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Newsletter 2000

Message from SMAAC President

smaac president picAfter four months of hard work, it brings me great pride and pleasure to announce the successful registration of our Club with the Singapore Immigration & Registration (SIR) on 16 October 2000.

First, I must thank the Pro-tem Committee and volunteers who had contributed their precious time and effort into making this a reality.

I am also happy to receive overwhelming responses in the activities that we had organised before our registration with SIR.The participation from the alumni and current students has been very encouraging.

The Singapore-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alliance Alumni Club (SMAAC) was started by a small group of alumni from the first batch of Singapore-MIT Alliance graduates on 01 July 2000, the day after we graduated!

The main objective of the Alumni Club is to establish a strong and active network amongst the members. One of the exciting events organised was the gathering for the alumni and the new students at the East Coast Park chalet.

That was the first time the "old" and "new" students of SMA met. Other than enjoying the games that were organised by the Pro-tem Committee, the new students also took the opportunity to seek advice from the graduates about the courses in SMA. Our Co-Director, Prof Hang, and many other faculties from the three courses in SMA were also present.

As the number of programmes increases from the original two to five in 2001, we would like to see the cohesiveness among the alumni, students and faculties grow stronger, instead of being diluted. This cohesiveness would be established from the many sleepless nights that we endure throughout our course.It would be a bittersweet memory that we would like to keep for many years.This cohesiveness will be a trademark of SMAAC members.

Alvin Teng Hua Juay

First Annual General Meeting

The SMA Alumni Club (SMAAC) held its first AGM on 17 December 2000. This culminates six months of hard work put in by some of the pioneer batch of SMA graduates.The AGM, which was held at the Function Room of Signature Park, was attended by both Ordinary Members and Associate Members of the Club.

During the AGM, Mr Alvin Teng, President of the Pro-tem Committee, announced the successful registration of the club with the Singapore Immigration and Registration on 16 October 2000. This was followed by reports from Mr Tan Boon Kiat and Mr Mong San Ping on the membership and financial status of the Club respectively. Alvin thanked all members of the Pro-tem Committee for their hard work in making the formation and registration of the Club a success.

The Pro-tem Committee was then resolved and an election held for the First Management Committee. The members elected to the First SMAAC Management Committee are as follows:

In addition, Ms Shidrati Ali and Mr Jian Hong Tao were elected as the Honorary Auditors of the Club.

At the end of the AGM, everyone was treated to a scrumptious buffet dinner. The 1st Management Committee looks forward to organising more activities for the members during its term in office. The committee also hopes for more active participation from its student members.

Tee Chin Wee

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SMA Commencement Ceremony

On 21 July 2000, the first Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA) Commencement Ceremony was held at the University Cultural Center.It was a grand event with our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Dr Tony Tan being the guest-of-honour.

When I reached the Center, all the graduates were already there.Some were busy trying to look their smartest, proudly strutting in front of the mirror and adjusting their gowns.û There were some who had already donned on their gown, busy taking pictures with their family and friends.û The atmosphere was lively and contagious as I can feel myself equally excited.How I wished I was one of them!

At 10:30 am, the Pro-Chancellor, Dr Maurice Baker, declared the Ceremony open.û Dr Tony Tan then delivered the opening address. The graduates, who had been eagerly anticipating this day, were presented by Prof Hang Chang Chieh and Prof Merton C Flemings, the Co- Directors of SMA.There was joyous cheer and applause for all the 36 graduates from

grad photoPioneer Batch of SMA Graduates (1999-2000)

The Advanced Materials and High Performance Computation for Engineered Systems courses.The graduates were presented their scrolls and certificates by the Pro-Chancellor. Book Prizes were also handed out to outstanding students for achieving the highest scores in individual courses for both programmes.

Our valedictorian, Mr Teh Weng Hong, then delivered his valedictory speech. He gave the new batch of SMA students an insight as to the challenges that lie ahead of them. He advised us to persevere in times of hardship and to constantly encourage one another. Lastly, he reminded us to play as hard as we study.

The Commencement Ceremony was declared closed at 11:30 am.The guests and graduates then adjourned to the foyer for a tea reception. I noticed that the graduates were busy congratulating each other, taking more photos and mingling around with the professors.

It was a proud day for all associated with SMA.With the pioneer batch of SM students having already graduated, I cannot wait for my graduation to come, when I can then be counted among those who had survived this arduous course and be known as an SMA graduate.

Contributed by:
Helen Chuwardi

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Valedictory Speech

The editorial team is very grateful to Mr Teh Weng Hong for his permission to publish his valedictory speech delivered during the inaugural SMA Commencement Ceremony. Below is a copy of his speech in its entirety.

Mr Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor of NUS, President of NTU, Distinguished Guests, Fellow Graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen. My fellow classmates. Welcome to the 1st Singapore-MIT Alliance commencement. I promise I will be brief.

valedictorian photoMr Teh Weng Hong delivering his valedictory speech

As I stand here, it is an understatement to say that I feel honoured to represent all of my fellow classmates. I'm often humbled by their exceptional background and academic achievements.It's simply mind-blowing.

Just a few weeks ago, I gave a presentation about Copper Metallization for my thesis report. Months ago, most of us were busy with the final exams and also term papers. And all year round, tones of assignments and deadlines to meet... oh, yes we could never escape from that, could we? Life just got extremely hectic since July last year. Summer term was an unforgettable experience for the Advanced Materials students.The many so-called "highlights" of this term included a mid-term exam in MIT, where some of us had no choice but to study during the flight to Boston. And because some of us had no computing facility back home, we had to camp out at the student's atheneum in order to finish our assignments.The High Performance Computing students were not in any easier shape, if not worse, their relatively less-heavy pre-immersion term turned out to be brief, when the intensity of their workload escalates enormously upon returning from MIT. "Getting an Education from MIT is like taking a drink from a Fire Hose", said former MIT president, Jerome Weisner. This definitely applied to all SMA students as well.

"Whatever for?", you may wonder, "Why make life so difficult?", you may ask. This is how we SMA students see it. In light of the rapidly changing nature of today's world, our only defense is to gain the proper attitude towards life and all its ups and downs. To us, all the hard work that we had in SMA is a test to see whether we have the will to face adversity and continue to expend huge amounts of energy in spite of it.All this to bring us a step closer towards graduation, which seems like an impossibly far-off goal at that time. Eventually, we see that all the effort was worth it. It is deeply satisfying to complete this coursefiin one piece, that isfiand the pride goes to all of our families and friends.

By not giving in, to hardships and resigning ourselves to something less than what we have always wanted, we continued on fighting. And in the process of doing so, we learnt the importance of qualities usch as resilience, patience, interpendence and of course, humour. Qualities, which we can all bring onto the real world, outside the ivory tower of academics.Intrinsic qualities, which are meaningful in all aspects of life.

And it is these very qualities that compliment the entrepreneurial spirit that is found everywhere in Singapore-MIT Alliance. An entrepreueurial spirit that will inspire innovative ideas to provide and create solution.

We won't all become rich and famous; not all of us want to; but every one of us has a chance of attaining "success".
a "success", which surpasses any form of superficial cultural prosperity
a "success", which is far more meaningful, when defined in his or her very own way
a "success" which will last a lifetime.

I am happy to have had so many opportunities and formed so many friendships here in Singapore. Indeed, Singapore is an ideal place for international students like myself to study, work and play.I have enjoyed the hospitality given to me by many of the local students and professors here. On that note, on behalf of the pioneer batch of SMA graduates, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who had helped us along the way, our parents for their unconditional love, the three alliance universities MIT/NUS/NTU and their lecturers for their inspiring education, the industries for their continuous support, the SMA Office and of course to our friends and loved ones.

It goes to all if I take this moment to emphasize my thanks to my Mum and Dad for their consistent shower of love in both good and bad times, for without them, I would not be here in the first place.

Let us take a moment to honor all of them.

Singapore-MIT Alliance Graduating Class of 2000, I give you my valediction. Let us get involved actively in the SMA Alumni to rekindle old friendships, establish networking opportunities, foster entrepreneurial activities, or simply to have some fun.

Take the tools and ideas that we had learnt, and you can go as far as you want in life, as high above the clouds as you can think of.

Dream... Believe... Inspire... Do Good...


Thank you for a memorable year.

Teh Weng Hong
Valedictorian, 1999-2000

Weng Hong is presently pursuing his PhD at Cambridge University. We wish him the very best.

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SMA Commencement Dinner

The SMA Commencement Dinner was held at Shangri-La Hotel in the evening of 21 July 2000.It was organised by SMA Office in appreciation of those who had played a part in the success of the SMA programmes and SMA as a whole.

It was therefore not surprising that most of the SMA Fellows were there together with other dignitaries including our Co-Directors, Prof M Flemings and Prof C C Hang, the Programme Chairs, and our very own Alumni Club President and Vice-President. Unfortunately, the SMA Fellows from MIT were not able to join us. The Vice-Chancellor of NUS, President of NTU, Dean of Science Faculty, NUS, several Heads of Departments in Engineering Faculty (NUS and NTU) and various other guests also graced the occasion.Students from the various students' committees were invited as well.

dinner photoDignitaries at Commencement Dinner 2000

The two Co-Directors delivered a couple of inspiring speeches before dinner commenced. One point noted was that they had actually planned to start SMA in the year 2000 since they were not sure that things could be settled by 1999. The dinner itself was a friendly affair with lots of chatting and laughter.

An awards ceremony was held to present certificates of appreciation to the various members of the three students' committees midway through the dinner. Prof Hang was invited to present the certificates. Ms Yang Changjun, who was designated to be our Alumni Club photographer for the dinner, had a bit of a difficulty having to take her own picture when she came out to receive her certificate.

All in all, the dinner was a cozy affair between people who had gone through an experience together. It was just the thing to cap off the Commencement.

Contributed by:
Shidrati Ali

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SMA Unleashed on America: Part Deux

The second intake of SMA students traveled to Boston in July 2000 hell bent on maximizing the potential for sightseeing and of course to attend a few lectures. Suffice to say this year's students were far more hardcore than those of the previous year, traveling to destinations such as (but not limited to) San Francisco, Pittsburgh, New York, Ohio, Toronto and Washington.A new standard has been set.

With the flights having been arranged fairly late, it meant that the approximately eighty-strong contingent had to travel in three separate groups.The lucky ones managed to get a direct flight and accommodation in a hotel for the duration while the unlucky ones were to get a twelve hour layover in Seattle and then accommodation in a hostel.The groups were chosen randomly although fifty dollars in the right direction will get you everywhere (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Arrival at Boston's Logan Airport was sullied by rain and bitter cold winds, a taste of things to come (unseasonal weather marred the trip throughout with only a handful of days of bright sunshine). However everyone was in good spirits; we were after all in a foreign country.

The first two full days consisted of lectures from various people involved in startups. From venture capitalists to the inventors themselves, each gave their own unique perspective on technopreneurship.This series was an attempt by SMA to instill in the students the "MIT Flavour" and it worked.The lectures were quite inspirational.

The first weekend saw many students traveling to New York where sleep was disregarded in favour of covering as much of the city as possible in the short time allowed. Empire State Building, Wall Street, Statue of Liberty, Central Park and lots of museums/art galleries. One student upon putting his bag through the metal detector at the top of the Empire State Building suffered the ignominy of being asked by security whether he had a knife in his bag. As fifty or so tourists looked on he sheepishly pulled out a tiny pocket knife only to find out it was his sunglasses that had set the machine off. Many students were at a loss to explain the large amount of "freaks" in New York.

at MIT photo

Towards the Future We Progress

Monday saw the start of the lectures and lab sessions that were to occupy our remaining time in Boston. These offered the students a chance to meet and interact with the professors that would be teaching them over the next year.

The second weekend saw further exploration of the country.Some more students went to New York while others remained in the Boston area. However, the craziest group hired a number of vehicles and drove all the way to Niagara Falls. One carload even drove on to Toronto and then over to Cape Cod south of Boston before returning. This involved about 35 hours of driving and about 8 hours of actually being outside the vehicle over the weekend. The author has it on good authority that the lack of personal hygiene over the period led to some "interesting" smells. Provincetown on Cape Cod certainly left a big impression on the students who visited. There is a very large (and very out) gay community in the seaside resort town and while the drag queens seemed harmless enough no one risked upsetting them with a photo.

The last week saw many groups going to Boston for a meal of lobster and fresh seafood. The best deal would have to be the one chanced upon by a group of AM students. They found a restaurant in Chinatown that would supply three lobsters for ten dollars, a much better option than one for 40 dollars!

dinner photo 2

Where are the lobsters?

While the students made the most of the opportunity, doing a lot of traveling and scouting for cheap lobster,they also learnt a lot about MIT and the professors who will be teaching them over the coming months. In that respect the trip was a success.

Contributed by:
Richard Ian Hickman


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The Beach Thing

On 02 September 2000, the SMA Alumni Club organised its first gathering for its members. The gathering was held at the East Coast Costa Sands Resort. About 50 members participated in this event.The aim of the gathering was to let the old and new members interact among themselves and get to know one another better.

All those who were present that day were grouped into four groups, namely Spade, Heart, Clover and Diamond. The first game played was Scavenger Hunt. Each group was given a list of tasks that they must perform within 30 minutes. The tasks included finding five sweet wrappers and five different kinds of cans, asking a stranger to sing a song, looking for the longest hair and biggest palm etc. Well, the rubbish bins were the center of attraction that day because it was the one place where the "treasures" existed.The victor of this game was the Diamond group.

The second game was the Dog-and-Bone game led by Mong.It is a game whereby participants from both teams competed against each other by snatching the "bone" and running towards their team without the opponent players tagging them. Body contact was thus unavoidable, especially when the players could not "brake" on time and crashed head on into their opponents.However, most of the participants did not mind that at all. A hug and a handshake were all that took to clear up any misunderstanding. Some participants realised that the best way to win this game was to wait for their opponents to get the "bone" before tagging him. All in all, everybody had an enjoyable time despite being eventually covered in sand and sweat

After the Dog-and-Bone game, there was still three more hours before dinner so everybody was allowed to interact and participate in whatever activities they liked. Since water sports are the main attraction at East Coast Park, many decided to go canoeing.There were some who went cycling too. After a week of rushing assignments, it was great fun to be outdoors, feeling the wind blowing and the sun shining pleasantly on us.

At 7:00 pm, the buffet dinner began. There were chicken wings, sweet and sour fish, butter prawn, vegetarian fried rice and other delicious dishes.There is a saying that hungry stomach makes the food tastes better and everyone tucked in heartily.Having engaging in all the activities in the afternoon, it was high time we replenished the energy drained away and treated ourselves to a delicious meal.Many of us also took this opportunity to engage in conversations with DVC Hang and SMA Fellows such as Prof Chua, Prof Yue and Dr Teo as well as our seniors who are now in the workforce.

After the dinner, it was time for some light activities.Mong, Nang Laik, and Alvin each took turns to sing a song while Boon Kiat played the guitar.The Diamond group sang two songs, accompanied by lively dance steps. Another group sent a representative to sing a Chinese song.Dengliang from the Spade group presented a martial arts performance. Boon Kiat and his friend also sang some songs for us.The lovely music floated in the air around us, draining away our tiredness. The performances delighted the audience and there was loud applause for the performers. The performances concluded with DVC Hang showing us a Taiji demonstration. It was a true eye-opener for us. It was also a challenge for our photographer, Wu Fang, who was trying to take down all the interesting movements before they "flashed" past her.

The gathering ended at around 8:30 pm and everyone left for home with scores of new friends and loads of beautiful memories.

Contributed by:
Low Sok Chay

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beach photo 1Preparing to be Dogs-of-War

beach photo 2

SMAAC Logo Competition Results

The SMAAC Management Committee is happy to announce that Ms Wu Fang's design (below) has been selected as the winning design of the SMAAC Logo Competition.

smaac logo

The description of the logo is as follows:

smaac logo diagram

This design shall henceforth be adopted as the official logo of SMAAC (pending approval from SIR).

Announcements and Upcoming Events

Are you deskbound? Are you shackled with a ball and chain? ESCAPE from the chain-gang and join us for a day of incessant adventure and fun... a bushwalk at Pulau Ubin! The SMAAC will be organizing a day trip to Pulau Ubin some time in March 2001. Keep a lookout for more information.

General Enquiry

Please send any enquiry, comment or suggestion to sma_alumni@sina.com.

Editorial Board

Samer Ansari
Helen Chuwardi
Girdhar Gupta
Low Sok Chay
Ma Nang Laik
Shidrati Ali
Franklin Tan
Tee Chin Wee
Wee Hock Guan
Wu Fang
Yang Changjun

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