SUTD students, he said, are well placed to help Singapore deal with challenges such as climate change, growing the economy and building an inclusive society.
Speaking at the university's 10th anniversary gala dinner yesterday at the Shangri-La Hotel, he pointed to its unique offering of training students in systems thinking and problem solving, as well as integrating the sciences and the humanities.
He said: "Your motto is to make A Better World by Design. So I would like to challenge you to make Singapore a better nation by design. Many significant changes are coming our way. How do we turn these changes into opportunities?"
Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, recounted how SUTD was established as Singapore's fourth public university a decade ago - at a time when there was greater demand for university graduates and the economy was advancing.
Young people also had greater aspirations to attain a degree and build better careers, he noted.
Education has been a major social leveller for Singaporeans, and the country has made rapid progress in this area over a short span of a few decades, the minister said.
He cited a report released on Tuesday by the Finance Ministry which showed that "each generation of Singaporeans is more educated, earns more and is better off than the generation before them".
Mr Heng also noted that Singapore achieved top spot in the World Bank Human Capital Index by maximising the value of its spending and making every dollar count.
"As we invested more in education and expanded the university sector, we added diversity to our offerings - to provide more pathways for our students, to better cater to their strengths and passions."
SUTD's curriculum infuses design into all courses, with specialisations in four areas: architecture and sustainable design, engineering product development, engineering systems and design, and information systems technology and design.
Mr Heng said this ability to blend technological advancement and design has made SUTD graduates highly sought after by employers today.
He also held up the university's approach of working together with its industry partners to create opportunities for its students.
The minister said SUTD now has more than 800 industry partnerships, which he noted is more than double its pioneer batch.
Mr Heng, who was the guest of honour at the university's first graduation ceremony in 2015, had given the inaugural batch of graduates three mottos: to dream big, to dare to overcome challenges and to define themselves by not solely their achievements but also by their character and what is "on the inside".
Yesterday, he said he hoped SUTD would continue to produce graduates who "dream, dare and define".
He also encouraged them to take part in the Government's latest citizen engagement exercise, Singapore Together, to improve the quality of life here.
"There will be many more partnership opportunities under the Singapore Together movement for us to work together on issues our people care about, such as improving environmental sustainability, enabling Singaporeans to seize the opportunities that technology can bring and fostering a caring and inclusive society," he said.]]>