Wednesday, 29 October 2014


When she isn’t working, Dr. Bimlesh Wadhwa enjoys spending time with her kids and watching movies. Her favourite movies are the classic Gone with the Wind, Disney’s Finding Nemo and Bollywood’s 3 Idiots and Bhag Milkha Bhag. The best places she’s been to are in her dreams and she cannot live without her morning tea.

Eight year old Bimlesh :)

Where did you grow up?
I was born in New Delhi, capital of the country of Taj Mahal, Biryani and Prata. Though I have lived half of my life in Singapore, I still call myself a proud Delhiite. Delhi has great people. It is a very fun-loving city and enjoyable too. I did my schooling and college studies in Delhi. My parents and most of my extended family are still in Delhi. Every year, I travel at least once to Delhi, the heart (‘Dil’) of India.

What are you currently working on?
Recently, I have been working on gender issues in interaction design with an anthropologist Samantha Berslin.
This work is about exploring possible ways of understanding and incorporating nuanced approaches to gender in its relationship with interaction design and computer science education. Too often research on gender is taken as equivalent to research on women, or relies on stereotypical or reified ideas of gender identity and difference. Much research on gender in the field of computer science has focused on addressing the ongoing under representation of women in the discipline in many “Western” countries or explored how and to what extent technology designed, produced, and used by “men” or “women”. Singapore presents an interesting alternative case to the “woman problem,” having approximate gender parity in computing.  It is interesting to explore how particular gender boundaries and stereotypes are made, reinforced, and complicated in teaching, learning, and doing design. 

At UTown

What do you like about SoC?
The School of Computing has been like home for the last 14 years. Surrounded by like-minded people, I have come to know them as family. I enjoy interacting with students on a day to day basis in this lovable and conducive environment.

What is the one thing you would change about SoC?
Wish all of us could laugh more & appreciate humor – e.g. have a digital board where we can post cartoons and funny things.

With students at STePS

What is something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love getting drenched in rain.
I like taking part in radio quizzes & often win them too. :)
I did MSc in High Energy Physics before venturing into computer science.
I love balloons.

Quick-Fire! Worst design?
Shutdown in Windows 8

Guilty pleasures?
Singing in the car driving alone. Getting excited over small things such as new iPhone cover.

Four ultimate dinner party guests?
Dory - but she might need her own fish bowl
Wall-E - He might come with a plant but is cute either way!
Remy - He would cook the best Ratatouille for dinner :)
Barbara Liskov - there is no Substitute (LSP)

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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Chirpy Clovis

Clovis Tan studied Electronic Commerce graduated in June this year. He thinks that maybe he should have practiced his programming a bit more, but otherwise he had a blast here. If you’d like to peeve this oft-good-humoured dude, just unleash a torrent of broken English on him. It isn’t widely known, but the man can also play the piano and sing. 

What do you do now? 
Well, I am now a Senior Officer at the Immigrations and Checkpoint Authorities. I know it is totally irrelevant to my course at NUS, but I am actually pursuing what I love to do. I personally do not like doing mundane 9-5 desk jobs and my position as a Senior Officer & Team Leader at ICA allows me the adrenaline and constant hype that I actually quite crave for! Basically, border security is the crux of my job scope and being part of the Home Team allows me to cultivate and nurture my passion to serve and for leadership!
I actually do still read quite a bit on data mining and am still interested in big data. Information harvesting and essentially making sense of these infinite data that is practically floating around is prevalent in almost every working environment. Organisations want to be better and more often than not, they rely heavily on these data to either be ahead or to be both efficient and effective. ICA isn't any different and yes, data harvesting is certainly both a science and an art here!

Describe your SoC experience.
Wow, where do I begin... I can touch my heart and say that it was and is (up till now), the best 4 years of my life. I came in thinking that, you know, I would just try to get by university but what I acquired at SoC, and the opportunities made available to me at SoC, allowed me to not just grow, but excel. I was the Director of Sports in my freshman year and in that year my committee and I started the annual SoC Sports Camp in 2011! What a breakthrough that was! We saw that students from other faculties at that time had the idea that SoC-ians were boring and geeks and that drove us to prove them wrong. What delights me most is really seeing this camp grow from strength to strength and I hope this will stay on as a tradition for SoC! Truth is, some faculties are still amazed at how we are actually doing this and making a sports camp happen. 
In my second year, we decided to rebrand SoC's O'Week. I had the most amazing committee that believed in the same vision I did and we made history by not only just having a proper computing bash at Sentosa's Wavehouse, [but also having] the biggest camp turnout ever (at that time in 2012). PARODY 2012 was to me, the best experience at SoC. I would stay in school for 2 straight weeks at SoC during the days when I was organising camps and not have a proper bed or sleep. That adrenaline is really one to die for. Being the project director and eventually seeing the camp to its fruition showed me how amazing this faculty can be and I am just thankful and privileged to be part of it all. Especially after I stepped down from my committee positions and people actually thank me for the effort I had placed in doing a certain something, that drives me to want to be a better person. Knowing that people appreciate you really keeps you going and the acknowledgement not only from the students, but also the faculty is something that really humbles me.
I was also a student representative at the Students' Union level for SoC, the Director of Internal Relations and Alumni Relations (in 2012) and the elected Student Welfare Secretary (in 2013) of the NUS Students' Union. My heart was always wanting to make a difference in the lives of NUS students but truth be told, it was at SoC where I felt most at home. Some of my closest friends are friends I made at SoC. Though I struggled a little in the beginning, my more learned friends never fail to guide me. 
Programming was a big challenge for me, honestly. But at E-Commerce, we are required to not only program and understand the IT aspect of the broader scheme of things, we are also required to articulate and incorporate the business side of things into our projects. That, on its own, is something I find both challenging and yet, at the time, really interesting! Dr Anand Ramchand is one faculty staff member who not only encouraged me since I was in my freshman year, he guided me and believed in me enough during my time at SoC. Not only was he my coach for 2 case competitions, I was his teaching assistant for 2 semesters and I would say that I am deeply touched by his sincerity all these years!
In my final year, I also represented SoC and NUS at an International Business IT Case Competition in Vancouver and that really left a strong, lasting impression on me. I grew so much as a person during that whole training process and I would say that it was one of the few things that I will always hold dear to my heart. Like they always say, it’s these sorts of memories that make a person whole. 
SoC is such a small faculty and, yes, we may not have the manpower to do big things or what not but we certainly are a close-knitted family. I would have never traded that for anything else. [The thing I enjoyed the most was] seeing familiar faces around SoC each and every day. Literally :)

What is the one thing you would change about SoC?
I would prevent other students from using our common, air-conditioned study areas at the basement and outside SR1! We need some exclusivity yo, it’s our zone!

What do you count as your most significant achievement to date?
Winning a medal (NUSS Medal for Outstanding Achievement) during commencement and seeing my parents glow with pride :) That medal summarises everything I had ever lived for in SoC and NUS and being presented with that award during my commencement really had me thanking God, my friends and my family for their belief and support throughout my 4 years.
My passion is to make a difference and to, as a leader, leave something behind for my juniors to make better (like Bash, Sports Camp and Orientation Week). My desire is to lead by example and to prove critics wrong because there will always be these people around, no matter where you are! It all began when I started taking the leadership opportunities that SoC and NUS provided me with!
[To make it work, I had] to be able to compartmentalise my life properly; balance studies, extracurricular activities and friends well; sacrifice certain things (which I would say I wish I did not - like going on a semester long exchange). My girlfriend, Dionne, (though she is not from SoC, she was like an honorary SoC-ian) supported me and stood by me through it all. My Bro, Sean Pea (my batchmate), who helped me so much for my programming and being a listening ear. My BFF, Li Ru (my batchmate), for always making sure I was okay and most importantly, God, for everything and every blessing that He has showered me with! The medal that I had won would not have been possible without them!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Don't ever let anyone dictate who you should be. University is a time when you really find out who you are and who your real friends are! Oh and, don't just study!! University life is probably the last time in your life that you can really go all out to explore and enjoy! :)
Don't ever give up, ever. Even when the going gets tough. Cliché as it may sound but at the end of the day, be a person whom you want people to remember you for :) Stay true to your values and remember that the sky is the limit!

Quick-fire: Best song on air now?
BANG BANG by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nikki Minaj

Worst fear?
Having no friends.

If you could eat only three food items for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Sashimi, Rojak and the Barley Ginko Beancurd dessert haha!

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Friday, 3 October 2014

16 Things About SoC

This feature was written by fourth year Communications & Media student Sarah Tan as a 'build-up' to the NUS Computing Gala later this month and originally published on her blog. I have re-published it here with her permission.

The NUS School of Computing (SoC) is 16 this year, and we're commemorating it this month YAY! Haha if you're wondering what so great about 16 years that's worth celebrating, then you should stop thinking in decimal and start thinking in binary :P Which is also why our Gala Dinner is to be held on 24th Oct :D

In celebration of special event, I've decided to write a post to showcase some of the rich history of our 39 years. And so in binary numbering, here are 16 things you didn't know about Computing. Number 5 really blew my mind!

Disclaimer: all photos in this post were either taken by me or from the school. If you see a picture of yourself here and would like it removed, just let me know.

1. Our roots can be traced back to 1975

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Progressive Nishanth

Nishanth Sudharsanam studied Computer Engineering and graduated in 2012. Before moving to Singapore and leaving the country for the first time at age 16, he lived in Chennai, India. He reads a lot of non-fiction, biographies and biopics to get more perspective on life, is a fan of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, enjoys south Indian classical music, cooking, and staring at the wall and day dreaming (but he calls it "assimilation" to make himself feel better). The man also deserves a ginormous award for his response to the quick-fire question, ‘Worst fashion trend?’ – he said ‘Heels’. *mic drop*

What do you do now? 
I founded Klinify, a healthcare start-up. Our vision is to unlock medical data and use it to save lives. The most popular and sadly, the most usable tool for managing patient records right now is paper. Data locked away in paper folders isn’t very useful. So, the first step is to ease the workflow of doctors by giving them better tools to manage patient data. The next step would be to help them use the data to drive healthcare forward.
As a computer engineer, I was shocked by the inefficiency in the healthcare system, and I wanted to fix it. At first sight it seems like doctors are tech-averse, but that's not so. They use and operate some pretty hi-tech machinery. They are however busy people operating in a high stress environment, so they have a strong preference for systems that get out of their way and allow them to focus on their practice. The tools available to manage patient records are too clunky, so they keep reverting to paper.
I felt this was very fixable with modern tablets and text-recognition technology, and the lack of usable data is greatly holding back data-backed innovation in healthcare. [I think in the next decade, this field will result in] better, smarter and more accessible healthcare, and computer aided diagnoses.
Klinify definitely [is my most significant achievement to date]. The whole process of starting from scratch, identifying a problem, a potential solution, selling it, and the convincing others to join you for the ride (be it investors or colleagues) has been quite a journey and I feel good when I look back at how far we have come and how much I have learnt. It is a very incomplete achievement though. There is a long way to go before I [will] feel a sense of pride at what we have accomplished.

Describe your SoC experience.
I like math and computer science, so the modules were obviously fun. The environment at SoC is casual, and had a feel of self-initiated learning as opposed to strictly imposed curriculum. There was lot of room to explore and play around, so it was a great atmosphere to be in.
[What I found most interesting and useful was] the focus on learning reusable concepts, like algorithms, architecture instead of programming languages, specific implementations. It helped me start thinking in terms of systems, processes and algorithm as opposed to one-off fixes. It is a very practical skill that extends far beyond computing, and I believe I honed that skill at SoC.
[The one thing I would have done differently during my time here would be to have] picked specific modules, perhaps one per semester and gone all out to gain really in-depth knowledge about it. 

What is the one thing you would change about SoC?
CS1101C seems to have the effect of making most non-programming (typically non-SoC) students develop a strong aversion to programming, which makes me sad, because many of these are smart people scarred by that one intense experience. Given that programming is such an important skill these days, part of me wonders if the initiation could have been gentler. Perhaps focussed less on C and more on the concepts behind it?

Which faculty members made impressions on you?
Wow, that's a long list, because I enjoyed most of my modules. The most prominent were probably -
Profs Juzar Motiwalla, Martin Henz, and Pete Kellock for their guidance and genuine support, even when they knew we had no clue what we were doing initially.
Prof Ben Leong, for introducing me into SoC with that awesome scheme module that remains among my best at SoC.
Profs Wong Weng Fai and Lee Wee Sun, for the ATAP that led to my FYP and the SPC programme respectively. They helped me explore my interest in Comp. Sci. research. Something I hope to get back to someday.
Prof Damith for an extremely useful software engineering course, the importance of which I failed to appreciate until 1 year after graduation when I had to maintain and collaborate on a project that was becoming a little too large for me to hack my way through.

What is something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I was extremely interested in becoming a quantitative analyst in an investment bank in the first couple of years of university. I did a minor in financial maths, an internship in Credit Suisse, finished my CFA level 1 and also signed up for level 2. And then the start-up bug bit me, and investment banking began to seem a little boring. I'd still like to finish my CFA sometime, more for fun though than to become a banker.

Quick-Fire: Most interesting use of or development in technology this year?
HP's The Machine sounds very interesting. Practical experiments in Quantum teleportation have started to validate theory, which is huuge!

Pet peeve?
So often I see the loudest - not the soundest argument wins.

Three ultimate dinner party guests 
Richard Feynman, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates (I’d just serve food and listen to them talk to each other)

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