Sunday 4 September 2005
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
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
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.