28 June 2023

AUN ASEAN Experiential Learning Programme (AELP) Returned in Style with 40 ASEAN Students Exploring the Concept of ‘Smart Nation’ in Singapore

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

From 18-24 June 2023, 40 students from 22 universities across ASEAN gathered for the ASEAN Experiential Learning Programme (AELP) 2023 in Singapore. With Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) as the gracious hosts, students embarked on their journey through Singapore to explore and envision the concept of ‘Smart Nation’ under the theme of ‘Smart Nation: Transforming our Nation through Technology.’

Initiated by the AUN Student Affairs Network (AUN-SAN) in 2017, AELP brings together undergraduates from AUN Member Universities for a weeklong experiential learning programme, where students can engage in dialogues with experts, learn from experiential site visits, and formulate solutions to the rising issues of ASEAN region.

In AELP 2023, students rose to the challenges of modern societies such as urban density, waste management, energy consumption, environmental change, and digital transformation. Will ‘Smart Nation’ hold the solution to these challenges? Students searched for the answers through four main pillars:

  • Township Planning: Tech-enabled sustainable town
  • Transport: Leveraging technology to enhance transport systems
  • Healthcare: Response to Covid and the future of healthcare
  • Digital-ready Society: Inclusion of citizenry in digital transformation.

To help students navigate through the jam-packed programme and consolidate the learnings from the visits, the programme also featured four major components: 

  1. Pre-activity Research: Students identify pertinent issues and existing initiatives in their assigned case studies and share them with their group mates.
  2. Experiential Visits: Students learn about innovative applications of each kind of solution in real-world scenarios and engage with experts in each subject matter. 
  3. Application Activities: Students revisit their case studies with each kind of solution they have experienced in the site visits and learned from the dialogue with experts.
  4. Final Presentation: In the culmination of their visits, students formulate their own solutions to the case studies, with the contextual nuances of their cases and the tradeoffs of each kind of solution in consideration.

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Now, let us provide you with a recap of where the students have visited in their quest to find solutions for our modern society!


Township Planning: HDB LIVINGSPACE


What does ‘smart town’ look like? To discover how technology can be incorporated into township planning, the students were brought to the HDB LIVINGSPACE, an exhibition by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) of Singapore. 

LIVINGSPACE curated the history and future of Singapore’s township planning and public housing, showcasing how HDB flats and towns have progressed hand in hand with the introduction of new technology. 

Now, HDB flats and towns have become ‘smarter’ and more sustainable with technology to aid HDB in keeping track of the estates’ condition and energy consumption. Technology also plays an important role in the designing of new HDB flats. Solar cells, playgrounds, gardens, and public infrastructure can now be placed more appropriately throughout the community as HDB gains information on the amount of sunlight, heat, wind flow, and area usage by people in the community, resulting in a town that is better-designed and more environmentally friendly.




Transport: Intelligent Transport Systems Centre (ITSC)

Once a city grows, transportation grows with it. The rapid growth in the urban population can put a strain on the transportation system, and it takes a comprehensive monitoring system to deal with the equally large and complex transportation network.

AELP was welcomed by the Intelligent Transportation System Centre to explore how various methods of data collection can be leveraged to oversee Singapore’s transportation system and ensure smooth and safe rides for all of its people. With real-time and dynamic coverage of traffic, ITSC can respond to accidents, emergencies, and maximise the network’s capacity promptly.


Transport: Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicle (CETRAN)


With more people in the city, the transportation of people and goods becomes an art and science in itself. At CETRAN, students got to hear from the experts how Singapore is gearing up to answer this challenge. 

From the redesigning of towns and public transportation systems to the development of autonomous vehicles, CETRAN introduced the students to every nook and cranny of various solutions that can be utilised to tackle the transportation challenges of modern cities. An introduction of autonomous vehicles might be useful in the face of labour shortage, but what does it take for an autonomous vehicle to take to the street? How much difference can we make to our commutes and environmental impact if we just replace the cars on the street with more autonomous ones? 

Students not only get to see the cutting-edge technology to be introduced but all the steps it takes to ensure the readiness and safety of the new technology and all the surrounding aspects in improving our commutes and transportation.


Healthcare: Dialogue about Smart Nation Planning for Healthcare with Eric Wong, MD, Group Chief Data & Strategy Officer, National Healthcare Group


As our society slowly but surely progresses into an ageing society, no challenge can be more concerning than the management of our healthcare systems. 

AELP is honoured by Dr. Eric Wong, Group Chief Data & Strategy Officer, National Healthcare Group, who provided the students with an informative dialogue session on what an ageing society would mean to the healthcare system, how the healthcare system should cope, and how data and technology could help us in designing a ‘smart system’ that can answer to the people’s demand better.

Dr. Eric stressed that ‘data’ and ‘technology’, by themselves, are not the silver bullet to the increasing demand on healthcare systems. To ensure the health and well-being of the population in the ageing future, the process should start even before they seek care from the hospitals. Data technology could come in handy for healthcare providers to answer this challenge, but a comprehensively designed system must be in place for the healthcare system to make the most of it.

At the end of the presentation, Dr. Eric engaged with the students in a lively Q&A session as well.




Healthcare: FullHealth


The covid-19 pandemic demanded us to rethink our access to healthcare systems, and with more people living in the city, access to healthcare systems can be vital to public health in the long run. 

Fullhealth is a social enterprise that wants to bring healthcare to people. During the covid-19 pandemic, many elderly and patients were left stranded from their health service as they were unable to make their trips to the hospital. Telemedicine might be the answer to this challenge.

On a trip to the town of Bukit Batok, the students met with a telemedicine booth that could provide retinal scans and process retinal images to detect eye diseases common among elderly patients. They also got to try and see, in an entertaining skid, what local healthcare providers could do in ensuring health and well-being for people in a community, even before they take a step into the hospital. This provides a real-world demonstration of how the healthcare process can begin before the hospital, as mentioned by Dr. Eric Wong.




Digital-Ready Society: Anatomy Lab, Nanyang Technological University, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine


For the society to fully thrive in the tech-enabled era, the future generation of its population must be prepared as well. This brought us to the last but not least pillar in the exploration of ‘Smart Nation’: Digital-Ready Society, where the students got to see how technology is making its way into the classroom.

At Nanyang Technological University, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine; ‘Anatomage’, a life-size ‘tablet’ that can portray the whole human body, is in place for the students to peruse. The tablet allows the students to study the 3D replication of human anatomy layer by layer, or multiple layers at once, from head to toe. The anatomy lab also features plastinated bodies, the cadavers that have been preserved through the plastination process. This allows the cadavers to be preserved with near-original properties without decaying or smelling as water and fat are replaced by plastics.


Digital-Ready Society: NUS Centre for Instructional Teaching & Technology Enhanced Learning Imaginarium


Technology has helped us learn many new things, from the unknown darkness of the universe to the measurement of untouchable substances. However, what a waste it would be if we could not use the technology that helps us learn many new things in creating new ways of learning too.

At the National University of Singapore Centre for Instructional Teaching & Technology Enhanced Learning Imaginarium, students explored how technology can introduce new experiences of learning. From Digital Scholarship Lab that provides access to NUS’ rich collection of data at a click away to an immersive VR/AR-enhanced Learning Imaginarium and 360 Imax Theatre, students reached back through time, travelled through distance, and learned new things in a new way as well.

To wrap up the visit, AELP was honoured by Shyam Narayanan, Senior Associate Director, Centre for Instructional Technology, National University of Singapore in a dialogue session on how NUS is preparing their students for the digital society. Apart from ample learning platforms and blended learning methods, NUS also has an internal structure that can facilitate digital readiness on both students’ side and the faculty’s side in place.












At the end of each visit, students got to spend time with their group to consolidate what they had learned each day and formulated their own solutions to the assigned case studies.

What have the students come up to answer the challenges they were assigned to? Stay tuned to our website and e-newsletter for a full surprise from the students of AELP 2023!