Straits Times, The future of engineering and architecture – where AI and design thinking converge. New degree programme to produce T-shaped AI talent

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Straits Times, The future of engineering and architecture – where AI and design thinking converge. New degree programme to produce T-shaped AI talent2021-04-27T10:11:09+00:00

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SUTD launched the new Design and Artificial Intelligence (DAI) programme in 2020 to nurture a new breed of T-shaped graduates who will have a broad understanding of products, systems, services and the built environment, along with a deep knowledge of design thinking skills and AI technologies.

Professor Ashraf Kassim, Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and programme director for the DAI programme at SUTD, says that DAI graduates will be trained to be able to effectively respond to the needs of a growing digital economy, and will be equipped with a mastery of in-demand skills in areas related to software systems design, AI and machine learning algorithms, human-machine interaction as well as generative design, so that they can be part of or lead teams in formulating tech-powered solutions that solve real-world problems.

“If you look at where we are now in the 21st century, data is ubiquitous. Data and information are being continuously captured, created, analysed and, going forward, there is immense opportunity to use newer methods in AI and related areas to improve the quality of our lives. This requires a new breed of design innovators,” he says.

Also speaking at the SUTD Open House this year, senior lecturer Dr Edwin Koh explains that DAI graduates will be well versed in AI application – not in the writing of codes. These students will embed AI into their solutions and apply AI in their design, from product design, service design and systems design to the designed-built environment, he says.

This sets DAI graduates – and SUTD – apart from and gives them an edge over others.

DAI students will work in four design studios and are expected to graduate with an impressive portfolio of products and innovations, like their peers in the four other degree programmes: Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD); Engineering Product Development (EPD); Engineering Systems and Design (ESD); and Information Systems Technology and Design (ISTD).

With the current shortage of AI talents locally and in the region, DAI graduates are expected to close the Design and AI talent gap and contribute to the growth of a global economy being transformed by AI.

The new Design and Artificial Intelligence (DAI) programme at SUTD prepares students for a wide range of career tracks, including taking on roles such as:

  • AI solutions architects/planners
  • Product/system/service designer
  • Data analyst/scientist
  • Machine learning/AI engineer
  • User Experience (UX) or User Interface (UI) designer
  • Data visualisation specialist
  • Business intelligence analyst

Mr Michael Hoon, who will matriculate at SUTD in 2022, has his sights set on the DAI programme, says: “DAI has a unique course structure, with its focus on the design and application aspects of the latest AI technologies to solve problems and improve the quality of lives. With Singapore’s goal of becoming a Smart Nation, design and AI would certainly be an important asset to help achieve that goal, especially in digitisation.”

Industry professionals across all fields welcome the talent pipeline. Dr Terence Hung, chief of Future Intelligence Technologies at Rolls-Royce, believes SUTD’s new programme will equip students with much-needed complementary skills in design and AI, and give them an edge to impact the world.

Dr Peh Chin Hwee, vice president and head of Intelligent Systems (Robotics & Autonomous, Systems), at ST Engineering, says: “AI is a new area. Designing AI into a traditional engineering system is often an afterthought. An AI-capable system should incorporate AI into its design at the onset. It will benefit the industry if AI and design innovation (DI) can be fused seamlessly into all AI product designs.”

Already, SUTD graduates are highly sought-after in the job market. According to the 2020 Graduate Employment Survey conducted by NTU, NUS, SMU, SUSS and SUTD, 95.9 per cent of SUTD graduates secured a job within six months of their final examinations, and one in two full-time permanently employed SUTD graduates received two or more job offers. Employers are also increasingly willing to pay top dollar for their skills, with fresh graduates commanding a mean gross monthly salary of $4,369 in 2020 – the highest across all surveyed universities, and up from $4,235 in 2019.

The Straits Times | Wednesday, 14 April 2021
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited.
Reprinted with permission.