By Hanis Rahmat
22 February 2018
Opening of The Arc
President Subra Suresh’s aspirations for the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) may just be turning into reality.
In his previous addresses to the NTU community, Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) new president, Professor Subra Suresh, outlined his aim of transforming NTU’s campus into Singapore’s largest smart campus.
On 21 February, the university held the official opening of The Arc, a new learning hub that serves as the second nerve center of the envisioned Smart Campus initiative in NTU, in addition to The Hive. Built at a cost of $41.5 million, The Arc was designed by DCA Architects. With 13 project discussion rooms and 56 smart classrooms with clustered seating arrangements, a collaborative learning approach is being included in NTU’s approach to teaching and learning.
Located in the North Academic Complex of the school (more commonly known amongst students as the North Spine), The Arc’s infrastructural features provide an alternative and progressive platform for teaching and learning to take place.
NTU Students’ Union (NTUSU) President, Edward Lim, mentioned how The Arc is equipped with “state-of-the-art classrooms, project rooms and comfortable nooks and corners,” that are “conducive for group discussions.” The Arc offers a plethora of learning spaces for NTU students, and is also equipped with a dedicated reading room, and a 108-seat lecture theatre.
Classrooms are each equipped with multiple LED screens, wireless communication tools and flexible clustered seats. The Arc will also house most of NTU’s Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) facilities. This includes facilities for research delving into smart technologies, such as 3D printed medical implants, lightweight aircraft components, and even printable electronics.
A New Pedagogical Approach
In his speech, Professor Subra Suresh emphasised how “the role of a professor is changing from someone who imparts knowledge to a student who is furiously copying down notes, to a mentor who shows and guides the student on a journey of discovery.” The completion of The Arc and its state-of-the-art facilities enables students to harness a more participative and dynamic role in their own learning.
President Suresh added that the practice of flipped classroom pedagogy in classrooms at The Arc will boost opportunities for “proactive” learning. As the university capitalises on flipped classroom pedagogy to enhance student learning, students also take greater ownership in their learning process. Advance preparation for classes is facilitated using technology to deliver content online, allowing students to prepare for class-time discussion on their own.
This approach to learning pedagogy prepares NTU students for a hyperglobalist world. Collaborative skills fostered in a flipped classroom setting, coupled with interdisciplinary knowledge and application, constantly change the economic and social landscape at an exponential pace. In the context of an increasingly competitive employment landscape, the development of these skills gives students a leg up over not just local, but global talent seeking footholds in Singapore.
Growing a Greener NTU
Apart from making President Suresh’s vision of transforming NTU into a smart campus a reality, he expressed his desire for a greener, eco-friendly university campus. He commented on the university’s reputation for being not only beautiful and aesthetically outstanding, but also being one of the eco-friendliest university campuses in the world.
The Arc champions sustainability through the design of the building itself. From the utilization of passive cooling coils without the use of fans in air-conditioning systems, to an aluminium sunscreen exterior, The Arc was awarded the Green Mark Platinum in 2017. It is a top award that recognizes sustainable building design in Singapore, conferred by the Building and Construction Authority.
Toward a Vibrant, Smart Campus
The Arc provides a space for the interaction of new technology with pedagogy that reinforces the shift toward proactive and smart platforms and materials for teaching and learning.
While the university continues to strive toward its vision of a smart campus, President Suresh noted that, “Education and innovation are (a) contact sport… and you want as much contact between students and faculty to come together, and this creates an opportunity (especially) when (the building) is inviting, and pleasant to be in – it brings the students in.” He mentions that vibrancy and dynamism can only be carried by the people – students and faculty – on campus.
Nicholas Teo contributed reporting.