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Sunday 4 September 2005


Professor Shih Choon Fong

Public Orator, Professor Sir David Wallace presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Sunday 4 September 2005 in Singapore

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Following study for the Professional Diploma in Engineering at Singapore Polytechnic, Shih Choon Fong gained his Master’s degree and his PhD in Applied Science at Harvard University. These were the beginnings of an exceptional career of scientific distinction in both universities and industry, and of educational leadership.

After a year as a Research Fellow at Harvard, in 1974 Professor Shih was appointed leader of the Fracture Research Group in the Corporate R&D Laboratory of General Electric in New York. In the 1980’s he became increasingly involved with Brown University in Rhode Island, and following his appointment there rapidly rose to full Professor.

In 1996, he returned to Singapore, as the founding Director of the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering. Only a year later he was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor, National University of Singapore, and in 2000 he became its Vice-Chancellor and President, a position he holds today as it celebrates its centenary.

His achievements in this career are remarkable. He has some 200 publications in leading academic journals. In a list compiled by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), he is one of the 250 highly cited researchers in the world, in the field of engineering. His scientific contributions in nonlinear fracture mechanics and in computational methods for fracture analyses underpin methods now widely used to assess the structural integrity of nuclear reactors. His expertise is widely valued: he has been a consultant in the United States for example, to the National Aeronautics Space Administration, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Army Materials and Mechanics Laboratory and in Canada to Ontario Hydro.

As President of NUS, he has articulated the vision of NUS as a global university, and pursued that vision with vigour and success. The University is in the top 20 of the world rankings compiled by the Times Higher Education Supplement in the UK, and in the top 10 for Engineering and IT. Professor Shih himself holds key positions in global university alliances, including Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), of which he is Chairman. A recent strategic initiative of APRU is the APRU World Institute, of which he is the pro-tem Governing Board’s Chairman.

In addition to his leadership of NUS, he makes significant wider contributions to the economic and social well-being of Singapore. He was Chairman of the Committee on University Admission System which recommended significant changes to the admission criteria for the universities that were accepted by the Singapore Government in 1999. He is Founding President of the Material Research Society, Chairman of the Singapore-MIT Alliance Governing Board, and an Executive Committee member of the Economic Development Board. He has served on the Economic Review Committee. Prof Shih is also a Board member of Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Biomedical Research Council, the Science and Engineering Research Council, the Policy Studies Institute of the Singapore International Foundation, and the Chinese Heritage Centre.

In this remarkable career, he has gained many honours, including a Best Paper Award in the Journal of Engineering Materials and Technology, and the George Rankin Irwin Medal and the Swedlow Award of the American Society for Testing and Materials. His international distinction was recognised by election last year as Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Engineering.

It is a great privilege for me, as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Senior Vice-President of the Royal Society, and as a Vice-Chancellor at a University which also values highly its Engineering and links with industry, to be able to make this presentation to a scientific and educational leader of such distinction.

Therefore, by the powers vested in me as Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University, and by the authority of Senate and Council, I have the honour to admit you, Professor Shih Choon Fong, to the Degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.


Loughborough University - Degree Speeches 2005, September 2005
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