Professor Thomas Magnanti, Institute Professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former Dean of the School of Engineering, will serve as the President of the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SU) starting October 1, 2009.
Professor Magnanti’s appointment was announced by the SU’s Board of Trustees at a press conference today. During his three-year term of appointment, Prof. Magnanti will be on leave from the MIT faculty and will devote his time fully to SU.
In announcing the appointment of Prof. Magnanti, Mr. Philip Ng, Chairman of the SU’s Board of Trustees, said, “Professor Magnanti’s exceptional record as a researcher and academic administrator, his familiarity with Singapore, and his understanding of the purpose and vision for the university, make him the best person to lead SU at this crucial phase in its inception.”
Commenting on his appointment, Professor Magnanti said, “The creation of the Singapore University of Technology and Design is as exciting as it is ambitious. Through its distinctive education and research and focus on technology grounded leadership, it will be well poised to serve Singapore, the region and the world. I am honored to serve as its founding President and to be able to work closely with Mr. Philip Ng and so many other leaders in Singapore and with the Ministry of Education, the National Research Foundation, and other offices and organizations to achieve the university’s soaring goals.”
Professor Magnanti’s appointment as President of SU reflects the close relationship that SU is expected to have with MIT. As announced by the Ministry of Education in May 2009, discussions with MIT are ongoing for a collaboration that will see a core team of experienced professors from MIT play a lead role in the development of SU’s curriculum, and a steady exchange of faculty between the two universities participating in research and education activities on both campuses.
SU is also in discussions with a top Chinese university on a possible collaboration. These strategic alliances with top universities overseas will uniquely position the SU to offer its students and faculty rich opportunities for international collaborations and global exposure.
SU will admit its first intake of 500 students in 2011. The university’s programs will initially be based on four pillars leading to separate degree programs tentatively named: (i) Architecture and Sustainable Design, (ii) Engineering Product Design, (iii) Engineering Systems and System Design, and (iv) Information Engineering and Design. Design as an academic discipline cuts across all four pillars. Each degree program will be undergirded by an integrated foundation of mathematics, sciences and the humanities. Interdisciplinary courses and projects will bring together students from all pillars to exchange ideas, learn to work in teams, and experience hands-on learning. As the university evolves, its curriculum will be adapted to integrate the best new technologies and to reflect the latest advances in design theory and methodology.
The SU may also introduce innovations in the organization of the university. The team is exploring doing away with traditional academic departments and organizing the university according to technology and science clusters instead to support the interdisciplinary nature of its programmes and encourage collaboration across disciplines.
Over the longer term, the SU is envisioned to be a world-class research-intensive university with a focus on design education that is holistic, systematic and anchored in the foundations of science and technology. It will produce technologically grounded leaders that serve the vital needs of the nation and world.
Professor Thomas L. Magnanti
Professor Thomas Magnanti is one of fourteen Institute Professors at MIT and former Dean of MIT’s School of Engineering. He has devoted much of his professional career to education that combines engineering and management and to teaching and research in applied and theoretical aspects of large-scale optimization. As Dean, he focused on educational innovation, industrial and international partnerships, technology-based entrepreneurship, diversity and innovation in emerging domains such as bioengineering, tiny technologies, information engineering and engineering systems.
He has led several centers and programs at MIT including, as the founding co-director, MIT’s Leaders for Manufacturing and System Design and Management Programs and, as founding director, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART). He has served as president of three major professional societies and editor of Operations Research. He also headed one third of the Sloan School of Management for several years.
Professor Magnanti has received numerous educational and research awards and honorary degrees and has served on a number of corporate and university boards. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Syracuse University and master’s degrees in Statistics and in Mathematics as well as a Ph.D. in Operations Research, all from Stanford University.
Professor Magnanti has a long association with Singapore, dating from the mid 1980’s. As a contributing faculty member and then member of the Governing Board of SMA, and later as the Director of SMART, he has spent considerable time in Singapore for over ten years.