SINGAPORE: Construction work will begin on Singapore Institute of Technology’s (SIT) centralised campus in the Punggol Digital District after a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday (Sep 10) officiated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Estimated to cost more than S$1 billion, the new 91,000 sq m campus is expected to be completed by 2023 and can accommodate up to 12,000 students. There are currently about 8,000 students across SIT’s campuses.
It will be the first autonomous university to have its campus in the north-eastern region of Singapore.
Speaking at the ceremony on Tuesday, Mr Lee said SIT will become a big part of the Punggol community. Being at the heart of the Punggol Digital District will strengthen SIT’s “close nexus” with the tech industry, he added.
“We hope to support an ecosystem for digital and tech companies here, to trial new concepts to work, study and live, before scaling them up nationally. By being co-located here, SIT faculty and students collaborate with industry professionals on projects and test-bedding opportunities,” the Prime Minister said.
The new campus will have link ways connecting it to JTC’s new business park. They will be served by Punggol Coast MRT Station, which is expected to open around the same time as the two developments.
WOHA and RSP Architects Planners and Engineers were commissioned to design the campus.
SIT and JTC have also exchanged 8,000 sq m of space to foster greater student-industry collaboration. Under this arrangement, industry partners will be able to operate within SIT’s campus, and students will attend classes in JTC’s building.
SIT has also made a deliberate choice to create more shared spaces as part of its new campus. Faculties are not segregated by buildings, and will instead take different floors within a few buildings. Laboratories will also be shared, instead of being designated to a single course, to optimise space.
The campus is designed with many community spaces to make it more accessible to Punggol residents.
For example, 1.7ha of existing green space will be retained to create a forest courtyard, and a heritage trail will run through the campus and straight to the waterfront.
SIT President Professor Tan Thiam Soon said that as the campus is being built in a time of technological change, it is a perfect time to reimagine the university’s role in the community.
“This is an opportunity for us to find new ways of learning and we have been working with grassroots leaders in Punggol to promote different programmes for the community,” he said, adding that the open design of the campus allows the public to observe students working on projects.
SIT has run science camps twice a year for primary school students in Punggol, as well as set up Skillscraft, a community makerspace in the Punggol 21 Community Club, Mr Lee noted.
The university will also offer more professional development courses for adult learners, including in areas of Food Technology and Precision Engineering.
SIT will install a campus-wide smart sensor network of more than 10,000 sensors, capable of collecting temperature, ambient light and human presence data.
The data is then shared with the building management system and will enhance campus experience and workspace efficiency, SIT added.
The campus is envisioned as a “living lab” that integrates applied research and innovation for SIT and its partners.
“The aim of the living lab is to support Singapore to be a regional hub for digital advancements and talent development, by integrating education, innovation and research into real-life environments and scenarios,” Associate Professor Steven Wong, SIT’s director of projects said.
The university will install a multi-energy micro-grid (MEMG) system – a collaboration between SIT and power supplier SP Group – at the new campus.
About 10,000 sq m of solar panels will be installed on roof tops and the energy generated will supplement the university’s power supply.
“Now that we can monitor nearly every aspect of our energy, be it the consumption or the supply, this allows us to fine tune whether we need to save excess energy that we get from the solar panels into batteries,” Assoc Prof Wong said.
Beyond the MEMG venture, SIT is currently testing out the possibility of deploying robot sentries, as well as installing a facial recognition system for security purposes.