Ask a student: Why SMU School of Information Systems?

It’s not hard to grasp the intersection between business and information technology, in this era of Silicon Valley technopreneurs who’ve achieved celebrity status. The SMU School of Information Systems is all about the skills and knowledge required to leverage IT in business settings. Let our final-year student Ila Nitin Gokarn tell you why she left her home country of India to pursue this field of study at SMU.

By Ila Nitin Gokarn, SMU School of Information Systems

1. The Learning to Learn philosophy is what makes SIS so very different. I recently completed my Final Year Project (FYP), where our client, BP Singapore, had just one requirement for the e-learning system we were building for them – “Make it interactive, make it fun.” (We succeeded; my team won the Best FYP Award too.)


Almost every class in SIS is taught in a similar vein. We’re given the background of the problem, but the solution, its breadth and technical complexity are all up to us. Each challenge has depended on me and my team to decide how far to push ourselves in deriving the best solution, and then learning to implement it. With the guidance and mentorship of our professors, we learn to assess, think, and learn.

2. The SIS community is probably the most tight-knit and collaborative community in SMU. Our school culture encourages us to learn with and learn from each other. I remember the study sessions I had with a couple of classmates before the final exams of Architectural Analysis and Software Engineering: we taught each other and made sure we were all up to the mark, before moving on to the next concept.

SIS even maintains a portal, where the wisdom and notes from seniors on all the tough courses are passed down to every new cohort. Each semester’s cohort then contributes fresh inputs and insights.

3. I’ve received so much school support beyond the classroom. In one of my courses, Global Software Project Management, I wrote a report on how social media could supplement contemporary knowledge management systems. Almost a year later, Professor Ben Gan reached out to me and said I should submit that report for a conference at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Not only did my paper get selected at the conference, SIS also sponsored my trip to present my paper at CMU! It was truly one of the most magnificent opportunities I’ve experienced at SIS, along with my scholarships and internships with industry leaders like Cisco Systems and SAS Institute.

4. I find that labs like the Living Analytics Research Centre and the Standard Chartered iLab@SMU hold immense opportunities for undergraduates to explore research, innovation and entrepreneurship, and to work with some of the best mentors in Singapore. SIS also has a programme called Research Experience for Undergraduates, which I’ll be doing next semester on topics in text mining.

Meanwhile, some of my classmates on the have developed apps and started companies off them. This goes to show that your journey at SIS depends entirely on how you shape it.

5 Giving back to society is an integral part of SMU’s culture, and SIS has enabled me to give back to society in a most unique way. In the Business Intelligence and Analytics Special Interest Group (of which I am the president), we have recently started a collaboration with National University of Singapore and SAS Institute called “Analytics for Social Good”. Through this initiative, we provide pro-bono analytics consulting to different Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) and charities under the National Council of Social Service. While it is just one of the things we are doing as a CCA, in my opinion, it’s by far the most impactful.

Undergraduate applications are open — visit to learn how you can Transform into a Different U.