relished the opportunity to get into the groove with SIT’s contemporary dance club, ‘Poco A Poco’. 

“The best part of being part of the club is being able to meet friends from different programmes and different campuses,” she says. 

As many of her dance teammates were batchmates from the modern dance club at her former polytechnic, she enjoyed reconnecting with old friends even as she made new ones, thankful that her time at SIT provides her with a well-rounded varsity experience.

  • Applications for admission to SIT in AY2022 now open till March 19, 2022. Click here for more information on the admissions application process.

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