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The Reunion of Three Good Friends from NTU at Stamford School

The common thread that connects these three gentlemen is their alma mater, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. NTU herself needs no further introduction. A quick search on the internet returned the following result: "NTU was ranked 11th in the world and 3rd in Asia in the 2020 QS World University Rankings. NTU also came in overall 1st in the world in the ranking of young universities for five consecutive years in the QS Top 50 Under 50 rankings from 2015 to 2019."

Dr Peter Darmawan and Dr Hosea Tantang had known each other first. They were PhD students at the same faculty, the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), at NTU. NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering is ranked 3rd in the world by subject in the materials science department, according to 2020 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. "As PhD students, we have our common struggles, such as having to spend many hours in the lab and the mental stress of having to produce results in order to graduate. The sheer amount of work that we have to cope with in juggling our research and our other duties can be overwhelming at times. As such, we tend to grow very close to our lab mates, especially when we are both Indonesian." Dr Peter shared.

Upon graduation, Dr Peter went to work at the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, with a strong recommendation from his PhD supervisor, Prof Lee Pooi See. Dr Peter had spent about two years over there until the great Tohoku Earthquake struck Japan with such destruction in 2011. "It was when the Fukushima nuclear power plant started leaking that made me nervous and worried. I made the decision then to return to Singapore, just in case.", Dr Peter recollected. Fortunately for Dr Peter, Prof Lee Pooi See was setting up a new laboratory at CREATE Research Campus in NUS. He applied for a position in Prof Lee Pooi See's research group and was accepted.

It was at the CREATE Campus that Dr Peter reconnected with Dr Hosea Tantang and got to know Mr Indra Susanto.

Dr Hosea has a very impressive resumé. He came to NTU for his undergraduate degree as an ASEAN scholar and graduated with the First Class Honours (the equivalent of Summa Cum Laude) from the School of Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Business. As Dr Hosea has a burning passion for commercialisation of science and technology, he furthered his studies and earned his Master's of Science in Technopreneurship & Innovation degree from the Nanyang Technopreneurship Centre, NTU, a degree with the aim to equip scientist with business and entrepreneurial skills to start up a business venture.

Mr Indra was working on biosensors to detect Malaria when he was working at CREATE campus. He holds a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Engineering under the Singapore Stanford Partnership Programme, which is a joint programme between NTU and Stanford University in the USA. As with other programs involving an ivy league school, it is a highly competitive programme with a stringent selection for students from Singapore, China, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and many others. One key element of the programme is that Mr Indra got to have a complete immersion for one academic quarter at Stanford University, experiencing first hand, the rigour of academic pursuit in one of the most prestigious schools in the world. With a passion for education, he also earned a Master's of Education degree. The heartwarming testimonials that his students sent to Mr Indra are a testament to his teaching ability and his popularity with the students.

Now, another common thread binds Dr Peter, Dr Hosea and Mr Indra together. They are educators working at Stamford School.

Q: What makes you interested to be an educator?

Mr Indra: “I enjoy being a Teaching Assistant during my undergraduate days. I found my passion for teaching through my exposure in teaching a large number of students in the university, be it in class or laboratory setting. I gained great satisfaction when my students gave their feedback to me or to my Professor, telling her that they have been learning a lot and enjoyed my tutorial class. I find this very rewarding and this motivation propels me to delve deeper into the education field with the hope to touch many more lives.”

Dr Hosea: “During my PhD days, I was assigned to instruct tutorial classes and become a mentor to final year students. I discovered joy in guiding my students through a complex topic to finally arrived at a clear understanding of the critical concept of the subjects. On the other hand, I empathise with other groups of students who do not get proper guidance and thus struggling with their academic studies. This inspires me to be an educator that is accessible to all, and I want to play a part in their success story.”

Dr Peter: "I think it was after President Jokowi got elected as President that I considered returning home to Indonesia. To me, it was a signal of hope and change in Indonesia. Given my background, one good fit that I felt I could contribute to the nation-building is through education. As with Mr Indra and Dr Hosea, my first experience as an educator was during my PhD days in NTU, where teaching tutorial classes for undergraduates was a part of my duties. After I became a Research Fellow, I had the privilege of guiding young students from Hwa Chong Institution and NUS High School of Mathematics and Science for their Young Scientists projects. Those two occasions were like the ‘Eureka’ moment for me. I truly enjoyed teaching and guiding them and it gave me immense joy to see them advance to the finals. It was probably then that I developed a keen interest in becoming an educator."

Q: What do you hope to achieve as an educator?

Mr Indra: “I aspire to be a specialist in curriculum development. Over the years, I have taught many different groups of students, and it has helped me to find creative ways to deliver lessons that are notoriously difficult (e.g. chemistry) to be enjoyable for my students. My students know that I always believe in them and that they can achieve more than they could, even though many times they don’t believe in themselves. Ultimately, I aspire to give hope to my students and help them to achieve their dream“

Dr Hosea: “As an educator, I would like to equip the students with necessary skillset and values that they would need to embark in their further endeavour. Intellectual curiosity, tenacity in overcoming challenges, and moral virtues are what I hope to infuse to my students’ character. And lastly, I am looking forward to hear many success stories from my students.”

Dr Peter: "What I hope to accomplish as an educator is to instil positive values such as hard work, giving your best, perseverance, honesty, integrity, and most importantly, kindness and compassion to all my students. Also, I hope to be someone that the students can depend on as someone they can trust and someone who will always be there for them to give the support that they need. I firmly believe that with the right attitude and character, knowledge will come naturally, and students will find success in life."

We are indeed very honoured and privileged to have Dr Hosea, Mr Indra and Dr Peter as our faculty members.

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