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Science education in Singapore will receive a boost with new partnerships forged between the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), the world's first bioengineering and nanotechnology research institute, and four partner schools to develop future scientists and technopreneurs.
IBN will formalize partnerships with the School of Science and Technology, Singapore (SST), NUS High School of Mathematics and Science (NUS High School), Singapore Polytechnic (SP), and National Junior College (NJC) through Memoranda of Understanding (MOU). This major initiative will take place at the 7th IBN Young Researchers' Nite, which will be officiated by Guest-of-Honor, Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), at the Biopolis today.
Since 2003, IBN's Youth Research Program (YRP) has endeavored to foster an interest in research among young people and inspire them to pursue careers in biomedical sciences through a range of activities. IBN is the first research institute to establish an official partnership with SST, NUS High School, SP and NJC, to encourage continuing scientific education. This partnership also represents the first educational agreement between a research institute and a future school, a specialized independent secondary school, a polytechnic and a junior college.
IBN will cooperate with its four official partner schools to create greater awareness among their students of the impact of bioengineering and nanotechnology research. This academic tie-up will help develop students' interest in scientific pursuits, through YRP outreach events such as open houses, science camps, seminars and career talks. YRP will also customize research attachment programs as part of the schools' curriculum.
IBN's MOU with SST will be a tri-partite agreement with the participation of Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd (ETPL), the strategic marketing and commercialization arm of A*STAR. ETPL will provide SST students and teachers with opportunities for exposure to technopreneurship.
IBN Director and YRP Chair, Ms Noreena AbuBakar, said, "We look forward to working with our partner schools to introduce innovative scientific research to their students. We are pleased to note that a significant number of students from NUS High School, SP and NJC have excelled during their research attachments at IBN and have received awards and scholarships to further their studies in science. We are delighted to establish official partnerships with these schools, as well as with the new SST, to encourage more young Singaporeans to pursue scientific research. The Memoranda of Understanding symbolize our collective commitment to nurture more scientific talents to boost the biomedical industry in Singapore. We hope more schools and academic institutions will join us in this exciting enterprise."
Mr Philip Lim, Chief Executive Officer of ETPL, added, "We welcome this partnership with IBN and SST to provide a window for SST students and teachers to understand more about commercialization of R&D and technopreneurship. We hope that through early exposure to commercialization work, SST students will be inspired to consider a career in building their own start-ups, which could become Singapore's next Creative Technologies or Hyflux."
SST Principal, Mr Chua Chor Huat, said, "At SST, our mission is to groom future thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs. This collaboration with IBN and ETPL will provide more opportunities for our students through the mentorship and attachments with their experts and researchers. Working in these authentic contexts will also broaden and deepen the students' learning, in particular, learning to make innovative use of technology, as well as to find creative ways of taking their products to the market place. This is very much in line with the learning approaches of SST."
"Our students have benefited immensely from their attachments at IBN, which have given them excellent exposure to cutting-edge research. We look forward to further collaboration with the signing of the MOU," added Dr Hang Kim Hoo, Principal, NUS High School.
"This MOU with IBN will expose SP's students and lecturers to a wonderful research environment. It will provide our lecturers and students with opportunities to work with leading research scientists and experience the state-of-the art research facilities at IBN. It is our hope that this will spark an interest in research and innovation in them. Our students will be motivated to pursue research as a career and go on to become scientists in the future. Similarly, SP's lecturers will be updated with the latest developments in science and engineering. The knowledge they gain can then be transferred into the course curricula for our students. This is truly a wonderful development for SP," commented Mr Lim Peng Hun, Deputy Principal (Technology and Industry), SP.
"NJC students will benefit first-hand from this dynamic partnership with IBN. We thank IBN for supporting us in creating distinctive and memorable learning experiences through science research for all NJCians," said Mrs. Virginia Cheng, Principal, NJC.
IBN Executive Director and YRP Advisor, Professor Jackie Y. Ying, said, "IBN has always advocated the mentoring of young people in their scientific pursuits. Together with our official partner schools, we hope to broaden the science education in Singapore by making research attachments at IBN a part of the students' academic curriculum. Through providing students with an enriching research experience, we help to shape their career paths and develop our future generation of scientists, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs."
The 7th IBN Young Researchers' Nite is an annual awards ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the previous year's YRP research attachment students and their mentors. YRP will present the Promising Young Researcher and Outstanding IBN Mentor awards at this event in recognition of achievements in 2009.
Since its inception in 2003, IBN's YRP has reached out to over 34,896 students and teachers from 228 local and international schools. This includes over 1,127 students and 38 teachers who have participated in full-time research attachments at IBN over a period of at least four weeks, during which they worked on active research projects under the guidance of an IBN researcher. To date, YRP students have won 35 local and international awards for their research projects conducted at IBN, and 89 YRP students have received scholarships to further their scientific pursuits. IBN looks forward to nurturing more young scientific talents through official partnerships with educational institutions.
For more information about IBN's YRP, please visit yrp.ibn.a-star.edu.sg/
To learn more about the Partner Schools, visit:
* Please refer to the appendix for details on the partnership with each institution.
About Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) was established in 2003 as a national research institute under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore, by Executive Director, Professor Jackie Yi-Ru Ying. Prof. Ying was a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1992-2005). In 2008, Professor Ying was recognized as one of "One Hundred Engineers of the Modern Era" by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for her groundbreaking work on nanostructured systems, nanoporous materials and host matrices for quantum dots and wires. Under her direction, IBN conducts research at the cutting-edge of bioengineering and nanotechnology. IBN's research programs are geared towards linking multiple disciplines across engineering, science and medicine to produce research breakthroughs that will improve healthcare and our quality of life.
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