Professor Subra Suresh, the new President of NTU, unveiled the Smart Campus vision in January this year, aiming to harness the power of digital technology and tech-enabled solutions to support better learning and living experiences, the discovery of new knowledge, and the sustainability of resources.
Announced initiatives under the Smart Campus vision include a Smart Pass embedded with a contactless identity chip to be used for cash-free payments, and in the near future, for personal identification, security access and more; trials for Singapore’s first electric bicycle-sharing service; a cooperation agreement with Volvo Buses for development of the autonomous electric buses; and trials of an ultra-fast charging electric shuttle in collaboration with BlueSG Pte Ltd.
The learning hub, ARC, serves as a new nerve centre of the NTU Smart Campus, where digital technologies are adopted to support better learning and discovery, and improve the sustainability of resources.
The ARC is equipped with the latest technologies to support the flipped classroom pedagogy, wherein students learn the course content online before class and the face time with professors and classmates is devoted to collaborative learning.
NTU had set a target to design at least 50 per cent of its undergraduate courses using the flipped classroom pedagogy by 2020. The university is on track with 314 or 32 per cent of courses already redesigned, and another 170 currently undergoing conversion.
The 6-storey building has 56 smart classrooms, equipped with multiple LED screens, wireless communication tools and flexible clustered seating designed for group discussions.
With the completion of The Arc, NTU now has more than 280 smart classrooms. Together with other recently completed buildings such as The Hive and the Clinical Sciences Building in Novena, 116 new smart classrooms have been built since 2015. In addition, NTU has converted 166 smart classrooms from existing tutorial rooms.
The Arc also has 13 project discussion rooms, a dedicated reading room, and a 108-seat lecture theatre. It has two lower levels with rooms that serve as workshops for engineering students.
The Arc will also house the majority of NTU’s Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) facilities, which researches various areas of smart technologies such as printable electronics, lightweight aircraft components, and even 3D printed medical implants.
The Arc has been designed with innovative and eco-friendly features. It has aluminium sunscreens instead of walls to reduce solar glare and hear. This keeps the rain out while allowing constant ventilation throughout the day.
The air-conditioning system at the hub saves energy by using passive cooling coils to chill the air without the use of fans. These coils work by creating a natural convection cycle, cooling the air as it sinks downwards, which displaces the warm air upwards. Other energy-saving features include energy-efficient LED lighting and motion sensors.
The Arc has already been awarded the Green Mark Platinum in 2017 – the highest award for sustainable building design in Singapore from the Building and Construction Authority.
Over 95 per cent of the buildings on the NTU campus are now Green Mark Platinum certified (equivalent to LEED-Platinum certification in the USA), well on track to achieving the target of 100 per cent by 2020.
Prof Suresh said, “We aim to be the world’s Smart Campus and demonstrate how innovative tech-enabled solutions can help improve everyday life in a sustainable manner. Of course, technology is just one side of the coin as the other important element NTU will focus on is its impact on society and how it bolsters the natural environment.”
The Arc was launched today by Professor Suresh and five Student Club presidents. Prof Suresh said, “The Arc is designed not just for learning but to create opportunities for students to get together to discuss ideas and interact across disciplines. It is therefore fitting that we have five student leaders with me today to officiate the opening of this new building together.”
He added, “The creation, transmission and dissemination of knowledge is at the heart of any global university. In this digital age, students learn using technologies in pedagogical modes that are often distinctly different from those used by earlier generations, and they will graduate into a rapidly changing workplace which will demand for interdisciplinary and collaborative skills.”
“The Arc is one of the key pieces in NTU’s flipped classroom transformation. This model of learning will prepare students with the necessary skills to excel in jobs which may not even exist today.”
NTU Students’ Union President (NTUSU), Edward Lim, a third-year undergraduate, said, “Like many other students, I’m looking forward to having lessons at The Arc with its state-of-the-art smart classrooms, project rooms and comfortable nooks and corners that are conducive for group discussions.
“We enjoy the flipped classroom way of learning as we do not just listen to lectures passively but now engage in discussions actively. With lively interactions with professors and fellow students, students take on a more dynamic and participative role in their own learning.”