NUS with SPS

Today by far has to be my favourite day of the trip thus far. We were lucky enough to visit the NUS (National University of Singapore) science wing where we visited several labs, and met some important people.

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Our first stop was the SPS (Special Program in Science) headquarters. They had their own specially designated area for them to study and/or relax in, a library, conference room, and wet lab. I definitely would love it if the La Trobe Nanotechnology students had an area like this in our Melbourne campus. At SPS we met a group of five students, one of them being Kevin who will in fact be travelling to Melbourne soon to study at the Melbourne campus of La Trobe. They were our guides around NUS and also joined in all the activities in which we partook. They were an extremely kind group of people who I hope we stay in contact with.

The first lab in which we visited was extremely exciting as it contained a linear accelerator, which there aren’t too many of around the world. They would use the accelerator in order to accelerate protons into silicon in order to make channels and patterns. They could also accelerate the protons into certain cells to determine what they were composed of in an attempt to help with drug delivery systems. It was very rewarding to be allowed downstairs to get up close to the linear accelerator as not many people at the age of 19 get to do such a thing.

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We then had the chance to walk around the campus some more and look at some of the other labs they had such as their clean room. It was slightly difficult to peek into some of the labs however, as many of them had automatic doors. So then as soon as you go up to the window to peek in, the doors would start opening quickly and give you a freight. At least some of the students were amused by this.

Jenny from Quantum then met us for a quick seminar on what Quantum is, what they do and are trying to achieve. We were then shown around some of the labs where they are using cold atoms to create quantum entanglement. One of the two labs shown to us at Quantum was where they create chips that are used to catch atoms, the second lab being the one in which the chips were used to catch the atoms with the help of magnetic fields in order to cause quantum entanglement.

After a lunch break with the SPS students we were extremely lucky to be able to have a meeting with Andrew Wee Thye Shen who is the Vice President of the university and global relations. He told us all about NUS, what they want to achieve, how they bring the world to NUS, and send NUS to the world, and about all their colleges around the world.

The final activity for the day was a demonstration lab which was extremely fun, interesting, and informative, it was the best way to end the day. We got to play with liquid nitrogen to learn about superconductors, learnt about electricity and how lightning rods work, and many other simple but educational experiments.

I think that the main reason today was so enjoyable was because of the way in which everything was explained to us. Even though they were all extremely technical processes, they were explained was simple enough for undergraduates to understand. It was one thing that I found difficult with IMRE that it was explained in a way that only the more advanced students could understand. At NUS however, the way in which they explained everything, I believe any person could just about have gone on the tour with us and had a decent understanding of most of the processes. It really made me have a very high opinion of NUS and make me want to return sometime in the not too distant future.

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