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NTU EEE students go on exchange to Georgia Institute of Technology in US

​​​Going on overseas exchange is a university students' right of passage and an opportunity of a lifetime. An international exchange offers personal growth, independence, making lifelong friends and future colleagues. 

Two EEE student Duan Jiafei (EEE/Year 3) and Dewi Sendjaja (EEE/Year2) had the opportunity to do their exchange at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgie Tech) in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and it was an opportunity just too good not to pass upon. Much like NTU, Georgia Tech is a reputable university specialising in research and their electrical and computer engineering(ECE) department is highly well-established. Dewi wanted to get a sense of university life outside of NTU and Singapore, as the culture in American colleges is vastly different from Singapore. Jiafei wanted to experience living and studying in a different environment, and also expose himself to the global scene of engineering, which will hence enhance his overall university experience. photo_2020-04-02_18-42-23.jpg
​(Jiafei at Georgia Institute of Technology)

In Georgie Tech, some of the modules Dewi took up were Electromagnetics, Programming for Hardware and Software Systems, Multivariable Calculus, Analog Electronics, Digital Design Laboratory, and a Vertically Integrated Project, while Jiafei took Digital Signal Processing, Design and Innovation Project, Semiconductor, Electromagnetism, Engineering Maths II and Computer communication as his modules. Dewi's participation in Georgia Tech's Vertically Integrated Projects program involved the Innovation Studio which is Georgia Tech's own maker space that is similar to Garage@EEE. She also got to work with students from different schools so it was a pretty enlightening experience. Jiafei, on the other hand, got to work on his Design and Innovation Project (DIP) module. His DIP is an undergraduate research project working under the tutelage of the world-famous Dr Ayanna Howard, to build a VR environment for robotics simulations. 

Dr Ayanna Howard began her impressive career working at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 2008 she received worldwide attention for her SnoMote robots, designed to study the impact of global warming on the Antarctic ice shelves. In 2013, she founded Zyrobotics, which has released its first suite of therapy and educational products for children with special needs. She has also served as the associate director of research for Georgia Tech's Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines and as chair of the multidisciplinary robotics Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech. 
(Pictured left to right: Jiafei(NTU EEE), Yi zhen, Gabriela, Jingyu, Jieqi,Dewi(NTU EEE) and Jet)

In 2017 she became the Chair of The School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. Jiafei considers working under her tutelage to be the highlight of his university career. Dewi found herself enjoying Georgia Tech professors' live lectures as she found them to be more engaging instead of watching the usual lecture recordings. She also found American professors are generally more personable, articulate and would love to chat with their students outside of class. She was impressed that there are undergraduate teaching assistants at Georgia Tech, something you will not find possible in NTU. She also found there were some vast differences in the culture of learning in the US. Students in Georgia Tech seem more passionate about what they're learning as they always seem to be keen to ask questions related to topics outside of the scope of the syllabus. The focus there is a lot more on weekly homework and consistent learning which can be good to help students better understand the content and plan their study. 

In NTU, the final exam is a heavy component of the grade but in the US it is spread throughout multiple assignments and quizzes over the semester. Culture of sharing and helping seemed stronger in the US, with her US peers being more willing to help one another. If a stranger taking the same course isn't grasping the content very well, American students would generally offer advice. While both their exchanges were cut short due to the COVID-19 crisis, Dewi feels the exchange experience to be an unforgettable one with a lot of takeaways and lessons learned. She got exposed to a rigorous US college curriculum and met many wonderful people in 3 months. Jiafei found the overall experience to be a very enriching experience as he got to travel to many various states, make a lot of new international friends, experience a different culture and competed in Hackathon here. It's an experience that both Dewi and Jiafei would recommend it to their juniors that have plans to go US for exchange.photo_2020-04-02_18-44-21.jpg
​(Pictured left to right : Dr Ángel Cabrera​, President of Georiga Tech​, Jiafei and his lab team)

Published on 22 June 2020​​​​

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