Cover Feature
Very, Merry Good
With just S$1,000, Merry Riana came from Indonesia to study at NTU. On most days, she had to survive on instant noodles, bread and biscuits. Fourteen years later, Merry is a millionaire, having started a successful company that gives motivational talks and coaching courses. Like her, you can think the unthinkable and achieve the impossible
Students and alumni
• Nagarajan Raghavan (recipient of the IEEE Electron Devices Society PhD Student Fellowship Award)
• Merry Riana (see side story)
• Esther Tan (first female diver in the Singapore navy's elite diving unit and Her World's Young Woman Achiever of the Year)

Journey back to your childhood... Do you remember the first time you got curious about the magical remote control that changed TV channels whenever you pressed a button? More likely than not, you took it apart just to figure out what was inside it.

In primary school, your eyes lit up whenever you did the light bulb experiment. You kept adding batteries to the circuit to make the bulb glow brighter, and blowing a fuse hardly dampened your enthusiasm. Physics in secondary school was probably a walk in the park. Circuit diagrams, complex calculations and algorithms? No sweat.

These days, you can't stop tinkering with electronics. And now that you have succeeded in wiring your own calculator from scratch, you hope that you can one day work on the circuitry of something far grander – like that of a satellite.

At the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, you can wire and rewire to your heart's content, getting to the core of very smart electronics or electric circuits. Perhaps get lost in a next-generation 3D sound system for 3D TV? Or build the brains of cancer-detecting devices. The school houses the Satellite Research Centre, which worked on NTU's and Singapore's first home-grown satellite and is equipped with satellite design and engineering laboratories as well as mission control ground station facilities.

Merry Riana:

Self-made Millionaire by 26

When Merry first arrived in Singapore in 1998 to join the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, she had only S$1,000 and a small bag of clothes. Leaving behind her family in Indonesia, she survived on S$10 a week and relied on bank loans. Her undergraduate days consisted of "a constant repertoire of instant noodles, bread and biscuits". There were even times when she had to go without food.

After graduating in 2002, she struck out on her own as a financial consultant. In her first year, she put in over 14 hours of work a day, seven days a week. By the end of it, she had earned S$200,000 and was able to pay off her school fees of S$40,000 in one lump sum. Four years later, aged only 26, she was a self-made millionaire. Today, the 2006 winner of the Nanyang Outstanding Young Alumni Award runs her own company providing motivational talks and coaching services. She has also started several non-profit initiatives.

While the Singapore Permanent Resident advocates the entrepreneurial path, she encourages students not to give up their studies to start their own businesses. She shares how NTU cultivated in her a love for learning and she speaks fondly of the time she and her teammates placed third for a best project award with their creation of a fish tank-cleaning LEGO robot called "Flubber". For her, the key concepts learnt as an undergraduate and "juggling various activities" in university were critical ingredients in her initial success, and she continues to draw on these experiences.