Singapore Delegation Visits Campus
Rensselaer academic leaders, administrators, and students recently hosted a high-level delegation from Singapore led by Tharman Shanmugaratnam, deputy prime minister, and Lawrence Wong, minister of state for education. On April 23, the 20-person delegation was greeted by President
Shirley Ann Jackson, who was traveling and delivered her welcome via phone.
“Rensselaer has important ties with Singapore,” President Jackson said. “Last January, at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Dr. Tan Chorh-Chuan, president of the National University of Singapore, graciously hosted the Rensselaer IdeasLab.
“We also have several students from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore participating in our exchange program.
“In addition, Mr. Jackson Tai ’72, who is both a member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees and a graduate of Rensselaer, has had a prominent role in Singaporean business. Everyone at Rensselaer is deeply honored to have you and your delegation on our Troy campus.”
The group received an overview of the Institute from Acting Provost Prabhat Hajela, focusing on the history and growth of Rensselaer under The Rensselaer Plan and the undergraduate and graduate programs. Hajela discussed a range of initiatives, including the constellation interdisciplinary approach and CLASS, the Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students program.
The delegation also heard a presentation from
Jonathan Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS), on transitioning science to benefit the public through research focused on global health,
biomanufacturing, functional materials, and biotechnology and public policy. One of the primary
challenges of the 21st century, Dordick said, is “a fundamental innovation gap that exists between academic research and commercial adoption.” Within CBIS, he said, much work is being done to create an innovation ecosystem that ensures commercial translation.
The visitors also heard from Robert Karlicek,
director of the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center, and John Wen, director of the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS). Karlicek discussed his center’s approach to synthesizing light for the benefit of humanity, and engineering light for energy efficiency, health, and productivity. Wen provided details about the New York state-funded CATS center that advances research on smart
systems for integrative systems engineering, modeling and simulation, manufacturing systems design, and sensing and control.
Following the opening presentations Dordick gave the group a tour of some of the core labs in CBIS. The group was then given a tour of the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC).
At the end of the three-hour visit, seven Rensselaer exchange students from Singapore were invited to meet the Singapore delegation at a reception in EMPAC. In addition to the Rensselaer leaders who gave presentations, all five deans of the Rensselaer schools joined the reception to meet with the Singapore delegation.