Advanced Materials for Micro- and Nano-Systems (AMM&NS)

The Future of Modern Technologies

The AMM&NS degree programme offers a comprehensive and intensive approach to a field of study that is rapidly defining the frontier of modern technologies. Students are exposed to the broad foundations of advanced materials that encompass processing, microstructure, properties and performance, with a particular emphasis on microelectronics applications. The preparation, characterisation and optimisation of materials comprise the core of this multi-disciplinary coursework, which prepares students for the challenges of a variety of advanced industrial problems. The AMM&NS degree programme also promotes concepts that are widely linked to critical advances in the science and engineering of materials.

The past five years have seen a high level of student interest in the AMM&NS programme. The number of applications more than tripled from 100 in the year 2000 to over 300 in 2003. This contributed to a selectivity of 14% and a high yield of 68%. The innovativeness and effectiveness of the course and philosophy of the S.M. degree developed for the AMM&NS programme were adopted to create a new M.Eng. degree being offered at MIT.

We have developed a Ph.D. degree programme that includes advanced topics as well as core topics that are common within the S.M. degree programme. To qualify for the Ph.D. programme, students are examined by teams that are composed of equal numbers of MIT and Singapore faculty. The examination format and standards are set along the lines of MIT’s. SMA students also take at least four courses with MIT graduate students (and in some cases with University of Cambridge students) and perform on par with MIT students in all aspects of the courses. Singapore faculty have been deeply involved in the co-development and teaching of all SMA courses, including those based on MIT courses and taught synchronously to MIT students.

The main element of the Ph.D. experience is the thesis research. We feel that we have been particularly successful in involving students in truly collaborative research programmes. There is continuous and active engagement by MIT- and Singapore-based faculties as well as other MIT- and Singapore-based students and research staff. This has been accomplished through formation of teams with shared research interests but varying research expertise and capabilities. This often means that MIT and Singapore faculties have ongoing non-SMA research activities in directly related areas. This model has led to many joint publications and student awards.
These collaborations have also grown to include research institutes and industry in both Singapore and the United States. Our first Ph.D. graduate, Gan Chee Lip, collaborated with staff at the Institute of Microelectronics, Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing in Singapore as well as Sematech, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Sandia National Laboratories and Motorola in the United States. These successful research collaborations were seeded by common interests,nurtured by co-dependency and have bred mutual respect and trust.

High Performance Computation for Engineered Systems (HPCES)

New Frontiers in High Performance Computation

The HPCES degree programme is the most technologically advanced and critically acclaimed computational engineering coursework available in the world today. Through a powerful combination of state-of-the-art interactive distance learning technology and premier academic collaboration, the HPCES programme is graduating the very best high performance computation professionals. High performance computation for engineered systems is a crucial component in the modelling, simulation, design, optimisation, control and visualisation of engineered systems in a wide range of technology and service industries. HPCES courses promote creativity as well as hands-on experience in an effort to study the improvement of both product and systems design. The programme’s unified approach combines engineering science and systems optimisation:

Engineering Science

A keen focus on modelling and simulating physical phenomena and product behaviour helps students to uncover shorter design cycles and improve functionality. Such virtual testing allows industries to design innovative, quality products with a minimum number of costly physical prototypes.

Systems Optimisation

Careful attention to modelling and designing complex systems allows students to identify optimal configurations for maximum operational performance. The study of efficient process automation and integration is also emphasised. Such virtual design tools are widely used by industries to construct innovative solutions to complex tactical and strategic decisions.

Several of the jointly developed courses in SMA-1 have been delivered to both SMA and MIT students by MIT and NUS faculties over the last five years. These courses were also offered and taken by the graduate students of the Faculty of Engineering and School of Business at NUS and the School of Mechanical and Production Engineering at NTU. The courses in particular are SMA 5211, SMA 5213, SMA 5214, SMA 5212 and SMA 5223. These lectures are
also taped for subsequent viewing by the students. Lectures are presented using powerpoint presentations and the digest provides greater details and references for the students. Some of the HPCES courses in the last two years were offered to the SMA Industry Consortium partners such as Port of Singapore Authority for the purpose of auditing and with fees payable to SMA. (In the initial years of SMA-1, much effort and time were largely spent on developing the joint SMA courses for the educational component.)

HPCES programme’s research progress and accomplishments include:
     i. Over 20 joint papers published (and about 10 being prepared and/or submitted) in top international journals          involving faculty from either NUS or NTU and MIT.

     ii. More than 80 journal papers derived from HPCES-related research.

     iii. Achievements at the George Nicholson Student Paper Competition to honour outstanding papers in the field of
operations research. Two years ago, Melvyn Sim was awarded the Second Prize, while last year, Karthik Natarajan received an Honourable Mention.

The SMA academic programmes are also unique in their close affiliation with the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), a premier research institute in Singapore’s Science Park. The IHPC specialises in research involving simulation and visualisation using advanced computational techniques. The Institute maintains close ties with the academia to undertake upstream research for the development of new technology and at the same time, supports local companies in industry-inspired research to enhance their capabilities and productivity. HPCES programme’s close affiliation with companies can be seen in terms of direct research funding from industry. Seagate has put up S$200,000 for further research work with one of the Fellows with a matching grant of $160,000 from NTU on “Simulation of the hard disk drive”. This research activity started as a result of some HPCES S.M. projects. In addition to this, it is foreseen that additional support may become available in the future from other companies. Through the focus on the research theme of ‘Simulation and Optimisation’ under SMA-1, HPCES Fellows at NUS have also secured numerous research grants from various government and public institutions like the Ministry of Defence, Universities and others.

Innovation in Manufacturing Systems and Technology (IMST)

Strategic Tools for Manufacturing Innovation

The IMST degree programme 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 - the operational flow problems of the factory environment.

While staying firmly grounded in the engineering sciences, the advanced coursework exposes 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.

Molecular Engineering of Biological and Chemical Systems (MEBCS)

A Unique Perspective on Molecular Engineering

The MEBCS degree programme offers an exciting and innovative curriculum in the field of molecular engineering. Its innovative courses of study integrate a molecular-level understanding of biological and chemical phenomena with advances in process engineering for the life sciences and fine chemical industries. Coursework presents advanced engineering concepts that unite multiple length scales “molecular, microscopic and macroscopic” through a close coupling of biological and chemical sciences. Students are exposed to state-of-the-art concepts in structured fluids, surface functionalisation, microstructure tailoring and materials design in relation to fine chemicals and pharmaceutical synthesis. Students also study the molecular and cellular aspects of biotechnology, genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics, drug design and delivery that underlie advanced bioengineering.

MEBCS coursework provides a unique curriculum and a companion research programme that emphasises molecular engineering as it pertains to advanced materials synthesis and biotechnology. Classes and research are conducted collaboratively with the MIT faculty and SMA students will also have the opportunity to interact with scientists and engineers at a number of leading research institutes and centres such as the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and Bioprocessing Technology Centre, all of which are internationally renowned for their basic and applied R&D programmes.

Computer Science (CS)

New Advances in a Thriving Discipline

The CS degree programme offers an in-depth understanding of and appreciation for the rapidly growing field of computer science. The primary goal of the CS programme is to train students to discover and develop new technology with immediate economic impact while providing a solid foundation to enable adaptation. Students are exposed to the broad foundations of computer science, encompassing computer architecture, software systems, algorithms and advanced applications. Through a challenging and rigorous course of study and diverse interaction with industry leaders as well as young entrepreneurs, graduates will closely examine advanced developments in web applications and infrastructure, embedded systems and computational biology.


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