On 3 November 1998, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), marking an important chapter in the annals of SMA’s history.
The major aims of SMA were directed towards promoting global science and engineering education as well as research. This was one of the first partnerships between Singapore universities and a premier overseas university aimed at creating in Singapore, a world-class tertiary education system. This was achieved through a collaboration and combination of resources of the three academic institutions. The partnership taps worldclass engineering expertise, ideas and technology required for
cutting-edge research to fuel Singapore as well as the region’s growth as an innovation and education hub. This gives students an opportunity to access its exceptional faculty expertise coupled with excellent research and interactive distance education facilities.
SMA’s five full-time programmes were launched in stages. The Advanced Materials for Micro- and Nano-Systems (AMM&NS) and the High Performance Computation for Engineered Systems (HPCES) programmes were both launched in July 1999. These were followed by the Innovation in Manufacturing Systems
and Technology (IMST) programme in July 2000 and the Molecular Engineering of Biological and Chemical Systems (MEBCS) and Computer Science (CS) programmes in July 2001.
The pioneer enrolment of 63 students in July 1999 to SMA consisted of both local students as well as those from around Asia. This number increased gradually through the years, where 70 enrolled in July 2000, 149 in July 2001, 184 in July 2002 and 143 in July 2003. As of 30 September 2003, a total of 479 students have been enrolled while 426 students had graduated. A total of 59 students are currently on the Ph.D. track.
On 24 March 2003, another Memorandum of Understanding to mark the second phase of SMA was signed and witnessed via live conferencing between Singapore and MIT. This second, more ambitious five-year phase is characterised by extensive research and teaching collaboration substantiated through dual degree programmes, where students will get the unique opportunity to be awarded an MIT degree as well as an NUS or NTU degree. The stronger emphasis on research collaboration and the training of research manpower will help fuel the growth of knowledgeintensive sectors in Singapore as well as actively seek to involve the research institutes and industry. SMA-2 is set to launch in 2005.