All posts by nick2710

The Study Tour Final Day

On Wednesday the 9th of July we had our final day of the La Trobe Nanotechnology Study Tour in Singapore. It was a really great day to end the tour on. First we started our morning by going to Biopolis, where we visited the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) where we got to see some of their laboratories and then have an extremely intriguing presentation by Victor Nurcombe. Victor researched into stem cells, heparin glycosaminoglycan, and natural sugars. They were able to grow bones back using just the sugars in pigs, fish, rabbits, rats, and soon will have a human trial to see if it works in humans. 

After visiting IMB, we went to NUS’s surface science laboratories and the Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS) located in NUS. The SSLS was very interesting as it was such a small synchrotron, yet it was able to help so many different research machines that they had there. 

Our last stop for the study tour was IMRE where we started our study tour. It was good to meet Sean again and to discuss our thoughts about Singapore then compared to when we first arrived. After some tea, coffee and hot milo, a good discussion and a goodbye, we signed off the study tour and said goodbye to Paul and Dongchen. 

Since the study tour finished I have travelled to Jakarta, and am now currently in Bali relaxing by the pool. I definitely needed this little holiday to relax after the two weeks of hard, but enjoyable work.

 

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Fusionworld and Singapore Zoo

It has been a great day today as it was very relaxed and filled with fun in which we visited Fusionworld – Fusionopolis, and then the Singapore Zoo.

Fusionworld is similar to the Scienceworks museum in Melbourne where it displays new and exciting technology, however in Fusionworld it is all technology that has been created in institutes like A Star around Singapore. It was great to see products come from hard work at some of the institutes we visited and have them right in front of us. I hope that some day I can see products on display in a place like Fusionworld that I researched and worked hard on.

Some products within Fusionworld include a holographic display that you see upon entry, mirrors with cameras in them which can detect your gender and age and then display advertisements according to your profile, hospital beds that can non-invasively monitor your vital signs, video games that you control with your mind, and many other amazing products. I hope I can see some of these products in Melbourne in the not too distant future.

After the tour of Fusionworld was over they allowed us to go to the 23rd floor where they had a beautiful sky garden that was a great opportunity for some nice photos (See Gallery Above).

In the afternoon we met up once again with the biodiversity group and visited the Singapore Zoo for a behind the scenes tour. The first part of the behind the scenes tour was visiting the animal veterinary clinic where they treat sick and injured animals. The second part of the behind the scenes tour was where they prepare all the food for the animals. I did not enjoy this part of the tour as there was raw meat everywhere which gave of a foul smell. I was very happy to get out of there and be able to explore the zoo to see all the animals. A few of my favourites animals included the elephants, pygmy hippopotamus, white tigers, otters, and many others. See the Gallery above for some images.

SMART CREATE

There wasn’t too much that happened today, however it was still highly productive. Unfortunately our plans for the morning had fallen through, but fortunately this allowed us all some time to split into our two separate groups in order to work on our group projects about the A Star institutes. 

In the early afternoon we visited the SMART CREATE building, which luckily for us is located in University Town where we are staying. SMART CREATE is an institute which collaborates with MIT and mainly researches in biomedical science. We were able to visit their laboratory that specifies in making micro fluid chips to be used in the medical industry. Their chips were specifically made in order to detect how specific cancer cells are being affected in order to find an ideal method of treating the certain type of cancer. In the basement of the SMART CREATE building we visited yet another laser facility, this time however instead of using the special tables that they are mounted on the counteract any movement in the ground, they used large concrete slabs that use air pressure in order to counter balance any movement.

Unfortunately our time at SMART CREATE was quite short, but this allowed us to do a lot in our afternoon. A group of us went and played basketball for a couple hours, which turns out to be an exhausting thing in Singapore. As fun as it was, I wouldn’t recommend everyone to run around a basketball court for two hours that has no air-conditioning, and if you must, stay hydrated! The evening was then spent working on all of our assignments that we have as I would rather get as much done whilst I am still in Singapore as I am not heading straight home to Melbourne when the study tour is completed. 

Weekend in Singapore

It was a great weekend in Singapore as the La Trobe students were set free to roam around and see what we wanted. Unfortunately for us we were all very tired from the past week so we spend Saturday resting and catching up on work.

On Sunday a group of us decided to go out and do something fun, so we went to a water park called Wild Wild Wet that was not too far from Changi Airport. It was extremely cheap at only $19 SGD for entry, and definitely worth the money! The park had very little people in it so the longest time we waited would have been three minutes at most. There were a variety of rides, one being a slide in which we could all go down at once. My favourite ride was called the Torpedo in which you are standing up in a tube, and then the floor you are standing on drops down and you fall down the slide at high speeds.

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On the way home from the waterpark George and I went to Orchard shopping centre to purchase some items that we needed. It was good to be able to visit some shops that I love that are not in Melbourne, however I was happy to hear from some staff that they will soon be there.

ERI@N & NTU Day 2

On our sixth day of the study tour we once again spent our entire day at NTU (Nanyang Technological University) as we did yesterday. This time however we visited two different places at NTU.

Our first stop for the day was the beautiful new CleanTech One building which is home to the Energy Research Institute @ NTU, or ERI@N for short. ERI@N is a research centre which main focuses are  on energy storage, fuel cells, sustainable building technologies, maritime energy, solar energy and solar fuels, wind and marine renewables, and electric cars. They strive to make a cleaner and greener future for the world. The CleanTech One building that they are located in even hosts some of the technology that they have created. Some of the products they have created include dehumidification cooling, wireless temperature gauges for around your house or building to monitor trends, and even electric cars. Their own building uses evaporative cooling that is in the tiles of the ceiling, rather than have air blown into only certain areas, therefore the room is cooled more evenly. The roof of the CleanTech One building is covered in solar powers, however they do not generate enough solar power to power the whole building, so on a lower level they have fuel cells which generate much of the other power needed. It was great to see the company not only work towards a more efficient and environmentally friendly future, but to actually use their own technology to show that it works effectively.

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After visiting some of ERI@N’s labs around CleanTech One, we had six PhD students present their research to us to show what you can achieve whilst working at ERI@N. Similarly, after lunch we went to the school of physical and mathematical science where six of their PhD students presented their research. After hearing all about their research, we got to see where some of their research takes place. My favourite thing that we saw was a machine that uses quantum technology and lasers to cool down atoms and be able to catch them within a magnetic field. It was amazing to actually be able to see the cloud of atoms caught within the field. The machine itself was also visually stunning, as you would hope so for something that costs three to four million dollars.

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After this all of the nanotechnology students from La Trobe were signed off and we were able to explore singapore for the weekend.

SIMTech and NTU Day 1

On Thursday the 3rd of July we had the chance to visit another A Star research institute called SIMTech (Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology) located at NTU (Nanyang Technological University). SIMTech’s aim is to develop high value manufacturing technology to enhance the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry, to create intellectual properties, and to nurture research scientists. They have three divisions including manufacturing processing, manufacturing automation, and manufacturing systems. SIMTech’s research programs are very product orientated as Singapore wants new and advanced products being made in order to keep their manufacturing flourishing so there are more jobs and so the economy can continue to grow. Some of the areas that SIMTech research into include forming technologies, polymer/powder processing, machining technology, laser precision machining, surface technology, mechatronics, and many many other areas. It allows people of all areas of science to be able to research something that they are interested in.

After visiting a few of SIMTech’s laboratories and a quick lunch break, we headed over to the main NTU campus where we went to the Material Science and Engineering division of the university where we had a quick briefing about NTU before six students, five of them being PhD and one an honours student, spoke to us about their research. We learnt that NTU is on two-hundred hectares, has 1.1 million square metres of build up space, four-hundred-thousand square metres of academic space, and approximately thirty-three-thousand students. The materials science and engineering division mainly focus on defence materials, sports materials, nano materials, bio materials, polymer materials, and materials for sustainability. 

All of the presentations that we were shown were very interesting, however three out of the six particularly grabbed my interest. The first one that I thoroughly enjoyed was about nanomedicide for ocular diseases and how they can be delivered. This was useful because instead of having to twice a month get a drug injected into your eye, they were trying to find ways in which the drug can be delivered without causing irritation and only twice yearly. The second presentation I found particularly interesting was about biomimicry. They were trying to replicate a material that is the same as the humboldt squids teeth that are in its suckers as it is a very strong substance that is completely made up of proteins similar to spiders silk. The third research I found interesting was a lab-on-a-chip concept which always interest me. They were trying to design a microfluidic platform for liver tissue engineering. The purpose of this is to be able to test new drugs in a chip that performs the same as a human liver in order to avoid having to test the drugs on animals such as rats inside a lab.

After our day at NTU was over, a group of us decided to venture into little india to visit some of the hawker markets and to see a side of Singapore that is completely different to what we have seen so far. It was good to see the side that hasn’t got all the new ultra modern buildings and to see what singapore was more like before the huge modernisation and westernisation set in. It was also a great chance to do some cheap shopping.

Republic Polytechnic & S.E.A Aquarium

I had quite an enjoyable day today as it was slightly more relaxed then previous days. Although I could have done without the 6am start, however I somehow managed to get to sleep by 10pm which I have not been able to do in years, so it was good to be able to catch up on some sleep.

The first item on our agenda for the day was to visit Republic Polytechnic near Woodlands. Republic Polytechnic is an organisation that is similar to tafe and university in Australia. It is students who have finished the Singapore equivalent of year 10 and go on to earn a diploma which they can then use to either get into uni, or go straight into the work force. They offer a wide range of courses from biochemistry, biotechnology, material science, pharmaceutical science, environmental science, or marine science and aquaculture. What makes Republic Polytechnic so different to all the other polytechnic schools is that its method of teaching is that they use problem-based learning, have hands on training, and industry attachment. I enjoyed seeing their aeroplane hangar where they had their very own business private jet that was no longer air-worthy, but still fully functional, so that they were able to examine and see how everything works. Some of us were lucky enough to get to sit inside it.

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In the afternoon we had a great opportunity to meet and make friends with some students from all around the world who are studying in a biodiversity summer program at NUS. We had a field trip to the S.E.A (South East Asia) Aquarium which is currently the largest aquarium in the world (however it is soon to be passed by a new aquarium in China). We had a chance to go behind the scenes of the aquarium to learn about how they look after and feed the animals, and were able to feed some of the tropical fish ourselves. My personal favourite animals I saw at the aquarium would have to be the cuttlefish and giant octopus as I am extremely interested in cephalopods and find them extremely intelligent and fascinating creatures. I also enjoyed the nautilus as they are such interesting fossil like creatures that have been around for centuries.

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I am very happy that we had a day like today where there wasn’t so much work and we were able to relax a bit more, and look forward to seeing our friends from the biodiversity summer program again when we visit the Singapore Zoo in a few days.

 

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.

Australia High Commission and IMRE

It was an early start to the day today as we left NUS (National University of Singapore) at 8am to head to the Australian High Commission. It was just a few stops on the train from Kent Ridge to Holland Village where we quickly got some breakfast at Brunetti which had amazing croissants and milkshakes (the milkshakes had choc chips in them….. YUM!!). We then made our way to the Australian High Commission and once we had gone through security we were greeted by Jennifer Burdick, the third secretary, and Tracy Harris who works for Austrade. They held a highly informative seminar in which we learns all about Singapore’s political system and history,  Singapore’s relationship with Australia, and the educational relationship with Australia.

In the afternoon we visited IMRE (Institute of Molecular Research and Engineering) where Dr Sean O’Shea who then gave us an introduction, followed by Dr Evan Williams. We were then shown around the building to several labs, the first being an optics lab which had several machines that measures the light emitted from a single molecule. After this we went to the nano-composites lab which was my personal favourite as it is something I have a large interest in, and is something I am considering as a potential future job opportunity. In this lab they have been working a lot with carbon fibre to make new bicycle frames that are extremely strong and light. They have previously made aeroplane turbine propellers out of carbon fibre, but wanted to try and make them withstand the extremely high temperatures from the engine, and also be able to withstand a lightning strike. Unfortunately they were unsuccessful in doing so, they were able to make it withstand 10^16 times more electricity than previously and could withstand an indirect lightning strike, however a direct hit would still break it. The third lab we attended was the characterisation lab which used had SEM’s (Scanning Electron Microscope) and other scanning machines alike.

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Overall today was a highly informative and enjoyable day. I look forward to the days ahead.

 

Marina Bay!

So today was a day that I have been looking for since we found out what our schedule was. This is because we were visiting Marina Bay, home of the amazing Marina Bay Sands hotel, Gardens by the Bay, and Merlion. Marina Bay was one of the few things I remember from my last trip to Singapore when I was four, so it was exciting to see how much it had changed. As I thought it would be, the changes were incredible!

Our first stop was Marina Bay where we observed the beautiful surroundings, such as the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands, the Double Helix Bridge, and the Art and Science Museum. Marina Bay was the perfect combination of science, architecture and art.

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After crossing the Double Helix Bridge we entered the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Centre for lunch and some quick shopping. It has to be one of the most amazing shopping centres I have ever been to around the world! It was enormous, ultra modern, and basically my idea of what heaven would be like. It had a little river with gondolas running through it as well.

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Our second stop after lunch were the Gardens by the Bay where we visited two conservatories, the first one being The Flower Dome. The flower dome was filled with flowers and plants which were sorted into different areas of the world. The main display being the persian garden which had bright, colourful mosaics with water features. The second conservatory we attended was the Cloud Forest. This conservatory was one of my favourite places we visited today. As soon as you enter you are surrounded by beautiful rain forest florae and a 35-metre water fall. There were walkways on many levels throughout the Cloud Forest allowing you to view every angle of the place. It is somewhere I would definitely recommend people to visit who come to Singapore as it’s like no where else.

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