MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


The Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA) is a global partnership in graduate education among MIT, The National University of Singapore (NUS), and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). It aims to set a new standard for international collaboration in graduate research and education, to invigorate engineering education in Singapore, and to strengthen MIT through extending its global impact, enhancing its curriculum, and improving its infrastructure.


SMA was initiated on January 1, 1999, with students in the first two of the five planned "Programmes" started on July 1, 1999. These first two Programmes are "Advanced Materials" (AM) and "High Performance Computation for Engineered Systems" (HPCES). The third programme on "Innovation in Manufacturing Systems and Technology" is scheduled to begin in July, 2000, and Programmes in "Chemical Engineering" and "Computer Science and Engineering" are scheduled to begin in July 2001.

The academic calendar, course content, grading method and degree requirements for the three degrees offered in each Programme follow to large extent MIT practice and standards. The university hosting the program (NUS or NTU) awards degrees to successful graduates. Students also receive a SMA certificate confirming the completion of the program of study.

Each Programme will have a minimum of 6 faculty members from MIT, devoting up to half time to SMA, and an equivalent number from either NUS or NTU. Those devoting half time to SMA are designated "SMA Faculty Fellows." Targeted number of students enrolled in each Programme is 54. Of these, approximately 30 will be professional masters students enrolled in a one-year (12-month) course of study. The remainder will be research masters and doctorates.

Subjects are taught largely by distance education (DE). In addition to the distance education aspect of the Alliance, MIT Faculty Fellows will spend several weeks a year in Singapore in face-to-face lecturing and research collaboration. All SMA students will spend at least two weeks at MIT during their matriculation; doctoral students will spend a full semester at MIT. An annual symposium in Singapore will be held to evaluate progress and enable students and faculty to interact with industry.

Research comprises an important aspect of the research master and doctorate. Theses of all SMA research students are jointly supervised by an MIT and a Singaporean faculty member.


SMA is governed at the top by a "Governing Board" comprising academic, government and industrial leaders in Singapore and members of the faculty and administration at MIT. This Board is roughly comparable to a board of directors. At the next level down, a "Joint Academic Committee" meets quarterly (usually via video-conferencing). This committee comprises administration and faculty both from Singapore and MIT; its function is similar to that of a School Council. The individual academic "Programmes" are directed by "Faculty Chairs" (one from MIT and one from Singapore), responsibilities of these Chairs are similar to those of a Department Head.

Administratively, SMA is managed by two Co-Directors and two Deputy Directors, one each from Singapore and one from MIT. The MIT Co-Director is Merton C. Flemings, who also serves as Director of the MIT Center for the Singapore-MIT Alliance. Anthony T. Patera is Deputy Director and Anddie Chan is Assistant Director.


A total of 590 applications were received for the three programmes operating in academic year 2000—2001.149 offers were made and 106 applicants accepted the offers. Of these 37% were from China, 32% were from Singapore, 16% from India and the remainder from other South East Asian countries. GRE scores were waived for students from top schools in Singapore. However, those student scores obtained compare favorably with the scores of students being admitted to graduate school in MIT's Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering. Besides the draw of the MIT name, one factor that has aided in recruitment of top students is the fact that all students are offered full fellowship support (including travel costs) for their entire matriculation. Both GRE and TOEFL scores for the Class 2000 are slightly higher than last year’s class.


The SMA degrees in Advanced Materials offer broad foundations in advanced materials. They cover the fundamentals of electrical, optical, magnetic and mechanical properties of materials, and the fundamentals of processing of materials for high technology applications, with an emphasis on applications in microelectronics.

The S.M. degree (a professional master’s degree) in advanced materials constitutes a 12-month program, including three subjects in the necessary fundamentals, and three electives with a focus on microelectronics. The degree also offers students an opportunity to carry out a semester-long research or industry project. The M.Eng. degree (a research master’s degree) includes a similar, but more rigorous, core curriculum and a master’s thesis jointly supervised by SMA fellows from Singapore and MIT. The Ph.D. degree includes an expanded choice of elective subjects and a minor subject selection outside of the materials area.

The programme has enrolled 18 S.M. students and 15 M.Eng. and Ph.D. students. The M.Eng. and Ph.D. students had spent the fall 1999 term at MIT, taking two courses with the MIT students. They took the same exams as the regular MIT students and their performance was statistically indistinguishable from that of their MIT peers.

A number if innovations in distance education are being developed through the SMA programme. In fall 1999, a new tool developed at MIT was successfully used to remotely operate device characterization equipment at MIT from NUS. Additional distance education innovation is planned for the summer of 2000.

The research collaborations growing from co-supervision of M.Eng. and Ph.D. student research has already led to the submission of joint publications and presentations at an international conference. Joint research activities among the Alliance universities and Singaporean research institutes have also been initiated in a number of areas, especially in the area of metallization and materials reliability in microelectronics.

The MIT Chair of the Advanced Materials Programme is Carl V. Thompson. Faculty members involved include Subra Suresh (Programme Advisor) who stepped down as Programme Chair in February 2000 after his appointment as Head of DMSE at MIT, Lallit Anand, Dimitri A. Antoniadis, Criag Carter, Gerbrand Ceder, Joel P. Clark, and Eugene A. Fitzgerald as Faculty Fellows.


The SMA programme in High Performance Computation for Engineered Systems is focused on high performance computation–simulation and optimization–of engineered systems. High performance computation is a crucial component in the modeling, simulation, design, optimization, control and visualization of engineered systems in a wide range of technology and service industries. Students learn to apply and develop advanced numerical techniques for simulation and optimization relevant to a diverse set of applications from aerospace, electrical, industrial, mechanical, and other engineering fields, as well as logistics, management, and finance.

The S.M. (a professional master’s degree), M.Eng., and Ph.D. degree programs all include a core curriculum; the M.Eng. degree requires a master’s thesis; the Ph.D. degree also requires several additional advanced courses and a doctoral thesis. The S.M. degree focuses on the critical and effective application, modification, and integration of existing simulation and optimization software; the M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees emphasize the formulation, analysis, and implementation of new computational methods for the simulation and optimization of engineered systems.

From fall 1999 to Spring 2000, four subjects were taught to both SMA (via video-conferencing and taped lectures) and MIT students; three in the fall of 1999 and one in the spring of 2000. The SMA students performed very well when compared with the MIT cohort.

The HPCES programme has chosen the broad area of "Effective Computation for Design and Operation of Engineered Systems" as its research theme. There are already quite a few publications from the Singapore and MIT Fellows in conference proceedings and archival journals which cite SMA support.

The MIT Chair of the High Performance Computation for Engineered Systems Programme is Anthony T. Patera. Faculty members involved include Thomas Magnanti (Programme Advisor), Dimitris J. Bertsimas, Robert M. Freund, Thomas L. Magnanti, and Jaime Peraire, Jacob K. White as Faculty Fellows, and Georgia Perakis, Andreas Schulz and Nitin Patel as Associates.


Degree programs in Innovation in Manufacturing Systems and Technology (IMST) include the S.M., the M.Eng., and the Ph.D. IMST offers highly competitive courses of study that explore the many facets of manufacturing technology. Challenging coursework integrates the process, product, system and business aspects of this vibrant industry, while focusing on the core of manufacturing systems. Advanced coursework will expose students to innovative theories and methodology, as well as a rigorous investigation of financial, strategic and global aspects of technology innovation and new business generation.

The S.M., M.Eng., and Ph.D. degree programs all include a core curriculum; the S.M. degree includes a theme project; the M.Eng. degree includes a Master's level research thesis; the Ph.D. degree includes additional subjects on advanced topics in each of the fundamental areas.

The S.M. degree program is aimed at practitioners who will use this knowledge to become leaders in existing, as well as emerging, manufacturing companies. The M.Eng. and Ph.D. degree programs will prepare students for careers in industrial research and development centers, research institutes or academic departments interested in fundamental research in manufacturing.

The MIT Chair of the Innovation in Manufacturing Systems and Technology Programme is David E. Hardt. Faculty members involved include Lallit Anand, Jung-Hoon Chun, Steven D. Eppinger, Lawrence M. Wein and Kamal Youcef-Toumi as Faculty Fellows. Stanley B. Gershwin as Associate.


All SMA students spend two and a half weeks at MIT as part of the "Pre-Immersion" and "Immersion" Programmes. The Pre-Immersion Programme comprises discussions with entrepreneurs in the fields. The Immersion Programme comprises of lectures and lab sessions taught by MIT faculty.


MIT’s Center for Advanced Educational Services, under the direction of Richard C. Larson, has assumed responsibility for the technology and operation of the distance learning aspects of SMA. SMA staff work closely with CAES staff in selecting modes of operation and necessary equipment through an SMA Distance Education Working Group jointly chaired by Anddie Chan (SMA Assistant Director) and Mike Barker (Acting SMA Project Manager). An important aspect of work ahead is to help bring on line at least one new distance learning classroom in Fall 2000 and two additional classrooms in mid 2001. In addition to CAES, SMA staff also work closely with MIT's Educational Media Creation Center and Information Services to implement high bandwidth connection for the distance education classes. Vijay Kumar, Assistant Provost, and Richard Larson, Director of CAES are jointly responsible for the SMA's web-based platform development.


Singapore’s goals for SMA include invigorating its engineering education, enhancing creativity and entrepreneurship in its educational system, and attracting talented young people to Singapore.

On the MIT side, an important benefit is that this highly focused, well funded alliance gives us the opportunity to develop our own modes of operation, based on communications technology, to broaden our role as a global university, to define our own style of contact-intensive distance education, and to learn how to bring this global interaction to Cambridge to enhance undergraduate and graduate education of our own students.

We anticipate strengthened departmental curricula as a result of SMA funded new and existing subject development. We also anticipate enhanced inter-departmental and inter-school collaborations as a result of both SMA curriculum development and SMA funded research projects. As examples, the HPCES Programme will engender a number of new and well-supported cross-department and cross-school MIT courses, as well as research collaborations and a seminar series, that will benefit MIT (residential) students. A new Master of Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, a part of the strategic plan of the Department, has been greatly aided in its development by the funding and course development of SMA. Similar synergies are planned for the IMST programme.


Additional Alliance details may be obtained by contacting Ms. Anddie Chan, Assistant Director, SMA, Tel.: (617) 253-4222 or e-mail: More information about this center can be found on the World Wide Web at

Merton C. Flemings

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000