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Developing Business-IT professionals Under SMU-Carnegie Mellon Fast Track Programme

16 March 2006 - Speech By Professor Steven Miller, Dean, School Of Information Systems At The Signing Ceremony for SMU-Carnegie Mellon Fast Track Programme Offered Under the National Infocomm Scholarship, Singapore Management University.

Speech By Professor Steven Miller, Dean, School Of Information Systems At The Signing Ceremony for SMU-Carnegie Mellon Fast Track Programme Offered Under the National Infocomm Scholarship on 16 March 2006, Singapore Management University.

Good Morning,
Mr Chan Yeng Kit, CEO, IDA,
Dr Jared Cohon, President of Carnegie Mellon University,
Professor Howard Hunter, President of SMU,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies & Gentlemen.

The Infocomm industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in Singapore and also one of the major contributors to the economy. Not too long ago, an Infocomm or IT specialist simply meant someone who knows the workings of computers. But now, Infocomm professionals are highly regarded and sought after as professionals who value-add to non-traditional fields such as business analysis, research and development, digital media and consulting. In February this year, the Infocomm Development Authority released figures to show that the Infocomm sector contributed S$37 billion or more than 6 per cent of GDP last year. The task for universities like SMU and in particular, the School of Information Systems, is to ensure Singapore has a steady supply of Infocomm professionals to meet the challenges ahead.

2. As SMU's fourth and newest school, the School of Information Systems has made great strides. Set up in 2003, it aims to groom the next generation of IT professionals who will help Singapore adapt to the changing world of information technology. In 2003, SMU began working with Carnegie Mellon University to develop the curriculum for the School of Information Systems. The collaboration is a strategic one for both SMU and Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon is a premier university renowned for its excellence in information technology. It has consistently ranked top in the United States for its computer science programmes, and especially for its e-commerce programme for specialty business areas. Faculty from Carnegie Mellon has since brought a wealth of education and research experience to SMU - in particular, the integration of information systems in business. Today, students enrolled with the School of Information Systems in SMU benefit from a cross-disciplinary infocomm education that has a unique business-oriented focus. This is a first-of-its-kind degree programme that intertwines technology with a multitude of other business disciplines such as business management, accountancy and the liberal arts. It is also for SMU, a management university, to play this role and produce business-IT professionals with this hybrid skills set.

3. Today, we are pleased to announce a new fast-track programme that allows up to 40 outstanding Singaporean students, under the auspices of the prestigious National Infocomm Scholarship offered by the IDA, to pursue a SMU bachelor's degree and a Carnegie Mellon master's degree in as little as four years of full-time study instead of the usual five years.

4. Under this programme, students will spend the first two years at SMU's School of Information Systems and the next two to two and a half years at Carnegie Mellon. They will graduate with both a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management from SMU and a master's in IT from Carnegie Mellon in one of seven areas of specialisations. When the conventional route would require up to five and a half years, these scholars would achieve both degrees in as quickly as four years or another half year more. For scholars on this programme, they can expect it to have a strong research focus on the innovative uses of information systems to improve business performance and create economic value. As with all other programmes, a period of internship or summer work experience with infocomm companies will prepare students for the fast-paced real life working IT environment. I am happy to say that SMU is the first university outside of the United States to partner with Carnegie Mellon on such a unique programme. By spending an equal amount of time in Singapore and the US, scholars will have the excellent advantage of gaining a holistic educational experience by working alongside top faculty in both universities.

5. Current SMU students, who may not be under this scholarship programme, do also stand a chance to spend a semester in Carnegie Mellon under our international exchange programmes. Our close relationship with Carnegie Mellon also means there are many opportunities to host faculty exchanges, conferences, seminars and symposia on topics of mutual interest.

6. Thank you all very much for joining us here today to mark the Singapore Management University – Carnegie Mellon University collaboration for a fast track programme under IDA's National Infocomm Scholarship. It is a milestone for us and certainly one for developing Infocomm manpower for the economy.