It has been 35 long years since they graduated from the then University of Singapore. It was also timely that the cohorts of the Engineering Class of 1977 met on 30th November 2012 at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House. These were the cohorts who were among the last to use the Engineering Campus at the old Prince Edward Road location.
About 90 of the cohorts, 5 lecturers, and a former admin staff (nonagenarian Mr Victor R Grosse) graced the occasion. One of the former lecturers, Dr. David Haines remarked, “I enjoyed the evening seeing so many faces from the dim and distant past!”
The organising committee was hard at work since August 2012. They meticulously renewed the contact list and tirelessly made contact with long lost cohorts. This generated a great deal of excitement and many wanted to come. Some were hampered by other commitments and the issue of distance. Regrets, well wishes and “wish we were there” greetings came from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Canada, the US and Dubai.
However, some from far-away lands made the effort to attend. Their efforts were recognised in the “homing pigeon” contest. These included cohorts from Malaysia, Guangzhou (China), Palo Alto (USA), San Jose (USA) and Chestnut (USA); and the group appreciated their effort in specifically coming back for the reunion dinner with special gifts (NUS ties and scarves) from the NUS Development Office.
There was a fun time of games, special prizes, some light hearted hazing, and sharing of old photographs. These fit in well with reminiscence of how they survived the days of chalkboards, naturally ventilated lecture halls, laboratory tables so worn out that surfaces were starting to hollow out. They also personally paid their appreciation to the lecturers who nurtured them in the early years and for helping them become what they are today.
It was not only a time to reflect on the past but to look to the future and how one can be useful to contribute to this future vision. A fund-raising effort was initiated to support the Engineering Bursary Fund for needy students. The cohorts were challenged to become the life-giving Sea of Galilee where there is inflow and outflow of water; against becoming the non life-giving Dead Sea where there is inflow but no outflow of water. A strong university is made up of the strong academic programmes and strong faculty members. Above all, a strong university is also made up of a strong alumnus supporting the needs of their alma mater.
The penultimate programme was the 60th birthday celebration and cake cutting for many of the group born in the year of the Dragon. The participants reluctantly ended the night with the rendition of their own version of Auld Lang Syne. They bade farewell with the solemn promise to meet again in five years’ time, not for the buffet and wine only, but also food for the soul and friendships and ties as alumni of this great university.
Article submitted by Mr Michael Tai and Mr Peter Yap from the Engineering Class of ’77 Organising Committee.