Prof Andrew Nee was conferred the Emeritus Professorship by Provost Prof Ho Teck Hua on 6 July 2018. The award of Emeritus Professorship is conferred to full professors on retirement in recognition of their stellar and sustained contributions in distinguished scholarship and service to the University and community.
Prof Phan-Thien Nhan, Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, read Prof Nee’s citation and thanked him for many years of dedicated service in the department, in the presence of the Provost, Dean and Deanery, Heads of Departments, and many colleagues from the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
After the conferment ceremony, Prof Andrew Nee thanked many of his colleagues who have helped him in achieving this honour, in particular colleagues in the Manufacturing Engineering Division such as Assoc Prof S K Ong, Assoc Prof Senthil Kumar, Prof Jerry Fuh and Assoc Prof Zhang Yunfeng. He said they have been working together for many years and have contributed much to the manufacturing literature. He also thanked Mr K Sivalingam and Mr B K Low, two non-academic staff who helped him in the earlier days in running the Metrology Laboratory and the Dynamics Laboratory when he first joined the University.
On a lighter note, Prof Nee pointed out that the TV display emulated chalk writing on a blackboard, and mentioned that he used white chalks for many years and supplied himself with colourful chalks in his early days of teaching.
In his concluding note, Prof Nee said, officially he has retired, but unofficially, he has not. He will continue to teach some modules, supervise research, and if the young faculty members need any help, he would be happy to provide advice and be their mentor.
Citation for Emeritus Professor Andrew Y C Nee
Prof Andrew Nee has contributed much to the field of manufacturing engineering and university administration. The following is some of Prof Nee’s contributions throughout his career.
Manufacturing engineering research
Prof Nee was active in the Singapore Chapter of the US Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and became the chairman of the chapter in 1982. During those years, he organized monthly technical talks and short courses to the growing manufacturing industry in Singapore. In the same year, he received the SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, and was the first recipient outside USA. In the subsequent years, he contributed his service to the Paris-based International Academy for Production Research (CIRP), serving in various capacities in the Scientific and Technical Committees of CIRP, Council and as its President in 2012, being the first ethnic Chinese to become President in 52 years of CIRP history. He received his higher doctoral degree DEng, Doctor of Engineering from his alma mater UMIST in 2002 with outstanding achievements in manufacturing engineering. Prof Nee was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Springer’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology journal in 2014. SME presented its Gold Medal to Prof Nee in 2014 for his life-time achievement in manufacturing engineering.
Promotion of precision engineering in Singapore
Prof Nee’s relentless effort in promoting research and development of precision engineering saw the award of three major research grants from the then National Science and Technology Board (NSTB). One of the grants investigated the application of tools and dies in the manufacturing industry together with Prof VC Venkatesh. The second grant addressed the development of a knowledge-based tooling design system for metal stamping products together with Dr B T Cheok. The results were well received by the precision engineering industry and the team was awarded the National Technology Award in 2002 by then Chairman Mr Philip Yeo of A*STAR. The third grant explored the use of computer tools in automating the design of plastic inject molds with Assoc Prof Lee Kim Seng and colleagues. A NUS spin-off company Manusoft Technologies was formed in 1997. The product IMOLD for intelligent mold design has licensed over 2000 copies worldwide and remains as one of the most popular mold design software systems.
Service to the science and technical education and developments in Singapore
Prof Nee served as a member of the Governing Board of Nanyang Polytechnic from 1993 to 1999 and Council Member of Ngee Ann Polytechnic from 2002 to 2008. He provided advice to the growth of technical education to the two polytechnics. He also served as Council Member of the Institution of Engineers Singapore from 1985 to 1988, Board Member of the Singapore Science Center from 1986 to 1998, Board Member of the Singapore Professional Engineers’ Board from 1992 to 1996, Board Member of INDECO from 1992 to 1994, Management Board Member of the Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) from 2002-2004, NSTB Deputy Executive Director of the Science and Engineering Research Council from 2001 to 2002, overseeing 8 SERC research institutes. Currently, he is serving as the Treasurer and an Executive Committee Member of the Academy of Engineering Singapore since its inception in 2013. Prof Nee received the National Day Award – Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2007.
Exploring new field in augmented reality and its applications
Since 2003, together with Assoc Prof S K Ong, a research group was set up to study the emerging technology of augmented reality (AR). They made pioneering effort in using AR to address manufacturing and assistive technology applications, resulting in several patents and numerous publications and enquiries from the industry and academia. They garnered several awards, including the most recent award of highly cited paper in Springer’s Advances in Manufacturing in June 2018; champion of the HILTI International IT Competition 2018 – Augmented Reality and Internet of Things in the Construction Industry in March 2018; Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Welfare Foundation Research Award in 2010; Samsung DigitAll HOPE Award in 2005.
Contribution to manufacturing research literature
Prof Nee published 18 authored and edited books, 25 book chapters and over 600 international refereed journal and conference papers, with GS citation of 12,500 and H-Index of 59. Some of the notable international awards including: IEEE Kayamori Best Paper Award (1999), International Journal of Production Research Norman A. Dudley Award (2003), UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers Joseph Whitworth Prize (2009). He was selected as one of Asia’s top 100 scientists by the Asian Scientist Magazine in February 2016, and one of 14 Inspiring Innovators from Asia in October 2016. He completed the supervision of 49 PhD and 45 MEng.
Service contributions to NUS administration
Prof Nee has served in various capacities in NUS administration. A summary is as follows. Vice-Dean (1989-1995), Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering (1993-1996), Dean (1995-1998). During those periods, he helped to transform the Faculty to a leading research intensive institution. He also served as Dean in the Office of Admission (1999-2000), Director of the Office of Quality Management (1998-2000), CEO of the Design Technology Institute (DTI), a joint institute with TU Eindhoven (2003-2004), Co-Director of the Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA) (2002-2005), Director of Research, Office of Research, and Director of Research Administration DPRT Office, (2005-2011). Prof Nee received the Engineering Research Leadership Award by the Faculty of Engineering in 2012.