FAQ

For Potential ESD Students:

How does ESD differ from the other pillars at SUTD?

All of SUTD’s degrees are significantly broader than their counterpart degrees in traditional universities. For prospective students, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the lines between ESD and the other degrees offered, most notably, Engineering Product & Development (EPD) and Information Systems Technology and Design (ISTD). In short, ESD focuses on infrastructure solutions that facilitates, runs, and optimizes systems. This is best shown through an example. Consider the specific challenge of delivering and deploying plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) widely throughout Singapore. Compare how the EPD, ESD, and ISTD pillars address the various components of this application:

  • EPD – Design the car for aerodynamics & comfort; design the vehicle’s engine and drive train; simulate and analyze the safety crash test; design and test a high capacity, efficient battery system.
  • ESD – Design the optimal charging policy given the battery technology; analyze the effect of surge energy demands after rush hour; design charging schedule based on dynamic pricing of electricity; analyze life-cycle carbon-footprint of PEV; determine optimal location for charging stations given traffic flow patterns.
  • ISTD – Design and implement car software, mobile device integration, status interface, heads-up display, and secure communication protocols both within the vehicle and between vehicles.

In general, ESD focuses on the logic that organizes and coordinates complex systems. This logic is rooted in modeling, analyzing, and optimizing the systems toward an efficient, productive, and cost-effective solution.

How does ESD differ from conventional programs?

Our ESD degree is also often compared with various other programs at different universities. ESD incorporates elements from industrial engineering, operations research, applied mathematics, system dynamics, economics, and business. Because the ESD curriculum and focus is so unique, there is no other degree program that includes both the depth and breadth that ESD provides. In a traditional university, ESD is most similar to an industrial engineering program. Industrial engineering (IE) also has a theme of modeling, simulating, and optimizing systems. In addition IE programs also introduce many of the same mathematical methods including operations research, discrete mathematics, and network analysis. A major component that differentiates ESD from traditional engineering programs is consideration of the socio-economic environment in which systems operate. This environment imposes many business- and policy-related constraints. ESD focuses on cultivating the understanding of how these surrounding factors influence the performance of these traditional technical methods and how these two areas can be melded together to yield more robust and efficient solutions.

What is the difference between ESD and Industrial Engineering (IE)?

Industrial Engineering (IE) is a subset of ESD and a student could choose to build a profile similar to that of an IE. ESD is broader because we embrace a wider range of applications and emphasize more economics, public policy and management.  An even more significant difference is the rigor of our courses, the high calibre of our faculty, and the unique educational experience we offer (smaller classes, industry involvement, project-based learning, research opportunities, and connection to MIT).

Are ESD graduates competitive with NUS ISE graduates?

SUTD is a selective school committed to educating the people that will be future leaders of industry, government, and academia.  We have many industry and government partners that have committed to hiring our students as interns and graduates as employees, which is a testament to the fact that they believe ESD students will be extremely competitive.

Will the ESD degree be accredited? If so, from which professional bodie(s)?

The ESD degree will be accredited – this is very important to ESD and to SUTD.  We have already achieved provisional accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Board (EAB). Because the accreditation status depends on how our graduates perform in the workspace, the process cannot be complete until several years after our first students graduate. EAB was set up by the Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) and is the Singapore signatory to the Washington Accord, which is the international agreement governing recognition of engineering qualifications and professional competence.

How is design incorporated into ESD?

One of the most exciting aspects of Design at SUTD is that it comes in so many forms and flavors.  The theme of design is very important in the study of systems.  ESD gives you the tools to model, analyze, and optimize real-world systems with a goal that our students will design robust infrastructures and design management policies that lead to increased efficiency, production, revenue, and performance in these complex systems.  In the pillar years you will engage in course design projects and case studies that facilitate this kind of thinking.

What specializations are available within ESD?

The ESD program gives you the opportunity to select 60 credits from elective courses.  This flexibility gives you the chance to customize your degree and specialize if you want to. One way to specialize is to follow one of the specific ESD focus tracks.

Does the ESD curriculum involve a lot of Physics?

The ESD core modules – Probability, Optimization,  Statistics, Operations Management, Stochastic & Network Modeling, etc. – do not directly include many Physics concepts.  However, these analytical tools can be used to study Physics problems.  In terms 6, 7, and 8 students choose the majority of their courses.  Since students can take up to 36 credits from another pillar, they can choose electives that are either related to Physics, or not related to Physics.

Does ESD offer a minor?

Currently ESD does not offer a minor.

For Current ESD Students:

If I complete a Focus Track, will it appear on my diploma?

Any focus tracks you complete will show up on your transcript.  You will send your transcript to future employers, so they will be able to see this accomplishment along with the rest of your courses.

Can I complete more than one Focus Track?

In principle, you may complete as many focus tracks as you want, however, you may run into scheduling conflicts. Because we want to make the courses available to the most students possible, we prioritize our scheduling for a single focus track.

Can I take just one course out of a two half-term course sequence?

Yes, you can take only one of the courses out of a pair of half-term courses, however, you must find another half-term course to fill the gap in your schedule. Ultimately, you must take 4 subjects at all times, unless you receive prior approval.