On 19 and 20 January 2005, the fifth SMA Annual Symposium saw a gathering of over 400 participants from academia, industry, and government at the Orchard Hotel. This two-day event showcased SMA’s research during the past year as well as included discussions about the future of higher education, engineering science and Singapore.
Among the many invited guests in attendance on the opening day were top-level representatives of the three universities: Professor Shih Choon Fong, President of NUS; Dr Su Guaning, President of NTU; and Professor Robert Brown, Provost of MIT. The keynote speaker was Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry and the two invited guest speakers were Professor Sir David Lane, Executive Director of the Institute of Molecular & Cell Biology in Singapore and Professor Thomas Magnanti, Dean of the School of Engineering at MIT.
The 2005 Symposium marked an important point in the SMA collaboration. This year’s event recognised the continued success of three SMA programmes into their second phase with two new programmes that will form the second phase of the SMA partnership.
In his keynote address, Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Lim, said, “The partnership between MIT and the Singapore universities is set to achieve new heights with the second phase of SMA. SMA-2 will build on the excellent partnership established so far under phase one and will broaden its scope to include new graduate degrees in the life sciences, in addition to science and engineering fields.” Mr Lim then added, “Under SMA-2, the educational partnership is further enhanced with the programme offering dual Masters degrees from MIT and a Singapore University. In addition, there will be greater focus on research and doctoral training; building on the good collaborations made in education.”
In a special address, the MIT Provost, Professor Brown, said, “Collaborations that will really advance the formal of world-class research hubs must be broad and deep and involve programmes in education and research and serious exchanges of people back and forth.”
Centered on the theme of “Frontiers in Innovative Technologies”, the Symposium sought to challenge and expand the typical definitions of engineering and science that were held by those in attendance. Considering the impressive and varied nature of the students, faculty, researchers and SMA alumni who had travelled from around the world for this event, this was no small task. However, it was clear that two major highlights of this year’s conference were the stimulating presentations by the distinguished speakers - “Making Biology Work” by Professor Sir David Lane and “Turning Engineers into Entrepreneurs” by Professor Thomas Magnanti.
During the remaining Symposium events, the faculty, students, Fellows, and invited guests had a choice to attend a series of technical programme sessions. These smaller settings were utilised in order to facilitate more specialised meetings and discussions, so that attendees could more fully immerse themselves in the research and findings that had been made possible through the SMA collaboration. A total of 91 research papers and 16 posters were presented collectively by the six programmes.
A special social feature of the Symposium was a joint reception hosted by SMA, the SMA Alumni Club, MIT and the MIT Club of Singapore on the evening of 19 January at the Meritus Mandarin Hotel.