IT has been three years since the Institute for Engineering Leadership (IEL) was established by the NUS Faculty of Engineering and continues to evolve. IEL charts its success in how it has affected the lives of its students and the emergence of new engineer-leaders.

A word from some of our budding Engineer-Leaders:

Li Liang: Research with Real Impact

Li Liang, a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering, attended the first experiential tech-to-market module conducted by the IEL’s Enterprise Development Lab (EDL) in 2012. His experiences had a profound impact. Li Liang was shown how important it was to define problems & opportunities, understand the needs of the end-user, and to robustly test assumptions. The module changed his mind-set and broadened his perspective on his work. He decided to go beyond the lab bench; he wanted his research to really make a difference. He now had the knowledge and skills to make this a reality. He refined his research focus which then resulted in a patented invention, and a new start-up. What holds even more meaning to him is that his new research will change lives. Li Liang has identified a biomarker to allow for early pneumonia detection in children. His start-up will produce rapid testing kits that will reduce childhood pneumonia related deaths.

Said Li Liang: “Through my journey, it appears to me important to always keep the link between research and its potential practical application in mind. By converting research findings into commercial products, your work will not only benefit more people, but also benefit your research itself by allowing you to see the big picture clearly. When you know you are helping people through your everyday work, it gives a strong motivation for you to move forward with all the strength you have.”

Devansh Sharma & Huub van Esbroeck: Tinkerers to Tech Leaders

Devansh and Huub spent a considerable portion of their time as Mechanical Engineering undergraduates working over the innards of discarded printers in a tiny cubicle. They were frustrated with the high cost of ink, and were determined to create a printer that didn’t consume any. Their tinkering time was driven by a love to create new things. The team won a student grant to take their idea further and found a mentor in Visiting Professor Luda Kopeikina, Head of EDL. Devansh and Huub found a ready ear, a space for them to park their assorted tools & scraps, and a platform to learn about making ideas a reality in the EDL’s modules as well as in the Management of Technology programme conducted by the Division of Engineering & Technology Management – a close academic partner of IEL. They are now co-founders of a start-up company, Structo, which is set to make waves in 3D industrial printing. More importantly they are leading a team of young engineers eager to make their own mark in the world.

Commenting on the key to being an Engineer-Leader, Huub said: “It is to simply pick up some tools, be willing to get your hands dirty and make things happen if you have an idea that you believe in.”

Added Devansh: “Going out there with the right attitude towards innovation is the key ingredient to success!”