Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Transcript of the speech by Prof Wood

Speech – Guest of Honor
Prof Kristin L. Wood
May 18, 2016

School of Science and Technology (SST)

SST-3M InnoScience Challenge, 2016

Principal Linda Chan, Distinguished Management Team of SST, Faculty, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an absolute pleasure to serve as the Guest of Honor for this year’s SST-3M InnoScience Challenge. This Challenge embodies the fabric and soul of SST and Singapore. Since its inception in 2010, SST has embraced:

“Imagination and Innovation”
“Flaming Curiosity and Inquiry”

and the Applied Learning Approaches represented by SST’s Hexagons element of

“Active and Relevant”
“Community Focused”
“Learner Centered” and
“Process Focused”

As a Head of Pillar for the Singapore University of Technology and Design (or SUTD), we share this lineage with SST and value a transdisciplinary approach to create the next generations of technically grounded leaders for Singapore. In the context of the SST experience, the theme of InnoScience 2016 is   

“Livable Cities: Smart Nation, Smart Solutions”

Can you imagine a more important theme? To place this theme in context, let’s briefly explore some numbers about cities.

  • By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in large cities
  • In 2012, large cities made up 33% of the world’s global population, but produced greater than 55% of global economic output
  • The world’s population grew from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 7.0 billion today, and is expected to grow to 9.10 billion by 2050
  • In 1990, there were 10 “mega-cities” with more than 10 million inhabitants. In 2014, there were 28 mega-cities worldwide
  • In 1950, 5% of the world’s population were 45 years of age and older
  • In 2000, 7% of the population were 45 years of age and older
  • And in 2050, the percentage is expected to increase to 16%

Clearly, aging cities are key issues, where Singapore percentages are even higher than international averages.

These numbers related to cities tell a story.  But they also engender a number of questions for now and the future:

  • “How will healthcare change for the escalating age of city populations?”
  • “How will technology change and by used to foster urban environments, families, and daily experiences?”
  • “What transformations will be needed in personal transportation, energy harvesting and distribution, water collection, storage, and delivery?”
  • “How do we engage the experience and wisdom of the elderly to add creative value to our city’s productivity?”
  • “How will the ideas of community and workplace change as cities grow?”
  • and “How do we address the environmental impact and sustainability of our world’s resources?”

 These questions are difficult, but they are also quite exciting. We have the opportunity to innovate and transform people’s lives.

It will take all of us to realize this innovation and transformation, especially our youth.

And this is why we are here today. The young men and women of SST have presented their ideas for designing a better and smarter world.

We have seen ideas ranging from
-          energy harvesting,
-          to clean water,
-          to healthcare devices,
-          to aids for a better life, and
-          to systems for improving transportation congestion

I loved hearing from the students and seeing their passion realized through technology. We have experienced the students’ love for Singapore, and the city and Smart Nation that Singapore represents.

In the words of Mark Twain,
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Let’s be thankful for having the students’ imagination infect us all and bring our eyes into focus.

Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to take part in InnoScience 2016.

Congratulations to all the student teams and especially the finalists.

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