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Asia-Pacific: finding a place at the National University of Singapore

As a female engineer, Rebecca Tan felt there were lots of reasons why the National University of Singapore was the right choice for developing her skills

  • Student life
  • Study abroad
Rebecca Tan 's avatar

Rebecca Tan

July 6 2017
National University of Singapore - Asia Pacific


When I first told close friends that I was thinking of pursuing civil engineering at university, lots of them discouraged me.

“Why civil engineering? Isn’t it for males?” “Rebecca, you will have to work outside every day; it's a tough job for men and even tougher for women.” This was some of the “advice” given to me. I knew that civil engineering was a male-dominated industry, however that did not stop me from putting it as my first choice in my application to the National University of Singapore (NUS). I was particularly attracted to the idea that studying as a civil engineer there might mean experiencing the possibility of helping to shape the development of Singapore.

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Besides being a top university in Asia, NUS was my first choice because of its well-established programmes and vibrant student life. I thought I would be able to achieve a good balance between academic excellence and personal development while there.

Pacific University Ranking 2017 here

The grade-free semester that NUS offers to all freshmen made NUS an even more attractive choice. I felt that the university was dedicated to providing a holistic education, where students can explore their interests and broaden their perspectives by reading beyond their degree discipline and by immersing themselves in university life.

I find that at the NUS Faculty of Engineering, our dedicated professors are more than willing to impart their knowledge to us, and their passion and commitment constantly inspire us to look to the future and try to be good civil engineers. Plus, studying civil engineering in Singapore has helped me to see the world from a new perspective. Looking at how the country has transformed from slums into a beautiful garden city within 50 years, I can appreciate the foresight, planning and expertise that brought about this transformation.

I have been involved in helping freshmen integrate into university life through my role as project director for the Civil and Environmental Engineering Orientation Camp – I've participated in several engineering camps as an Orientation Group Leader. I had a memorable freshman year and so I wanted new incoming students to enjoy their first years as much as I did. These camps are great and are run with the help and support of the NUS Office of Student Affairs, the faculty and the department. 

More student experience in Asia-Pacific 

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One of the best things about being an NUS student is the wide range of global education opportunities that students can access – I make a point of taking part in these.

In 2014 and 2015, I put my engineering knowledge to good use through participating in the Overseas Community Involvement Project, in which I was involved in building toilets and houses for local communities in Yunnan, China and Prey Veng, Cambodia, respectively. Taking part in the Study Trips for Engagement and Enrichment (STEER) in 2016 to Yunnan was another eye-opener for me, as I worked with a team of fellow NUS students to formulate a plan for the development of infrastructure in a remote village in Majiazhai, Kunming.

Last semester, I went on a student exchange programme at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, where I got to experience student life in a foreign country and made many local and international friends. These overseas stints have enabled me to gain insights into the practice of civil engineering in different countries, and have very much enriched my experience as an aspiring civil engineer. 


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