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NUS Engineering Science Programme: What awaits after graduation?

March 22, 2011

Future “job opportunity” was, is and probably will be the most popular question a prospective student can ask about a course.

I am a strong believer that one should choose courses which suits their interest (though it is situational sometimes), and have answered some question regarding future job opportunity for ESP in my previous post. But nevertheless I think it would probably be helpful to know what the first batch of graduates are actually doing now.

Names have been edited for privacy.

What do ESP students do after their graduation


NUS Engineering Science Programme : Revisited

December 25, 2010

First, I would like to thanks Joshua for helping me with the comments…:P I have been a bit lazy, but i still log in once a while. I guess I will update a bit more often next semester. And by the way, i am currently a year 3 Engineering Science Programme undergraduate in Computational Engineering Science specialization.

In retrospect, two years have passed since I last posted about Engineering Science Programme, and i am slightly surprised by the number of inquiries i received consider that this is not exactly a widely known course. In any case, my understanding and perception of Engineering Science Programme have changed since then, and I would like to share some of them to answer some of the inquiries. (Consider this an FAQs :P)

Bear in mind that my answer is only applicable in Singapore, not else where. (ie. Malaysia)

Q: Is Engineering Science Programme suitable for me if I don’t intend to do research? Would private company recognize my degree?

A: In my opinion, the only way you will know if a course is suitable for you for sure is to try it yourself. Chance are, there will be something you like about this course, and there will be something you don’t.

Pardon me for the digression just now. So, let say you dislike research, prefer working with clients (like consultant job, maybe), and would like to work for private company instead of government sector. Would you be able to find a job using your ESP degree? How “good” is the degree when it comes to competing with conventional engineering degree like chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering..etc.?

The first question is straightforward: if your CAP is not too low (at least second lower), not too picky about your job, doesn’t mind if your job scope is not exactly related to what you have learnt, then yeah, definitely, provided Singapore is not struck by economy disaster.

For energy system, there’s REC (Renewable Energy Company). For nanotechnology, you can try hard disc manufacturer (ok, at least, my friend in Nano specialization told me so). For Photonics…you have to ask Joshua or other graduating senior. I merely know that one of them is planning to start his own business, the last time i checked. For computational engineering science (which is notoriously known as the specialization with  the least student), you can try IBM, theoretically, or at least this is what the ESP office claims…I am looking into more information regarding this at the moment.

If everything else fail, the door of banking sector (of course, don’t expect a position such as Financial Analyst or Actuarist) and MOE is always open. So yeah, you can get a non-research base job.

Now for the second question…short answer: No real advantage. I would assume that the people at HR judge people more on interview performance and CAP, provided that ESP degree is considered related to the job position (if not, you would probably need to convince them that it is, pr find another job).

If you want to pursue a career in energy system, you can actually go for mechanical engineering, chemical engineering or even electrical engineering (Remember your power grids?). We do specialize in the third and fourth year, by sharing some modules with them.

If you want to pursue a career in nanotechnology, you can go for material science engineering or electrical engineering. Or even physics, really.

If you want to pursue a career in photonics…well, i am not too sure about the other alternatives. My guess would be physics and electrical engineering. Electrical engineer studies a lot about signal processing, which is vital when it comes to things like MRI.

If you want to pursue a career in computational engineering science…it depends. Let say you prefer computational fluid dynamics, or computational mechanics, mechanical engineering is a viable choice. If you want to go deep into numerical analysis, go math. If your idea of “computational” is programming, compiler, cloud computing, parallel algorithms, grid computing…don’t come here, go to school of computing instead.

Short summary: When it comes to job application, there’s no real advantage for ESP graduate. Obviously, we can argue that we are better than other engineering graduates by giving several reasons, but the usefulness of our argument in an interview depends on how you speak (or talk cock, like what the Singaporean like to say).

Whether it is actually disadvantageous would depends on the job and the interviewer. For instance, I think that IBM would probably much prefer computing students over ESP students. But REC, on the other hand, do accept ESP graduate with open hand, or at least those with Energy system specialization.

Q: I heard that Engineering Science Programme is very challenging and only the best of the best (or whatever the other say) can enroll in this course. I also hear rumors that ESP students are usually so busy with their studies that they always become “phantom” in halls. Would I be able to secure a good cap if i enroll in ESP?

A: Myth debunking time: Just because the quota is small doesn’t mean that this is an elite course. And FYI, Chemical Engineering has higher entry point than us. Some classmates of mine are from Raffles and Hwa Chong (not all of them good academically), but many aren’t (though some of them are godlike). Personally, I would say that most of my classmate are talented, either in academic field, doing projects, communication skills, presentation skills…etc. But the same can be said about other engineering courses too, only that their cohort is too large for you to have deeper understanding of each classmate’s ability. Like any other courses, we have a few classmate who owns pretty much everyone, at least academically, a few classmate who are basically…dreaming and drifting away, and the majority who have different weakness and strength.

The first year modules are indeed tougher than other engineering students. Personally, I found advanced calculus a nightmare. But first year onwards…I would say that the difficulty level is more or less the same. Moreover, we share most of the modules with other engineering or science students for year 3 and year 4.

Most of us are kept busy, not because of revision, but because of a little fiend called “design project”, which we will do every semester since year 2. There are enough material for a full blog post regarding my opinion on design project, so just save it for next time when i am free.

So you want to know if it is easier to get a good CAP here than other engineering course…

Well, if the module is ESP exclusive, expect the bell curve to be seriously skewed due to the small cohort. But even if it is not, engineering modules in NUS are not generally generous in giving out As. Math modules in NUS is MUCH MUCH worse (and from what i hard from a friend, NTU is not much better , either). Hence if you want to slack off and yet still get a good CAP, go to faculty of art and social science, or enroll in more business modules (provided you are good in talking and writing).

Conclusion: Either way you can’t slack off, so don’t choose a modules base on the ease of securing a high CAP. And if you are clever and hardworking enough, you probably won’t be asking this question in the first place.

Q: Is there a lot of PRC (People’s Republic of China) people in this course? I don’t want to be own by them…also, is it true that the gender ratio is seriously imbalance for this course?

A: Let’s face it: This is Singapore. Excluding social science, pharmacy and medicine modules they usually form a sizable portion in any other courses in NUS. Running to NTU doesn’t help. My friend in Math and Econs in NTU has worse luck. Still, I found the stereotype that PRC students own everyone else in the class an exaggeration. Ok, perhaps they do better academically on average, especially in math modules, but not to the extent that they are unbeatable. There are also some PRC students who don’t do well in studies. And no, most of them are not  the super hardworking type that would work non stop for 24 hours like what some relatives and friends of mine in Malaysia would like me to believe.

Gender ratio…from my experience, the prospective students who would ask this question, would most likely be a male. Don’t ask me why. Well, suffice to say that the female students in ESP never exceeds 20%. (That partially explain why we would choose the art and social science canteen over the engineering canteen for lunch sometimes. The scenery is better.)

But…so what if there’s no girl in the class? We don’t fork out about 10k sing dollar per annum (for international students) for a better mating chance. Besides, we do share modules with other courses as well. If you enroll university in hope of getting a love relationship (possibly due to fact that you are restrain of having such relationship before university stage)…then…my advice is, go to biological science if you are a guy. And get prepared for poor academic performance if love relationship is your primary goal for entering uni.

That’s it for now, will continue next time.

Chains of affection: The structure of adolescent romantic and sexual networks

July 16, 2009

Ok, this is a blatant plagarism from the site:

Adolescent romantic network_reviseda

Found this on Physics Forums today. Literally rolling on the floor laughing. I really do wonder if the research is indeed properly done, and if they do…well, I wonder who is in that BIG circle. XD

Some funny quote from the forum:

Quote from: Math is Hard

“Neat-o. Very fractalish.”

Quote from: jobyts

“…they didn’t show the physics department, mostly with unconnected dots.”

PHD comic: ‘Tales from the Road – MD Anderson Cancer Center’

April 25, 2009

I have been a regular reader of “Pile Higher and Deeper” comic…but this issue is quite different from the rest, so I decided to share it here.


April 24, 2009


I dreamt of the folly past.

All the past regrets, hatred, anger, remorse, pity and a glimpse of happiness, shall always be an integral part of my memory.

However, the dream was a surprise. I thought its aftermath has faded.

In the dream I was still cautious, but no longer bear hatred. In the dream — has changed to – —- —— —— —- — was.

 — —, in reality? I doubt so, but it shall be a good thing — — if — did.

Yes, the —— has faded some time ago. In retrospect — — the correct thing, and I was frivolious. 

It’s just that I think that it is better to go on separate path of life from now on. I guess, this is one of the few things that –had consensus on. 

— can’t go back to how it was can –? Or at least I don’t intend to.

But I do hope that like the dream I had, — became a —— ——. Although I don’t think I will ever know, nor would I ask about it.

Still, its good to be able to dream.

At present, life goes on.



Am I a better person than I was? I ponder upon the question sometimes.

I hate that naive and idiotic child. But I do adore his purity and his passion for dream. And the tranquility that I don’t get to enjoy oftenly these days.

I guess I am less naive now, knowing more about the imperfectness of the society and how to cricumvent it, and capable to things that I never thought I could do before.

I am closer to my dream than before, but at the same time I am further away.

Learning more about my dream cast a shade of doubt over myself. While stubornly persist my dream, I am less certain about it now. And I am no longer that motivated.

Ah where has my flare gone? 

But I wish to keep that little promise to myself, no matter what it brings me to.

With that little flare, I walk into the future.



 In the near future, I shall have my exam. No longer as confident as I did in high school time, especially since i learn that the ability to apply the theorem in a new manner, rather than understand and knowing all the theorem, is the key to solve linear algebra questions. 

Well, doing past year question do help, but the new type of questions always appear.

Would I do well enough to maintain my CAP? Not that maintaining it is too important, just don’t want to demoralized myself for the next sem. lol

For the far future though, I am not really sure. Would like to keep my choice for future specialization open, since i think that it takes time to discover one’s passion. (But Shu Heng, it is already year 1 sem 2 and you are going to decide in year 2 sem 2…sigh)

More importantly, am I capable of doing research work? I realize, that to come out with a genuine, meaningful paper is really a hard thing to do. (or else I won’t have that much headache now) Being a researcher is not really a far fetch dream….but being a researcher that can actually write good papers and journals and not just copy paste? 

Sigh. Shouldn’t really be worrying about that now. Back to LSM1401. And after that need to attempt to understand that journal on magnetic bearing.

Magnetic Levitated Bearing

April 7, 2009

NUS Engineering Science Programme

April 2, 2009

I decided to post this after replying to a prospective students (and after explaining repetitively on what is Engineering Science Programme about during NUS Open House)

From Kent

I have been offer engineering science for 09. May I know how is the course like?
I am currently in a dilemma as another university in hk hav juz offered me a place in Applied physics..
I would really wanna know more abt engineering science b4 deciding. Please help if you can. Thank you very much.

From mediocre

Nice to meet you Kent. Sorry for the delayed reply.

The curriculum of Engineering Science has a strong emphasis on research and design projects, notably in emerging fields such as Energy System, Nano technology, Bioimaging and Computational Engineering Science. Unlike conventional engineering filed, we have a stronger foundation in fundamental science.(Imagine learning Advanced Calculus in your first year rather than Calculus as other does)

At the same time, we have more design projects. We started our design project in year 2 (rather than year 3)

Some of the projects that our senior have done :
1) Devise your own experiment to measure Young modulus (year 2)
2) Solar Golf Car (year 3, energy system)
3) Industrial Drying Machine (year 2)
4) Wireless Antenna (year 2)
5) Electroplating (year 2)

Some final year projects (which the year 3 are working on)

Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have more questions. :)


From Kent

Thank you for replying.

I can see there are a lot physics content in the course.
I heard things about this course. Some people say that it may look like an elite course of engineering, but the truth is nobody wants get into this course as it is a risky choice to study such a new course.

How much do you think it is true?
What is the career prospects for this course?
How much is this course different from applied physics?

Sorry to bother you again. Thank you for your time spent answering my question. :)

From mediocre

I wouldn’t really say our course is an elite course, it is just more catered towards research

career than other engineering courses. (I think people have this misconception since we don’t study the same module as other engineering students do.) There are elites in our class of course (I am not one of them), but there are also many mediocre ones. (However the mediocre one do become more hardworking as time pass by…)

This course is introduced for two main reason: to integrate science and engineering as there are more research field which is mulltidisciplinary, and independent learning. (Very evident when you have to do much more design projects than the others—-but receive way less information from your professor except some brief background.) Hence if you don’t wish to venture into research field in the future, you may still apply your independent learning skills in other fields.

However, if you prefer conventional and established field such as civil engineering, electrical etc., and are passionate in them, by all means go for those course. Afterall it is your passion that is the most important factor. And their field of specialization is different from ours.

Career prospect wise…well, i can only said that it has better prospect in research field (in comparison to other engineering), and it is easier for us to get an internship (since we are such a small cohort and profesor can always help us personally. Our department deputy is quite concern about this). Other than research…you have to prove your skills to the employees, either via interview, CV or internship performance.

Nobody wants to go in? Well, I consider my self as a person. lol And my friends too. Our cohort is small (less than 50), but that is deliberately done to enable better interaction among the students and professors. (Not because all of us are elites. But the Bell Curve for a small cohort can be scary… We also tend to be more competitive due to this reason.)

How much is this course different from applied physics? I do not know enough about applied physics to answer you that. However, bear in mind that our specialization is in energy system, nanotechnology, bioimaging and computational engineering science. (Though Energy System is the most prominent one, second by nano, and a few in other specialization) Hence if you are not too interested in these fields, I would advise you to choose applied Physics instead.”