Seeram Ramakrishna
Professor, FREng, Chair of Circular Economy Taskforce, NUS

More than 20,000 higher education institutions worldwide have a range of goals. They could be condensed into a) imparting practical knowledge and skills for the students’ career preparation and b) holistic development of students with cultivation of critical thinking, innovation led creativity, passion for lifelong learning, appreciation of professional ethics, and maturation of social and cultural sensibilities. In recent decades, several universities are also active in a) knowledge generation, b) innovation and entrepreneurship, and c) developing sustainability solutions to the respective communities and nations. Leveraging the availability of global databases in recent years, a few ranking agencies sprung up in UK, China and USA to publish international league tables of universities by comparing and benchmarking in some of the aforementioned activities.

Even more important trends include accelerated pace of innovation and technology adoption worldwide, industry 4.0 digital technologies transforming the industries, services and jobs, heightened competition among the countries, flatted economic growths and rising unemployment, and trade wars. Moreover, the ubiquitous digital technologies and changing social fabric have impacted the mindsets of next generations. Nations, companies and professional associations are concerned about the growing gap between the job requirements and skills, attitudes, and capabilities of fresh graduates. This talk addresses a range of central questions which include a) what are the future jobs in the context of Industry 4.0 (robots, automation, IoT, big data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, AI, cloud computing, 3D printing, nanotechnology, so on) powered economic growth?, b) what are the future jobs in the context of circular economy and zero waste vision led sustainable product design, materials selection, manufacturing, and use, and services economy?, c) what is to be done for new jobs creation?, d) what universities need to do to nurture future ready graduates and human capital capacity building?, e) how to facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship in a post-globalized competitive world?, f) how the workplaces are changing?, g) how to provide unique competitive advantages to the respective nation, and h) what sustainable solutions are needed to the country and region specific challenges?. This helps the universities to re-look at their strategies, organizational structure, education models, curriculum and pedagogies, networks, partnership models with diverse stakeholders, resourcing priorities, hiring of appropriately experienced faculty members and support staff, scientific research areas, and the ways research, innovation and entrepreneurship are carried out. The above mentioned are illustrated with examples drawn from Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, Middle East & Central Asia, and USA.

Professor Seeram Ramakrishna, FREng is the Chair of Circular Economy at the National University of Singapore (NUS), which is ranked among the top 25 universities in the world. During three decades of academic experience, he held several leadership roles which include University Vice-President (Research Strategy); Dean, Vice-Dean, and Sub-Dean of NUS Faculty of Engineering; Director of NUS Enterprise; Director of NUS Industry Liaison Office; Founding Director of NUSBioengineering; Founding Director of NUS Nanoscience & Nanotechnology Initiative, NUSNNI; and Founding Chairman of Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, SERIS. He founded the Global Engineering Deans Council ( while serving as the Vice-President of International Federation of Engineering Educator Societies (IFEES). He authored the book The Changing Face of Innovation. His achievements and contributions include establishing impactful partnerships with world leading universities in USA, UK, Switzerland, Germany, France, India and China; future ready curriculum; expansion of enrolments; rising the global ranking; and sharing of best practices in building a world class university. He has been advising international organizations (World Bank, ADB, OECD, WEF, RAE, QS, IREG); Governments (Singapore, India, China, KSA, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Argentina, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Myanmar); corporations (Clarivate Analytics; BASF, Lloyds Register Foundation), and universities (University of Nottingham; Australian National University; University of Mauritius; Trinity College, Dublin; University of Alborg; Central University of Technology and University of Johannesburg, South Africa; University of Djibouti; IITs, Galgotia University, Ashoka University Group, VIT universities Group, UTM, University Technology Bolivar, so on) around the world.

He served on boards of several national organizations, policy institutes, and tertiary education institutions which include DSO National Labs, Ministry of defense; Energy Studies Institute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MFA & Ministry of Trade & Industry, MTI; Global Asia Institute, NUS; Temasek Polytechnic, Ministry of Education, MOE; Institution of Engineers Singapore, IES; Defense Science & Technology Agency (DSTA), Ministry of Defense; Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), Ministry of Law.

He served in the national committees such as University Autonomy, Governance and Funding, Ministry of Education; Clean Energy and Clean Water, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources; Future Living, Ministry of National Development; Engineering for the Future Generations, Economic Development Board; and Research, Innovation and Enterprise, RIE2020 Advanced Manufacturing, ASTAR, MTI. He is a member of Singapore Standards Committee on Smart

Manufacturing. He advises Singapore’s National Environmental Agency on Circular Economy and Industry 4.0. He is a member of World Economic Forum’s Committee on Future of Production-Sustainability. He received PhD in Materials Science & Engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK; The General Management Training from Harvard University, USA. He mentored over 50 PhD students, and over 100 post-doctoral research fellows. He is a Highly Cited Researcher (Clarivate Analytics). Thomson Reuters identified him among the World’s most influential scientific minds. A European study ( placed him among the only 2,610 researchers in the world with H-index above 100 in the history of science and technology. He co-authored ~ 1,000 SCI indexed international journal papers which received over 83,000 citations and 137 H-index.

He is an elected International Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering, UK; Academy of Engineering, Singapore; National Academy of Engineering, India; ASEAN Academy of Engineering & Technology; ISTE, India; Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES); American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS); ASM International; American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME); American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering (AIMBE); IMechE and IoM3, UK; International Union of Biomaterials Science & Engineering (FBSE). He is the Editor-in-Chief of Springer NATURE journal Materials Circular Economy. He is an Editor of Elsevier Journal Current Opinion in Biomedical Engineering, and an Editorial Board Member of NATURE Scientific Reports. He received numerous recognitions which include CUT Honorary Engineering Doctorate; APA Distinguished Researcher Award, IFEES President award- Global Visionary; GEDC Ambassador; ASEAN Outstanding Engineer Award; IES Prestigious Engineering Achievement Award; IITM Distinguished Alumni Award; NUS Outstanding Researcher Award; CPS Biomaterials Award; Cambridge Nehru Fellowship, and Singapore LKY Fellowship.