That life sciences have intrigued the imagination of nations worldwide is no longer a moot point. The concern nowadays is how to train enough life sciences professionals to fuel the revolution upon which the next quantum leap in human potential will depend. For Singapore, a country that has human potential as its only real resource, the race to be at the cutting edge of this revolution takes on a special urgency. Temasek Polytechnic recognizes this and the unique manner in which it can contribute to the growth of the life sciences in Singapore. The enrolment for the year 2002 cohort into life sciences courses stands at 483 students.

Temasek Polytechnic offers the following diplomas related to the life sciences:

  • Diploma in Applied Food Science and Nutrition

  • Diploma in Biomedical Science

  • Diploma in Biotechnology

  • Diploma in Chemical Engineering

More information may be accessed through the Web site of the Temasek Applied Science School.

These courses have garnered good feedback from its industrial partners as well as other institutes of higher learning. Graduates from these courses also found jobs rather easily. The reasons for the positive feedback and ready acceptance of our graduates could be attributed to a number of factors that include:

  • Connection with industry through the Student Internship Programme

  • Independent learning through the use of Problem-based Learning

  • Personal confidence through the Communication Skills subjects

The Student Internship Programme, which all students have to go through before they graduate, is an excellent way of initiating them to the demands and expectations of the working world. Armed with content knowledge gleaned from books and lessons, students acquire the experience of actually applying what they have learned to the dynamic needs of the workplace in a programme that can last up to 20 weeks. Students are expected to think on their feet and adapt to real-life situations. More importantly, students are also introduced to the practices, protocols, and ethos of their chosen professions. At the personal level, they can begin to build a network of professional contacts, the importance of which--particularly for new entrants to the profession--cannot be underemphasized.. Polytechnic graduates who are already engaged in research have done well and have found their niche in the various research institutions, hospitals, and research laboratories. Their achievements and research abilities give their employers the confidence to accept polytechnic graduates into their organizations. Indeed, responses from employers on the attitude and capabilities of polytechnic graduates have been positive.

The information explosion from which no one in education could escape necessitates a whole new paradigm through which learning and teaching take place. Students have to develop the skills of assessing information from a variety of sources anytime and anywhere, and deciding which sources of information are more useful than others. Now more than ever, learning has become a life-long process. It is the recognition of this need that saw the introduction of Problem-based Learning into the curriculum at Temasek Polytechnic. Introduced in 1999, Problem-based Learning facilitates the training of important skills such as problem solving and teamwork, as well as self-directed learning skills. Through the use of problems, students appreciate the value of their knowledge even more when it is applied in the search for a solution. Undoubtedly, the Problem-based Learning approach fulfills the polytechnic's mission of aiming "to prepare school leavers and working adults for a future of dynamic change, with relevant knowledge, life-long skills, character, and a thirst for continuous improvement."

Meeting the needs of industry has been one of the key concerns of Temasek Polytechnic. To ensure that it does, Temasek Polytechnic makes use of a network of advisory panels that comprise captains of industry as well as technical experts. Their inputs have helped the polytechnic to keep its courses current and relevant and have provided strategic guidance for long-term planning and development. Lecturers also constantly keep abreast of developments in the industry and profession so that students are also exposed to the latest innovations. The various well-equipped facilities within the Temasek Applied Science School--such as the Plant Tissue Culture Lab, Medical Microbiology Lab, Medical Technology Labs, Hybridoma Lab, Food Testing Lab, Analytical Chemistry Lab, Molecular Biology Lab, Hydroponic Research Greenhouse and Aquaculture Workstation--are also important elements in the thrust to orientate students as much as possible to the environment and rigours of real-life research work.

Without the confidence and skills to express oneself, ideas, no matter how important these are, remain in one's head. The training of Temasek Polytechnic students in Communication Skills has consequently served them well. Students learn to express themselves clearly and effectively whether through the written or oral medium. Very often, the ability of our students to convey their message effectively to an audience helps to distinguish our students. Students are also trained in job search and job interview strategies and techniques, which give them a head start in the world of work.

Holistically, all factors discussed here are parts of the careful and painstaking nurturing of the life sciences professionals here at Temasek Polytechnic. It is a laborious process in which the various elements interact to create an environment that is conducive for developing talents in life sciences.