SMU’s Computing School Heralds a Fresh Chapter with New Name

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The Singapore Management University (SMU) announced that its School of Information Systems (SIS) has been renamed School of Computing and Information Systems (SCIS) to project the expanded aspirations and role of the School beyond Information Systems to include computing which encompasses Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Software Engineering.

The new name, which came into effect on 1 January 2021, was unveiled today at a ceremony attended by SMU’s Board of Trustees, senior management, SCIS Board of Advisors, faculty, staff, students as well as industry partners.

Explaining the rationale for the School’s renaming, Professor Pang Hwee Hwa, Dean of School of Computing and Information Systems, said “The change of the School’s name is timely and necessary. Over the last few years, in response to changes in technologies, nature of jobs, and market demands, we have been refreshing and augmenting our undergraduate and postgraduate education programs to go beyond Information Systems, particularly in the science of computing, hard-core programming, and technology development.”

“To contribute to SMU Vision 2025’s strategic priority of Digital Transformation, the School has identified 9 technology areas in which to go more deeply, the vast majority of which are in the Computer Science field. In addition, two-thirds of our faculty are computer scientists, and the School has developed a research profile with a strong emphasis on Computer Science. SMU is also moving to formalize Computer Science as a faculty discipline under the School, in addition to the existing Information Systems discipline,” Professor Pang Hwee Hwa added.

“Hence, the new name reflects our inherent strengths as well as our direction of growth. It will place the School on an even stronger footing to attract prospective students, faculty and research funding.”

The renaming of the School is in line with SMU Vision 2025’s three Strategic Priorities – Digital Transformation, Sustainable Living, and Growth in Asia – which serve as cross-disciplinary focal areas that cut across the schools at SMU and focus the University’s efforts on areas of particular economic and social relevance to Singapore and the region.

Digital Transformation involves spearheading cutting-edge ideas to digitally transform the private and public sectors and develop robust insights into the impact of digitalization on customer and citizen experience. SCIS will contribute to this strategic priority through three School strategies.

Focus on intelligent collaborative systems

The main enablers of digital transformation are commonly identified as solutions involving technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, automation. For many jobs and tasks, the future lies in humans and machines working in partnership. Hence, intelligent collaborative systems will be essential. Such systems require three clusters of capabilities, namely, intelligence, collaboration and systems.

Intelligence will derive from Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, which cover data management and analytics, planning and optimization, as well as machine learning and intelligence.

The second cluster centers on human-machine collaboration, which entails sensing and multimedia processing, as well as human-machine interaction designs.

Expertise in building computing systems is the third cluster. It includes software engineering to create correct and scalable systems, cybersecurity to safeguard privacy and security, and managing information systems.

Going forward, SCIS will focus its faculty hiring to enhance research capabilities in the high-growth fields of Computer Science like Data Management & Analytics, Intelligent Systems & Optimization, Machine Learning & Intelligence, Pervasive Sensing & Systems, Multimedia, Human-Computer Interaction, Software Engineering, and Cybersecurity.

Cutting-edge research that emphasizes academic scholarship alongside practice scholarship

Digital transformation happens only when computing technology is put into practical application; this involves practice scholarship. The second School strategy is to cultivate the twin pillar of academic scholarship in computing technology, and practice scholarship in solution development. The application domains that SCIS is strong at include Urban Systems & Operations (such as maritime traffic management and crowd management), Active Citizenry & Communities (such as understanding job and skills requirements), and Safety & Security (such as police patrol and ambulance placement).

A transformative education in computing technology and solution development

Through its comprehensive portfolio of degree programs, SCIS aims to produce graduates who are not only trained in computing technology but also practical solution development. In recent years, the School has evolved its education programs by launching interdisciplinary programs that combine computing with disciplines in other SMU schools,  creating new programmes that train students in deep technical skills, modernizing the Digital Transformation major in BSc (Information Systems) degree to equip students with the business and technology skills to create value for businesses and society by applying emerging technologies to develop end-to-end IT solutions, and introducing the Ph.D. in Computer Science program alongside the Ph.D. in Information Systems program, and the Doctor of Engineering program to cultivate practice scholarship.

SCIS, along with the other SMU schools, will continue to create more pathways for its students to supplement depth in computing with breadth in business and social science disciplines, such as the second major in Digital Business that will commence in August 2021. There are also plans for students from other schools at SMU to acquire computing skills that are essential for their professions.