Speaking before the signing ceremony on Monday, Jan. 25, MIT President Susan Hockfield said, “Our role will be extensive and direct. MIT faculty will be involved at every stage, from developing new curricula to helping with early deployment, assisting with mentoring, career development programs and conducting major joint research projects. We also look forward to numerous opportunities for student exchanges and collaborations.”
In a message conveyed via an SUTD video presentation, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commented, “The Singapore University of Technology and Design will provide something different from the existing institutions — a very high-quality education, not just an academic education, but one which is going to stimulate students to go beyond the book knowledge, to apply it to solving problems. It will teach students to be creative, not just in the technology and the design part, but also to be creative in bringing ideas out of the academic environment into the real world, into the business arena, into the real economy and make a difference to the world.”
The partnership between the two universities represents MIT’s most significant collaboration on education to date and covers both education and research endeavors.
Collaboration in research and educational endeavors
Under the education component, MIT will share its expertise with SUTD in a broad range of areas, including pedagogy, curriculum development and faculty recruitment and development. MIT will also assist in designing programs to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. As part of the agreement, SUTD will see a regular flow of faculty and post-graduate fellows from MIT engaging in a range of activities, such as co-teaching of courses with SUTD faculty. There will also be opportunities for exchanges between students at MIT and SUTD.
In addition to building up SUTD’s educational capabilities, MIT will also kick-start SUTD’s research capability by developing relevant research programs through their faculty. SUTD students will benefit from being taught by, and interacting with, experienced MIT faculty members.
A key feature of the research component of the agreement is the establishment of an International Design Centre (IDC). Situated at the heart of SUTD with a smaller mirror facility at MIT, the IDC is intended to become the world’s premier hub for technologically intensive design. The IDC will be a focal point for faculty and students from SUTD, MIT and partner institutions to collaborate in the design of devices, systems and services that address the strategic needs of Singapore, the region and the world. In doing so, the IDC will seek to address key challenges facing the world today — including sustainable built environment, engineering for the developing world and ICT-enabled devices for better living.
Both components of the collaboration are tightly integrated. For instance, the undergraduate education experience will incorporate design experiences, facilitated by the IDC, throughout the entire degree program. At the same time, the IDC will be a source of new ideas for design education, methodology, tools and practices. By interacting with the curriculum, the IDC will serve to catalyze pedagogical innovation and experimentation.
Commenting on the collaboration, Hockfield, said, “Building on MIT's enduring relationship with Singapore, this agreement represents MIT’s most extensive collaboration with an overseas educational institution to date. The collaboration will not only help Singapore launch a new university, it will give MIT new opportunities to push the boundaries of design research. MIT is fully committed to helping SUTD achieve its distinctive vision.”
MIT Professor Thomas Magnanti, SUTD’s founding president, said, “The creation of SUTD is as ambitious as it is exciting. I am especially excited to be collaborating with my long-time home institution, MIT, which will bring much added value to the SUTD’s development, through MIT’s contributions to the university’s curriculum and research. SUTD aspires to establish an inspiring attitude and tone — the type of vibrant academic and research environment that exists at the world’s leading universities. Having ‘MIT within’ will help achieve this goal, help ensure that SUTD achieves the highest quality, and be instrumental in attracting distinguished faculty, researchers and practitioners and top students to the university.”
Besides MIT, SUTD will also partner with Zhejiang University. These strategic alliances are designed to offer SUTD students and faculty rich opportunities for international collaborations and global exposure.