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Founding Dean's Prior Messages

Founding Dean's Farewell Message - 23 June 2016

Dear SIS,

It has been over thirteen and a half years since the founding of SIS. In the course of these 13 academic years, the school has gone through three phases.

Beginning: Achieving our first cohort of BSc (ISM) graduates.

MOE gave SMU the approval to go ahead with a fourth school in the Infocomm area in the later part of 2002.  I joined SMU as the first employee in this new Infocomm School at the end of November 2002. Right at the outset of this start-up phase, we began our partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), initially focusing on support for faculty recruitment and curriculum design. We made our initial staff and faculty hires. We interviewed the pioneer batch of BSc (ISM) applicants in the first half of 2003. We created our BSc (ISM) curriculum from scratch, and actively revised courses and curriculum structure after each semester as we obtained feedback and experience. In those early years, we were able to start hiring our instructors as well.  We developed our initial SIS research and project areas. We brought in a few smaller-scale and moderate-scale externally funded research grants. We started our PhD in IS programme with an intake of four students at the start of AY2006. We had some undergraduate students who completed the programme in three years or three and a half years, and they graduated in 2006. Our first cohort of undergraduate students to complete the programme in a full four years graduated in July 2007.

Growth: Achieving a full spectrum of educational programmes, as well as a regular stream of externally funded R&D projects.

This time period spans AY 2007 to AY2010. During this time, we were running three main education programmes: BSc (ISM), MITB, and PhD (IS) and student enrolment steadily increased in each. We were also running our MSc (IS) as well. We actively revised and refined the curriculum structure and content, as well as the style of learning for all of our education programmes.  Our faculty headcount continued to increase.  Our SIS R&D research and project areas continued to evolve, and we started to bring in externally funded projects on a more regular basis and from a wider range of sources. Singapore’s national R&D funding sources became more comfortable with funding Computer Science, Information Systems Technology, and Information Systems Management research at SMU as our scale and strength increased. Our SIS faculty and project teams became a more regular part of Singapore’s national Infocomm R&D landscape. During 2009, and throughout 2010, SMU and CMU worked on the grant proposal for the Living Analytics Research Centre. That five-year award agreement was signed in January 2011. It was the first “mega-project” for SIS, and it set the stage for the LiveLabs award in 2012, and for several of our other future R&D projects.

Critical Mass: Achieving strength and depth across education, academic publishing, and project research.

This time period starts with AY 2011 and brings us to today. Our MITB and PhD (IS) education programmes continued to grow in size. We added our MAIS programme. We launched the SMU university-wide 2nd major in Analytics. We teamed with SMU’s LKCSB to introduce a track within the Doctor of Innovation programme to accommodate practitioner-scholars who want to focus on information systems technology or management. We shortened the name of our undergraduate programme by one letter—from BSc (ISM) to BSc (IS) —to emphasize that our students must master the technology side of information systems, in addition to the management side. In response to evolving trends in technology research, industry applications, media consumption, and in how students learn, we made extensive upgrades and revisions to our undergraduate programme, and to our other education programmes as well.

During this phase, we substantially expanded our SIS centres, labs and initiatives, and now have a wider range of larger-scale and small- and medium-scale externally funded projects. Some are research focused. Some are more aligned with our educational programmes and the related student projects. Some are hybrids. All of our centres, labs and initiatives contribute to what is now a very rich SIS ecosystem of opportunity and innovation that integrates across academic scholarship, research publishing, application projects, education, technology transfer to the external world, and community outreach and engagement. Along the way, we have continued to refine our research and project areas into the current five main areas plus two integrative areas that you see on the SIS website today.

Since the founding of the school, the cumulative funding received by SIS from all external R&D sources (not counting MOE Tier 1 funds) has exceeded S$105 million. Most of this external R&D funding was awarded to SIS from calendar year 2011 onwards from Singapore government R&D funding sources—starting with the first phase of LARC and followed by other large-scale grants: LiveLabs, Shine Seniors, UNiCEN and Secure Mobile Centre. Along with these larger scale government R&D awards for our major centres and labs, we were also able to secure substantial levels of additional R&D funding from other government agencies, and from industry for research projects and for student innovation projects aligned with our education programmes. This additional R&D support came in from ASTAR, DSO, IDM Programme Office, Alexandra Health/KTPH, Standard Chartered, Tata Consultancy Services, DHL, Ping An Insurance, DBS, NEC, and others.

Based on the strong work of our ongoing R&D efforts, SIS will soon receive another $30  million of new external R&D awards for several projects—LARC second phase, new work with MHA, and our new Centre for Applied Smart Nation Analytics (to  support translational efforts of both LARC and LiveLabs). More external R&D funds will come to SIS if we continue to keep up the good work and strong output, continue our strong relationships with our external partners, and if we continue to team effectively across the school, across the university, and across SMU boundaries with our external research collaborators and co-investigators.

Through these efforts, our SIS ecosystem of research, education, and external engagement has become an integral part of all five of SMU’s Areas of Excellence (AoE):

  1. Analytics for Business, Consumer & Social Insights,
  2. Urban Management and Sustainability,
  3. Ageing and Healthcare Management,
  4. Finance and Financial Markets, and
  5. Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

While SIS efforts have already become very important to all five of these SMU AoE, we are just starting to scratch the surface of realising what SIS, in collaboration with other parts of SMU, can potentially achieve within and across these Areas of Excellence.

What a journey. Each and every one of you has played an important part in our SIS journey in your own particular way.  Our SIS faculty members have carried a huge and demanding load to  make  all of this happen in your various roles as thought leaders, scholars, researchers, project leaders, project investigators, educators, student project supervisors, and community outreach and community service volunteers. In fact, our entire SIS community carried a huge and demanding load to achieve all of this, including our administrative team, our instructors, our resident research staff, and our students. Our faculty and staff teamed together in all of these efforts, often in seamless and selfless ways.

For that, I thank you. Thank you for coming together as the SIS community to make all of this possible. Thank you all for your dedication, good ideas, and hard work. Thank you for persisting on this journey.

Be proud of what we have all been able to accomplish together as the SMU School of Information Systems community.  As we transition into our next chapter with our new SIS Dean, Prof PANG Hwee Hwa, please keep up that truly remarkable SIS spirit. Keep up that great sense of dedication and commitment. And keep up your strong support for the school overall and for the SIS Dean.  Once again, thank you for everything you have done to support SIS over all the years that you have been here.

Founding Dean's Message - 2016

The SMU School of Information Systems (SIS) has been remarkably successful both locally and globally. People who get acquainted with our School describe us as a “gem” and “one of Singapore’s best kept secrets”.

The School is a great place to study IT and Information Systems because of the way we bring together the academic depth with real-world business, management, government and social needs. Our BSc (IS) is internationally recognised for successfully integrating innovative software applications with people and business settings.

A case in point is the role that SMU SIS plays in national initiatives such as:

  • SMART Nation
  • Analytics for Business, Consumer & Social Insights
  • Cybersecurity & Data Privacy
  • Urban Management & Sustainability
  • Ageing-in-Place
  • Financial Services Technology (FinTech)

We work with many national agencies and leading industry players on joint projects in these areas. These organisations actively seek our students to work as interns and full-time employees. As our economy and global landscape shift rapidly, our School is well-positioned to equip you to be a part of this transformation. Our SIS students can make lives better, and make society more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations, and improve business innovation and productivity.

I invite you to make SIS your choice for the next phase of your learning journey.

Last updated on 15 Jan 2021 .