Thursday, 13 June 2013

SUTD... Sign me up!

Finally I connected with the faculty members at Singapore University of Technology and Design through an ambiguous e-mail “Come visit tomorrow morning!  Call me when you get here”.  I eventually figured out her phone number, and where and when the class was happening.  Next year, the school is moving out of their temporary location here (where the incoming class size is limited to around 300 students) to a more permanent location by the airport where they’ll start a PhD program and start growing their incoming class size to an eventual goal of 2000 students.
Vision for 2014 SUTD campus
When I was talking to my friend last night about visiting a class today, he said “What kind of class?  Firebreathing?”  Watching physics isn’t quite the same as learning to breathe flames, but all things considered, I had a very good time (and no loin cloth was required!).  Hui Ying is an absolutely adorable, tiny, young Chinese woman and greeted me with a huge hug.  We walked to today’s class, a breakout problem solving session for the cohort of 45 freshmen.  She invited me to speak to the students, who were actually very excited to talk to me.  Like MIT, the students were from all over Asia- probably half of the students I spoke to were from China but I met someone from Myanmar and Malaysia.  They were enthusiastic about the program and told me that physics here was easy compared to China but “Hui Ying is so cute and I like working with my cohort”.  One group asked me, “are you going to teach us?”  I said that I wasn’t planning on it but honestly, I don’t know what my plans are for the next several weeks.  However, all the professors and students I’ve meet here seem very accommodating so hopefully I'll accomplish something academic this summer.
Not much else to report here unless you wanted to hear me raving more about SUTD.  I learned about the “1-D: design project they’ll be doing in physics as well as as the 2-D interdisciplinary project they’ll be doing to apply their math-physics-engineering knowledge.  Between the amount of teamwork, public speaking and problem solving these students complete on a daily basis, plus practicing applying the knowledge in creative ways, these students are going to be incredibly well prepared for future engineering design jobs.  And unlike MIT, where everyone seemed supercompetitive and on the verge of depression, these students were superhappy.  We even had a birthday celebration at the end of class/  It’s only in its baby stages but SUTD may be the most impressive university I have ever visited.
After that, I went for a swim then cashed my check at the fanciest, almost sci-fi-esque bank I've ever been too- huge touch screens on the walls and individual banking rooms.  I would have taken a picture but then I would have totally looked like a tourist.  And maybe got hauled off to jail for being a security concern.  No thanks!
This is what happened when Deb and I picked out our own food- mashed rice, beans and mushrooms.  Dragonfruit juice was good though!
I'm about to meet with a “mostly vegetarian”, meditating, yogi couchsurfer for dinner... Singapore's famous for it's food but Debra and I haven't had much luck picking out our stuff.  And besides that, I'm excited tomorrow's friend!  I'm meeting up for free live music at the Hard Rock Cafe with a couple who knew Samantha (my TIP co-worker) from a previous summer.  TIP employees are sure to bring a good time!  Then I'll be trekking at a reservoir  Saturday morning, maybe attending Asia's first beer fest on Sunday and who knows what else?  I got invited to a deluxe screening of Superman, a trip to the beach and an Avicii concert also... plenty of options but not enough time!  More later!
Team photo from the other day... Back row: Marie, Dawn, David, Ken, Luis, Kevin, me, Justin, Luke
Bottom row: Paul, Stephanie, Alissa, Jen, Debra