Tan Jing Long (MS '20)

7 Nov, 2022

KAUST graduates become entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists, academics, and other creative professions. For Tan Jing Long, a masters degree from KAUST would help him gain experience for a career as a secondary school teacher in Singapore.

“I started the master’s program with the intention of understanding Artificial Intelligence,” said Tan. “I wasn’t looking to develop a niche as much as I was looking for courses offered by the world experts on subject matter that I found academically interesting. I also wanted to gain applied knowledge that could bring back to the classroom.”

And he learned from the best. During his time at KAUST, Tan took courses including Computer Vision taught by Professor Bernard Ghanem, Numerical Linear Algebra taught by Professor Matteo Parsani, and Monte Carlo Algorithms taught by Professor Ajay Jasra.

But it wasn’t all about the academics for Tan.

“One of the most challenging yet impactful activities that I was involved in was leading the student chapter of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics as we were recovering from the pandemic,” said Tan. “Through that position, I gained widely applicable skills, such as virtual event organizing.”

Tan was also a member of the inaugural Community Kitchen Management Team where he would organize meals between students from different nationalities, sharing cultures and the appreciation of good food.

Towards the end of his degree, Tan shuttled back and forth between Singapore and Saudi Arabia as border restriction waxed and waned throughout the first year of the pandemic.

“I didn’t realize how short-lived my time in Saudi would be, and I regret not traveling the country more,” said Tan. “Soon, I hope to return to visit KAUST and see how much my peers have grown.”

After graduation in December of 2020, Tan began his teacher training with the Ministry of Education in Singapore. He received his postgraduate diploma of education from the National Institute of Education, where his education and leadership experience at KAUST was instrumental in the establishing of the AI in Education Chapter there.

“Teaching is very fulfilling, but does not scale well,” said Tan. “Now, with exposure to the AI for education sector, I would like to explore how AI may improve the way we teach students. For example, if we could use a diagnostic tool to model students’ conceptual understanding of a topic, teachers would be able to provide more targeted and personalized feedback.”

Tan sees a symbiotic relationship between AI models and teachers’ ethnographic knowledge of their students’ understanding.

“I could even see KAUST being a nexus of collaboration,” said Tan. “Working in conjunction with KAUST faculty and The KAUST School could be a future possibility.”

Tan’s goals keep him connected to the KAUST community, and he has recently stepped up to lead the Southeast Asia and Oceana KAUST Alumni Chapter.

“I am ready to stand at the intersection of education and AI, and I know KAUST is a good place to find the right people to help me on that path,” he said. “Even after graduation, this community will always provide some of the best opportunities, and I am excited to grow our alumni network from my region and home country.” 


Tan Jing Long (MS '20) by Melissa Pappas

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