SMA-2 is no longer a concept, or a proposal, or even just an agreement. For the first time, real educational blood — our first intake of students — is flowing through what was previously just a lifeless collection of cohort estimates, admissions regulations, travel trajectories, distance technology assessments, degree definitions, graduation schedules, residency requirements, financial arrangements, collaboration plans, proposal evaluations, and intellectual property agreements.
Our students are no longer paper idealizations but rather real individuals from all over the world who have been independently admitted into elite MIT and NUS/NTU programs and will soon be traveling between the partner universities both physically and virtually as they work towards Masters and PhD degrees at MIT and at NUS/NTU and participate in collaborative research efforts between MIT, NUS/NTU, and A*STAR.
Each of these SMA-2 students — in our four initial SMA-2 programmes “Advanced Materials for Micro- and Nano-Systems,” “Computational Engineering,” “Manufacturing Systems and Technology,” and “Computation and Systems Biology” — represents considerable investment. The investors — the students themselves, but also of course the Singapore stakeholders and the partner universities — are expecting very good returns: professional foundations for a lifetime of technical innovation, research advances in strategically important areas, rewarding and productive careers in one of the most rapidly growing regions of the world, and an improved international spirit of cooperation in a time of global stress.
We must all be hands-on investors: we must collectively create the environment, expectations, connections, opportunities, and mentorship to ensure the success of each student — and hence SMA-2.