By the SMU Digital Marketing Team
With so many factors to consider when choosing a university, such as curriculum, location, student life, and more, it is no wonder considering university offers presents a dilemma for many. To help you out, hear from SMU School of Computing and Information Systems (SCIS) senior, Gigi Teo. A final-year Bachelor of Science (Information Systems) student, majoring in Artificial Intelligence and Business Analytics, Gigi shares how she made her decision, and how her time at SMU has been a life-changing experience.
What made you decide on SMU?
In Junior College, I struggled to stay awake during lectures due to the large hall size. I heard about SMU’s interactive pedagogy, small class sizes and emphasis on presentations, and decided I would like to experience a different method of learning. Being encouraged to participate in class discussions and having the opportunity to gain more confidence through presentations has helped improve my soft skills.
What do you recall of your first month at SMU?
I vividly remember my first week. Most students were shy and afraid to participate whenever the professors posed a question. When I finally took a stab at speaking up, my voice actually trembled. During that first month, while I was still in the midst of familiarising myself with the SMU pedagogy, class participation seemed daunting. But it gradually got better as I became more comfortable and confident.
“When I finally took a stab at speaking up, my voice actually trembled.”
The teacher-to-student ratio in my first programming class — conducted by a professor, an instructor and two teaching assistants, was particularly impressive. Whenever I needed help, a member of the teaching team would readily and enthusiastically provide support. The teaching teams for all my classes would also always encourage us to schedule consultations whenever we had doubts about any concept.
What has been your favourite course so far?
It has to got to be Enterprise Solution Development, taught by Assistant Professor of Computer Science (Education) Christopher Poskitt. Professor Chris always communicated concepts in engaging ways. When we were tasked to create an enterprise solution, my group decided to build a web Pokemon game similar to what we used to play on game consoles in the past. This course was a perfect example of having fun while working hard.
What is one quality you have been able to nurture at SMU?
The desire to always be curious, never stop learning, and never stop asking questions. It is vital to have an insatiable curiosity about the world and to think critically every day. Learning should be a lifelong, ongoing process.
Tell us about your CCA experience.
I have been playing netball since my secondary school years, so I continued playing the sport at SMU Netball where I was Vice President in my third year. I wanted to have a go at different sports too, so I participated in quite a handful of CCAs during my four years at SMU: SMU Netball, SMU Climb and SMU Windsurfing. I was also in The Mentoring Circle, SMU Women in Tech (where I was Events Director this year) and Literati.
What sort of global exposure programmes have you embarked upon?
In 2019, I travelled to Hua Tat, Vietnam, for an overseas community service project (OCSP). We helped the community economically by improving their tourism activities, providing cleaner water through water filtration devices, and improving English literacy throughout the community. In 2020, I led the same OCSP as the overall project leader. However, our OCSP had to be conducted virtually due to the pandemic*. The virtual experience was different, but it was heartening to see that our efforts could still be continued via virtual means.
In 2020, I was slated for a study mission to Germany. However, again due to the pandemic, it was shifted online*. My team and I collaborated with a team from German cleaning equipment company, Karcher, via online platforms. Although we could not be physically immersed in German business culture, it was still a unique experience to collaborate with an international firm.
The following year, I attended a virtual summer class at the University of California, Berkeley, on Astronomy*. I have always been interested in Astronomy, but such courses are not readily offered here. The exposure to a different pedagogy and ability to experience a different university culture, albeit online, was invaluable.
In my final year of study, I embarked on an in-person international exchange to Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen. This was one of the most memorable experiences of my four years at SMU. SMU has many international university partners, and I was spoiled for choice when it came to selecting an exchange university. I enjoyed every moment of my exchange – from meeting local students and participating in events, to interacting with other exchange students, exploring Europe, and learning more about the cultures of various countries. The exchange has widened my perspective and provided unique experiences that I will always cherish.
How are you financing your education?
I have been privileged to be awarded the SMU Global Impact Scholarship, which helped finance my education. I also used my Post-Secondary Education Account to fund summer classes.
How has SMU prepared you for your career aspirations?
I am interested in pursuing a career in Artificial Intelligence and/or Software Engineering. SMU SCIS’ curriculum has equipped me with the knowledge required for roles in my fields of interest. Furthermore, I appreciate the numerous project opportunities throughout the programme, especially those that allowed for collaboration with external companies. They offered hands-on experience and provided insights into what a real-world project might entail.
During my time at SMU, I had the opportunity to work with established professors in their fields of study as a research assistant. The role allowed me to explore beyond the standard curriculum, and apply theoretical concepts learnt in class and through research papers.
Lastly, my confidence level and domain knowledge has been enhanced by the multiple certifications that we are encouraged to attain. For instance, certification exams are part of the curriculum for certain modules. Incorporating these certifications into the modules has helped me absorb the relevance and application of what we learn in class through real-world projects.
Complete this sentence: Five years from now, I…
Hope to gain a broader perspective on all things in life.
Be prepared for the future as disruptive computing and information technologies permeate our work and lives. Accept your SMU offer today! Acceptance closes 24 May 2022.
*SMU has resumed in-person global exposure experiences since January 2022.