This morning we set off at the entirely appropriate time of 7:15 am to Republic Polytechnic, where we were hosted by students from the Diploma of Materials Science. After the initial briefing on the nature of polytechnics, their place in Singaporean education and the courses offered by RP, George and Nisha gave us their own take on Singaporean culture, with a few tips (including the three key aspects of life in Singapore- Makan (to eat), Shiok (expression of ‘awesome’, usually relating to food) and Byuan Tahan (expression of being overwhelmed, usually by spicy food).
During our tour through the labs and classrooms at RP, I noticed an unusual number of high end scientific instruments including an SEM, no less than four thin-film deposition machines (sputterers) and an NMR unit. Seeing a few classes in action, I appreciated just how appropriate the problem-based learning environment at RP is for fostering university-ready and industry-ready students.
The last item on the agenda for RP’s facilities tour was the aeronautical engineering building, which contained a number of aeroplane components, inspection equipment and tooling, as well as a 150 simulator view of the Changi airport (with which students study the principles of air traffic control across the full gamut of airfield conditions).
After a brief stopover at UTown to change into casual attire, we headed over to the NUS foodcourt to meet up with a group of NUS exchange biodiversity students hailing from U.Utrecht, UCal(San Diego), UCal(Santa Barbara), Canada, UofPerth and South America and departed for an afternoon at the aquarium on Sentosa Island. While the briefing on the specifics of filter technology was not terribly relevant to us as physics students (our lack of background or use for this knowledge made it difficult to absorb), we were reminded of the relevance of our field of study to the marine biology undertaken at the aquarium by the iridescent skin of some of the fish on display which rely on an array of optical nanostructures, as opposed to pigments.