Tuesday, 19 August 2014

2014 Special Awards Ceremony

Besides Joel Tan, Maurice Mok, Phyllis Poh, Surya, Stanley, Byorn and Lim Jeck from NUS High who won The Lee Kuan Yew Award for Math & Science, there is another Year 1 NUS High student, Harish Kumaar, who won The Prime Minister's Book Prize. Full lists of 2014 Special Awards winners are found here. Congratulations to all the prize recipients!

Lim Jeck receiving his award from Ms Indranee Rajah
Lim Jeck, Byorn Tan, Ms Dass, Stanley Quek
The prize. $500 Times bookstore voucher for Pre-U section winners. The secondary section winners receive $400 Times bookstore voucher.

CWMI 2014 Singapore Team Results

From left: Clarence, Bryan, Joel, Matthew, Zhaoyu, Eugene, Isaac, Glen 
Congratulations to the Singapore Team for winning 6 Gold 1 Silver 1 Bronze.

Gold - Glen Lim, RI
Gold - Eugene Lee, RI
Gold - Clarence Chew, NUSH
Gold - Ma Zhaoyu, RI
Gold - Matthew Fan, NUSH
Gold - Bryan Wang, HCI
Silver - Joel Tan, NUSH
Bronze - Isaac Lee, RI

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

CGMO 2014 Photos and Singapore Team Results

Updated on 14/8:
CGMO Singapore Team Results
wow ... notice Lim Li's medal glows :). from left: Ms Fan, Anqi, Lim Li, student helper, Surya, Cindy, Mr Wang
Silver (66) - Surya Mathialagan, NUS High
Silver (60) - Lim Li, NUS High
Silver (51) - Li Anqi, Raffles Girls' Sec
Bronze (27) - Cindy Wang Beini, Raffles Girls' Sec

Full Results


Spotted Lim Li in all the photos below :)
Source: official CGMO 2014 website

中山游 — 参观孙中山故居 Excursion to Sun Yat Sen Residence
一试 Day 1 competition
拼图比赛 Jigsaw puzzle competition
纸藤花制作比赛 Paper flowers making competition
健美操练习. Aerobic exercise, a CGMO fixture
Singapore Team
150 participants, 38 teams including Singapore, Russia, Korea, Philippines, Hong Kong and Macau

Monday, 11 August 2014

Koh Boon Hwee Couldn't Kill A Rabbit

I like this article.
1. Koh Boon Hwee is a familiar name, I have read much about him from the papers since my younger days. And he is a talented and unassuming man.
2. Who says one needs to be either a doctor or lawyer to succeed in life? Just look at Koh Boon Hwee.
3. Many people don't really know that they are destined for life in their early adulthood e.g. during their high school or undergraduate days. It is good to just follow their heart, to study what they have the most passion for. For scholarships, taking a bond-free one is preferable. Lim Min is currently on bond-free Nanyang Scholarship. I hope Lim Jeck can get a bond-free scholarship too, to pursue his undergraduate studies (likely, in Cambridge). In the future, if my kids do well in life, I would like them to contribute back to the society, just like what Koh Boon Hwee has been doing.
4. I really like what Koh Boon Hwee says, at the end of the article
-  “A lot of people in today’s world decide what they want to do based on what they think they are going to get compensated for. And some of them grow to love the job, which is fine. A lot of them don’t, and then they’re actually not very happy. I think that’s a tragedy. Life is too short for that sort of stuff.



That’s why he decided not to be a doctor and became a corporate head honcho instead
Straits Times Aug 10, 2014
By Wong Kim Hoh, Senior Writer

Over a two-hour chat with Koh Boon Hwee, one learns three key things about the corporate titan.

One, he does not like to give up on what he has started.
Two, he does not look back.
Three, he believes education is the key to changing one’s life.
These attributes have helped him navigate through life more than just niftily.
Just look at his curriculum vitae. A respected investor who co-founded private equity firm Credence Partners, the 63-year-old has chaired some of the country’s biggest and most successful organisations including SingTel, Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank.
He serves on the board of several public and private companies, both locally and in the United States and Hong Kong. He also chairs the board of trustees of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and is credited for overseeing its growth into an internationally recognised research university.
“I’m just lucky,” he says, trying to downplay his achievements. Several good mentors and some astute decisions at critical junctures, he suggests, are responsible for who, what and where he is.
Breaking out into a hearty laugh, he adds: “You know, being lucky is better than being smart.”
Perhaps so but Mr Koh – who has a first-class honours degree in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London and an MBA (Distinction) from Harvard Business School – also has one heck of a brain.
Almost sheepishly, the eldest of three children of a trader and a homemaker says: “Studies came very easily to me.” He breezed through his years at St Andrew’s and was Singapore’s top boy in the O-level and A-level examinations.
At St Andrew’s, he met Ms Lenn Mei Ling, a teacher who was to have a lasting influence on his life.
As one of the school’s brightest, he was sent to the pre-medicine stream for his A levels. A couple of months into his first year, he started having doubts if he was suited to be a doctor. “I hated the idea of gassing rabbits and guinea pigs; I just hated the idea of having to kill them,” he says. “So I thought to myself, if I have some difficulty with animals, I may have problems with humans.”
“Obviously, not because I’d have to gas them,” he adds with a chortle. “But if I was not successful in treating them, I might find that difficult to deal with.”
Engineering, he decided, was a good fallback except for one snag: mathematics – a requisite for engineering studies – was not part of the pre-med syllabus.
So he decided to do maths as a private candidate and approached Ms Lenn for help to catch up, even though she was not his teacher. It turned out that he did not need her help that much, but she became a respected mentor.
She died a few years later from leukaemia, in her early 30s.
“The problem with the world is that you have many people who profess to be a lot of things but don’t live according to what they profess to be. She was an exception,” he says. “The way she lived her life, the fortitude she showed, the faith that she had… I’ve not seen that in many people.”
Teachers like her were a reason why Mr Koh – who has sat on NTU’s board of trustees for more than 20 years – is such a strong champion of education. It is a social leveller and can help anyone make his way through the world as long as he is diligent.
Four years ago, he donated $2.5 million to NTU to help deserving students and honour teaching excellence. He has also given generously to his alma mater and other educational causes.
Earlier this year, Imperial College London conferred an honorary doctorate on him for his contributions to education in Singapore. “I believe the award is not because of my personal achievements, rather it is a reflection of the tremendous accomplishments of NTU – how it has gone from a teaching university in Singapore to being an internationally recognised research-intensive university in such a short time,” he says modestly.
It was shortly after sitting the A levels that he met another person who helped to shape his life. With nine months to kill before beginning his degree course in London, he found a job as a computer card puncher with consulting firm Arthur Young for $180 a month.
“But I found card punching very boring. After just two weeks, I was the department’s fastest and most accurate card puncher,” he recalls.
The precocious 17-year-old then approached the firm’s director William Schroeder one Friday evening and told him he wanted to be a programmer instead. “He asked me, ‘What do you know about programming?’ I said, ‘Nothing, but I can learn.’”
Mr Schroeder gave him three books on programming which he read from cover to cover over the weekend.
“On Monday morning, I went to Bill and told him I was ready to write programs,” recalls the skilled raconteur. His sceptical boss decided to test his claims and asked him to write a program calculating mortgage payments, and was stupefied when the young man did just that in a few hours.
“On the spot, he said, ‘Well, you are no longer in the card punching department, you are in the programming department and I’m doubling your pay.’”
Over the next couple of months, Mr Schroeder threw all sorts of programming challenges at the young man.
“One day, he asked me, ‘What would your parents say if you moved to Hong Kong to work for a few months?’”
It turned out that the programming tasks he had been doing were for Hong Kong’s first private housing project – the Mei Fu Sun Chuen – by oil giant Mobil. The 99-tower complex built between 1965 and 1978 was considered the largest private housing development in the world then, home to nearly 80,000 people.
The teenager was made leader of the project to handle computerised billing for the estate’s residents and put up in a suite at Hong Kong’s most expensive and exclusive hotel, The Peninsula.
“Bill introduced me to the head of Mobil who asked, ‘Are you sure this kid knows how to do anything?’ Bill’s response was, ‘I’m telling you, he’s the best.’ After that, I just couldn’t let the man down,” says Mr Koh, adding that Mr Schroeder taught him a lot about mentoring and spotting talent.
At Imperial, he did so well that he won a scholarship to complete his tertiary education. The British government also offered him a scholarship to do his PhD.
“My claim to fame was getting a computer to draw an ellipse with just the definition of the two focal points and the radius. In those days, everyone thought it was a big deal,” he says with a laugh.
But he had to return to Singapore for national service. And that was when his life took another turn.
While in the army, he developed an interest in the stock market. “I had no background in economics but every day, I’d read in the newspapers all these reports of stocks going up and down. Based on what I was reading, I put two and two together, the same thing as I’m doing now,” he says, adding that he and three of his army mates would pool their monthly allowance of $90 to play the market.
To better his understanding of business and economics, he decided he needed to learn how to read accounts. He took up a professional accounting course, completing four of five modules on his own. An engineering PhD no longer appealed to him; he applied for and got into Harvard to do his MBA instead.
Upon graduating, he was hired by Hewlett-Packard in 1977. He started as cash manager, got promoted to accounting manager, and after two years was posted to the multinational corporation’s cost accounting division in the United States. After seven years, he was made managing director of HP in Singapore.
Although sterling, his 14 years at the company had its fair share of bumps. In steering HP from a manufacturing company to a research and development one, he launched two projects, one to develop an oscilloscope and another a disk drive. Both projects bombed spectacularly and cost the company more than $1 million each.
But he did not get fired because his bosses encouraged risk-taking and did not punish failures. It is a philosophy he holds close to his heart, especially since he invests in many technological start-ups and steers NTU, which is very research-based.
By definition, he says, research is a little messy and results are not always immediately tangible.
“It’s not a good idea to pull a tree up by its roots every day to see if it’s healthy. I’d rather have my people try and fail because they would learn from it than not to try. If you don’t try, you are not pushing the envelope and will not make progress,” he says.
After HP, he continued making strides in the corporate world. He was executive chairman of the Wuthelam Group from 1991 to 2000, guided SingTel’s transformation from statutory board to telco giant in 1993, steered Singapore Airlines through a tumultuous time after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, and shepherded DBS through the financial crisis after the Lehman collapse in 2008.
Asked how he holds his own in the corporate jungle, Mr Koh, who is married to a former banker and has four children and one grandchild, says: “I don’t look back. Looking back takes a lot of negative energy. There are bound to be setbacks, ups and downs, betrayals. You just have to move along and move on.”
He believes he is lucky to love what he is doing.
“A lot of people in today’s world decide what they want to do based on what they think they are going to get compensated for. And some of them grow to love the job, which is fine. A lot of them don’t, and then they’re actually not very happy.
“I think that’s a tragedy. Life is too short for that sort of stuff.”
Background story
Mentor’s wise words
“One day, I jokingly asked Bill if I should give up the idea of university and continue working for Arthur Young. He looked at me and said: ‘You are fired. No matter how attractive it is, you have to go to college.’ He did not promise me a job after I completed my studies either. He said if I went back, people would say he favoured me. He told me it was important for me to see what was out there and learn to make it on my own. We became friends for life.” - MR KOH BOON HWEE on his mentor William Schroeder, who died a couple of years ago

Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses
“We shouldn’t get caught up with wanting to make sure that whatever we do in life, we want to have the approval and adulation of other people. There is always someone better. If you are famous, there is someone more famous, with a bigger Twitter following. If you are good-looking, there will be someone better-looking. You will never be happy. The important thing is to be happy with what you have. If you wake up every day measuring and comparing, life can’t be much fun. - MR KOH on contentment

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Off to Guangdong Province, China

The girls left for China Girls Math Olympiad 2014 this morning. They will be staying in Zhongshan High School's dormitory throughout the trip.

10 Aug, Sun - arrival
11 Aug, Mon - opening ceremony, group photo, campus tour
12-13 Aug, Tue & Wed - competition day 1 & 2
14 Aug, Thu - excursion and closing ceremony
15 Aug, Fri - return to Singapore

From left: Mr Wang Haibin, Surya, Cindy, Anqi, Lim Li, Ms Fan Wenying
The girls and their parents

Thursday, 31 July 2014

SMO 2014 Results (Top 30)

Click here for SMO 2014 Final Results from Singapore Mathematical Society website.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

IChO 2014 Singapore Team's Results

IChO 2014:
Gold & 1st - Sun Jiarui, Raffles Institution
Gold & 4th - Chen Xi, Raffles Institution
Silver - Brandon Tan Kai Jie, NUS High
Silver - Lawrence Wong Wen Jun, Raffles Institution


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Crescent Hall at NTU

Newest halls at NTU - Crescent Hall (4 blocks on the left) and Pioneer Hall (4 blocks on the right). 
The newer halls are comparatively pricier.
S - single occupancy, D - double occupancy, U - suite styled with attached bathroom & toilet, C - common bath & toilet by gender, A - air-conditioned.
Nanyang Scholarship offers accommodation allowance of up to S$2000 per academic year for those who reside in NTU hostels; Lim Min would have to top up a little.
Lim Min's side of the double occupancy room at Crescent Hall. She is sharing the air-conditioned room with Prasanna, fellow CN Yang Scholar. Crescent Hall Blks A, B and D are allocated to CN Yang Scholars, University Scholars Programme students and LKC Medical students.
Room re-arranged for a bigger common space. Lim Min's bed is on the right.
Function Hall with stage and can be used as badminton hall.
Food court which should be ready in October 2014.
Pathway to the Hall.
Green field
BBQ pits
Doors with specially designed ventilation on the right
Basketball court, Tennis court
Classy bath and toilet.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Selection and Training of SIMO Junior, Senior and National Teams


Singapore first participated in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) in 1988. To date, Singapore has participated in IMO 27 times and won 10 Gold medals, 41 Silver medals, 65 Bronze medals and 20 Honourable Mentions. (For details, check Singapore's Team Results, Individual Results and Hall of Fame)

The selection and training of the Singapore IMO team is the responsibility of Singapore International Mathematical Olympiad (SIMO) Committee. Members of the SIMO are the NUS Department of Mathematics professors, Ministry of Education (MOE) officials and high schools/Junior Colleges teachers (currently, we have teachers from RI, HCI and NUS High in SIMO). To prepare students for the IMO, SIMO runs 3 training teams: Junior Training Team, Senior Training Team and National Training Team. Only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are eligible to be selected into the training teams.

Junior Training Team

The SIMO Junior Training Team members are selected based on students' performance in the SMO (Junior) competition held in May/June each year. Most of the students selected are Sec 1 and 2 students. The SIMO Junior team takes in about 50 students each year. As each student can be trained in the Junior Training Team only once, and non-SC and non-PR students are not considered, I would reckon that those eligible and who are ranked among the top 100 or thereabout in SMO (Junior) should be able to make it into the team. The training is focussed mainly on basic Geometry concepts.  As more primary school students are taking part in SMO (Junior), we do have a few primary school students (typically P6 students, this year we even have a P5 student) who manage to get selected into the Junior Training Team every year. Training is conducted on Saturday mornings, from July to August/September. There are about 5-6 training sessions, and a test will be conducted on the last session; those who do well can join the Senior Training Team the following year.

Senior Training Team

Besides getting members from the Junior Training Team (as mentioned above, from the SIMO Junior team selection test), the SIMO Senior Training Team also selects its members from those who did well in the SMO (Senior) and SMO (Junior) competitions (for those who had attended Junior training team before). The SIMO Senior team takes in about 30 students each year. Preference is given to the younger students who have the potential to be selected into the National Training Team in Year 5 and below. For instance, if we have one Sec 3 and one Sec 4 student who just meet the COP for the Senior Training Team, the former and not the latter may be selected. Students may join the Senior Training Team more than once.  The training will commence in January the following year.

National Team Selection and Training

The main selection test for the SIMO National Training Team is the SMO (Open) Round 2 competition (note: Round 1 marks are not considered). Besides those who did well in SMO (Open) Round 1 and qualified to take Round 2 by their own merit, all students from the SIMO Senior Team will be invited to SMO (Open) Round 2. Strong candidates who have neither attended SIMO Senior Team training nor participated in SMO (Open) Round 1 may be recommended by their teachers to take SMO (Open) Round 2, which decides whether they can qualify for the SIMO National Team. Students who did not perform satisfactorily in SMO (Open) Round 2 but who display a lot of potential (e.g. represented Singapore in overseas competition and did extremely well, top in SMO competitions) may be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and still get selected into the SIMO National Team. Each year, less than 20 students will form the National Team. Training will start in October the same year and ends in April the following year. The two main trainers for the National Team are usually x-men (a term used to describe SIMO alumni, students who had gone IMO in the past) or y-men (a term used to describe SIMO alumni who had undergone National Team Training but had not gone IMO before) who had just completed their National Service obligation. These trainers will accompany the 6-delegate IMO team as Observers.

Currently, the 6-member IMO Team is selected through two National Team Selection Tests (NTST) organised by SIMO. In the first NTST held in April, students have to solve 4 problems in 4 hours. In the second NTST held in end April or early May, it is comparable in difficulty to the IMO and are fashioned after the IMO - the test consists of two 4.5-hr papers in 2 days, with 3 problems in each paper. The top 6 scorers will be announced 1 week after the second NTST, and they will represent Singapore in the same year's IMO. These students will undergo further rigorous daily training until they leave for the IMO in July.

Flowchart for Selection of Singapore IMO Team


SIMO also organises an all-expenses-paid one-week residential training camp during the June school holidays for the National Team as well as the Senior Team. Accommodation in hostel and all meals (up to 5 times a day) are provided. A typical day begins with lectures and problem solving sessions after breakfast. These will continue after lunch. In the evening campers take part in various sports activities. After dinner, there are also talks and other organised activities. The camp provides a chance for the various groups of trainees to get together. This is also a homecoming occasion for the x-men. Through various interactions, the trainees can learn from the x-men their past experience at the IMO, national service, application of university, scholarships and so on.

Reference: SIMO Home Page

Monday, 21 July 2014

IOI 2014, IBO 2014 and IPhO 2014 Singapore Teams' Results

IOI 2014:
Gold - Feng Jia Hai, RI
Gold - Ranald Lam, RI
Silver - Mark Theng, HCI

IBO 2014:
Gold & 2nd - Qu Xinyi, NUS High
Gold - Cleon Kho, HCI
Gold - Raphael Soh, RI
Silver - Timothy Sim, ACSI

IPhO 2014:
Gold & Top in Experiment - Francis Wang Fan, NUS High
Gold - Chan Jau Tong, RI
Gold - Lim Yong Hui, RI
Silver - Gideon Lee, NUS High
Silver - Jee Kai Yen, RI


Saturday, 12 July 2014

IMO 2014 Results

Singapore is ranked 8th, winning 3 Gold 2 Silver 1 Bronze :)

Full Results

Siah Yong, Sheldon, David, Yan Hao, Dylan, Yijia

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

CN Yang meets CN Yang

Professor Chen-Ning Yang (杨振宁) had a sharing session with NTU's CN Yang Scholars on 23 June 2014 evening. Professor Yang is currently 91 years old; he received the 1957 Nobel prize award in Physics.  
Weng Fan (翁帆), who was married to Prof Yang in 2004.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Japan Kyushu Trip

About S$250 worth of Japanese snacks which Lim Min had bought. Most are given away as gifts to friends and relatives.
At the airport

Soy Sauce Factory (Marue Shoyu)

Atomic Bomb Museum
Riding the bus directly into the ferry
Kumamoto Castle
Self-made noodles
Space and Science Centre

Colourful Ice Cream

Chinoike Jigoku Hot Spring

Organised by NTU CN Yang Scholars Programme office
Total about 40+ year 1 to year 4 CN Yang Scholars
Each student pays S$976 (NTU subsidizes about S$1500 per person)
15 - 21 June
Day 1: Soy Sauce Factory, Asahi Beer Factory, Newpie Mayonnaise Factory
Day 2: Kyushu University, Vinegar Factory, Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park
Day 3: Kumamoto Castle, Mount Aso Ropeway, Soba Making, Chinoike Jigoku Hot Spring
Day 4: Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Space and Science Museum, Genkai Energy Park
Day 5: Eco Town, Tea Cultural Ceremony at Kokura Castle, Nissan Car Factory, Canal City