After graduating from Chung Ling High School (1973) and Han Chiang High School (1975) in Penang, Dr Tan pursued his study at the University of Auckland, graduating with BE(Civil) in 1978, ME(Civil) in 1980 and PhD (Engineering) in 1983 . He is a member of the Institute of Engineers, Singapore and Professional Engineer, Singapore. Dr Tan joined Nanyang Technological Institute in 1984 as a Lecturer, and became Associate Professor in 1999. Dr Tan holds senior position in NTU. He is Director, NTU‐MPA Maritime Research Centre, an inter‐school research centre since its inception in 2001, Deputy Executive Director of NEWRI since 2010, Director‐NEWRItech in 2013.
Over the years, Dr Tan has established close academic and research links with universities in Vietnam, China, Australia, United States of America and United Kingdom. Dr Tan has also provided consultancy services to more than 60 companies in Singapore, in such areas as surge analysis, drainage and hydraulic design, physical and numerical modelling of hydraulic and coastal processes.