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Highly REPutable

A course that could turn his engineering dreams into business reality. That's what Singapore Polytechnic aeronautical engineering student, Clarence Chan, is after. Chrystal Chan listens in on his conversation with first-year Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP) student Yuen Jing Wen

An NTU and Singapore Polytechnic student at a café in NTUPHOTOS: LESTER KOK

Jing Wen

Jing Wen: Nice to hear you’re interested in NTU’s REP. How did you find out about it?

Clarence: I was actually introduced to it by my lecturer. In polytechnic, I was trying to get funding for my engineering projects, but discovered that I lacked knowledge on the business front. My lecturer told me I should consider REP as it would help in that aspect. But I’ve heard that the course can be quite tough.

Jing Wen: It can be difficult at first. For example, there is a test called the Individual Readiness Assessment before every lesson. You watch a video and read the lecture slides before coming to class so you are able to do the test. The results are cumulative so you’ll have to be consistent in your learning. But that makes you inclined to keep up every week.

I would love to go overseas to get ideas for my business. Do REP students go abroad as part of their studies?

All REP students spend their third year overseas. This is paid for under the scholarship you get as an REP student. Imagine one whole year of living, learning and exploring abroad!

And do you get to choose which overseas university to attend?

Yes, you can pick from four top universities – University of California, Berkeley, Imperial College London, Northwestern University and the latest addition, University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Since your classroom is just one minute away from your hall room, you can wake up 15 minutes before class!

Wow, that sounds really exciting. I think living on the NTU campus is a good option too.

Each REP cohort is kept quite small at about 60 people. The newest batch of REP students lives in the same residence at Banyan, Binjai and Tanjong Halls, where their classes are also held. So your class is literally a minute away.

Do you mix with students from other programmes?

Yes, as there are students from other programmes in every hall. That’s one huge advantage of being a hall resident. Joining a hall camp will help you meet others who stay in your hall – people who are just a stone’s throw away when you need help. There are many opportunities to mingle at hall events and make new friends, plus your roommate in your first year will be someone who’s not from REP.

What about co-curricular activities (CCAs)? Are students able to create new CCAs if they don’t exist yet?

If you join a CCA, you can expand your social circle. You can start a CCA, but just make sure it can be sustained. You can even start a hall CCA. For example, NTU has the annual inter-hall games, where the different halls compete in all sorts of tournaments. If other halls have a basketball team and your hall doesn’t, you can start and train your own team. My classmate started The HotBox, a business to cater to students who want supper delivered to them in the hall.

An NTU Renaissance Engineering Programme student chats to a Singapore Polytechnic student


Yeah, supper is a big thing here. If our CCA ends around 10pm or 11pm, we can get quite hungry. The HotBox helps by collecting orders from students for food sold outside NTU and delivering the meals to our doorstep.

There’s a food court in your hall too, right?

Yes, and there’s also the biggest gym in NTU at Binjai Hall, where the REP students are. The facilities here are very good. There’s an indoor sports hall, a badminton court and a basketball court. There’s also NTU’s new sports centre that is just a 10-minute walk away.

How much do you have to pay for your hall room?

Under the REP scholarship, we get an accommodation allowance of up to $2,000 a year. The cost of the hall room is about $330 a month. The allowance won’t cover that entirely, but it is good enough.

On a monthly basis, how much will I have to budget for everything?

The scholarship gives you an allowance of about $3,000 per semester. There are about six months a semester, so if you divide that, you have about $500 a month to spend. It’s possible not to bust that budget. REP students get an additional $500 per year to buy books, but you don’t need to buy many physical textbooks as you can get e-books.


Oh yes, another thing about REP is that you do your tests and most of your class work on an iPad, which comes with your programme.

Finally, what time do lessons start?

My classes start at 9.30am every day.

No 8am classes?

Thankfully not. Since your classroom is just one minute away from your hall room, you can wake up 15 minutes before class!