Category Archives: tillatyler

Final days exploring Singapore

After the study tour ended, me and a few of the others guys went and stayed at the backpackers that Trey and I stayed at before the trip for three days. We had a really good time, we did a lot of walking around the city and walking around shopping centers and markets. We also did have a fair few late nights at the bar which was downstairs at our accommodation and we all got to know each other pretty well. I am really glad that we all spent those few days together, I had a lot of fun, and I wish that I had got to know the guys earlier.

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On Sunday, everyone was leaving to return home, except for Trey and I, I booked a hotel the night before to stay in Singapore for my last two nights, and Trey’s flight is leaving from Penang. So on Sunday I went to book into my hotel, but check-in didn’t open until 3pm and I gto there about 1pm so I just left my luggage there, then I went to Johor Baru in Malaysia with Trey as he was staying there for one night before heading off to Penang. Sunday turned out to be quiet an adventure for me; Trey and I got the bus to JB, which took around 40 minutes to get to the city, once we arrived, we got a cab to Trey’s accommodation, which was homestay accommodation and let me put it this way, I was glad I was staying at a hotel in Singapore. We then went to find some lunch and walked around for a little while, I didn’t want to hang around JB for too long as I still needed to check-in to my hotel.

Trey in Johor BaruLast day in Little India

I ended up leaving Trey’s accommodation around 5.30pm, and the owner of the house gave me some shady directions to get to the bus terminal to get back to Singapore, he said it was about a 10 minute walk so I was fine with that. So I went off on my way following his directions, which I couldn’t confirm as I couldn’t use my phone, I ended up getting lost in JB for around an hour, walking around in a deserted area that was over-run with jungle, it felt like I was in a post apocalyptic area, it was a rather unenjoyable experience and I regretted not getting a taxi, thankfully I ended up finding the bus terminal. It then took me around four hours to get back to Singapore and luckily the check-in closes late at my accommodation so I could still check-in.I was planning on going to sleep when I got to my room, but then these two girls I met earlier on my trip – Janice and Feii, wanted me to go to Clarke Quay and watch the soccer world cup final with them, I had a really good time with them. I ended up spending the next two days with them, it was pretty cool getting showed around the city with some locals, and I even had an unofficial tour of Singapore Polytechnic as the girls are studying cosmetic science there.

My flight was booked to leave on Tuesday night, which was my birthday, Janice and Feii came to the airport with me as they didn’t want me to spend my birthday alone, we went and had sushi for dinner. I was skeptical about having sushi, because I have never had it before, and I also have never really had sea food, let alone raw fish, I tried a lot of sushi, and to my surprise I actually enjoyed the food. I then boarded my flight and arrived home at around 6am.

Feii and Janice

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the Singapore trip and I would love to go there on exchange and possibly even work there one day, they have a really strong emphasis on science which I really like and I also really like the culture of Singapore.

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Final Day

Wednesday, the last day of the tour. This morning we went to IMB- the institute for molecular biology at Biopolis, we were given a tour of their laboratories, which as every place we have been, were very good. We then had a look at their microscopy unit, where they had a few confocal microscopes, a super resolution microscope, which provides a way to overcome the diffraction limit of light microscopes, and then some microscopes for live tissue cells, which were contained in a Perspex box which could have all ambient conditions controlled to keep the cell alive.

Professor Victor Nurcombe then talked to us about Singapore’s opportunities and how money is no object for research and Singapore is also home to most millionaire households per capita. He then went on to talk about some of his research, which was pretty amazing, basically he worked out that the sugars that activate stem cells can be used to re grow bones, capillaries and many other hard to repair cells.

We then had lunch, and went to NUS. We went to the surface science department, and had a tour of their laboratories, which had mass spectrometers and scanning tunnelling microscopes. I found the tour pretty interesting as I have just learnt how these microscopes work so it was good to see them in real life and talk to people that use them. We then had a quick tour of the NUS synchrotron as we were running a bit behind schedule, I also found this interesting as it was my first time visiting a synchrotron.

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To finish off the tour, we went back to IMRE, where we had a talk with Shaun and Nicolai and had some coffee and biscuits for about an hour. Nicolai was very interesting to talk to, he told us about alternate light sources, which are made from gallium nitride and have a life span of 50 years if they are used for 6 hours a day, and they are 3 times more energy efficient than current power saving light globes. After the coffee break, we had completed the study tour, a few of the guys and me had a couple of beers and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Fusionland

When I first heard about Fusionopolis, I thought it sounded like it was going to be some sort of science theme park when we arrived there in the morning, I was a tad disappointed that it wasn’t a theme park, but it was pretty awesome anyways. They had some pretty futuristic technologies there, we were given an introduction to the place with a hologram movie, and they had other cool things, such as; a game you use your brain waves to control, a smart hospital bed that can non invasively detect vital signs and many other things. Although Fusionopolis wasn’t a theme park, I still enjoyed it.

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Sky Garden - Fusionopolis

We returned to Utown, changed into more comfortable clothing and then had lunch, then headed to the science building to meet with the biodiversity group to go to the zoo. We were given a behind the scenes tour of the zoo, which we were shown the kitchen area, and in the wet kitchen there was a dismembered horse which was pretty discussing, and we were shown the animal hospital area, they have 10,000 animals at the zoo and only 8 hospital staff to care for the animals which is pretty amazing.

After the tour we were free to wander around the zoo, I enjoyed some parts, such as the flight area, that had lemurs in it, they were really friendly and you could even pet them. Other parts of the zoo I didn’t like, like the polar bear enclosure, the bear wasn’t in a cooled environment and the bear didn’t look very happy in the heat, and the trip has changed my perspective on zoos. I have never really liked zoos, as the animals are restricted and I think that if we want to see these kinds of animals, we should see them in their natural environment, not in a man made enclosure. I feel also if that were the way we saw animals, people would be much more aware of the need to conserve natural habitats, such as the deforestation to plant palm oil tress which has greatly affected many species.

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CREATE

This morning we didn’t have any visits planned, so we started planning our group assignment, which was handy to start the assignment early, and it made the morning pretty relaxed. I went and had lunch at Wendy’s, I’ve been pretty bad the past couple days and have been eating too much takeaway/western food.

After lunch we met up and went to the SMART CREATE centre where we were given a tour of some if their bio labs, where they use micro fluidics to investigate the effects of drugs on cells in a 3d in-vitro environment. Then we had a tour of their optics labs also. I found the micro fluidics research area pretty interesting.

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After the tour, the day was over and Trey, Norton, Paddy, Gerard, Nic, Nathan, Will, George and I went and played basketball at the stadium.

The Weekend

Saturday; I had a pretty big sleep-in, till around 12.30, it was well needed. Trey, Will and I went and got brunch, and then went and played some basketball in the stadium for about an hour. I then went and had lunch with Trey, then we went for walk to find an outdoor basketball court, which we couldn’t find, and ended up getting caught in a flash thunderstorm,  and I didn’t bring an umbrella so once we finally got back to the accomodation we were drenched. After tea, Trey, Nic, Gerard and I went out to Clarke Quay, which was ridiculously expensive so we didn’t have the best time.

Sunday; I slept in again and then Trey and I just went shopping all day, we went to the Mustafa centre in Little India, which was packed full of people becasue all the construction workers get Sunday off. Mustafa centre was a pretty insane place, they sell almost everything and their prices are cheaper than most shopping centers that I have been to in Singapore.

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Friday!

Friday 4th July.

This morning we went back to Nanyang Technological University to have a tour around the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N) and then the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and left from Starbucks at 9am.

When we arrived, Professor Choo Fook Hoong gave an introductory presentation about the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N). They collaborate with many large companies and they are very interested in alternative energy sources such as solar and hydrogen fuel cells. For me, this is an interesting research institute as I want to get into research of alternate energy sources.

Graduate students then gave lectures on their work about solar panels, fuel cells and different types of energy storage systems. Then we were shown some project displays and demos on wind and marine renewable energy and also alternate methods of cooling buildings. They have a few of these cooling systems installed in some of their buildings, one of the techniques used a modified roofing panel that had an evaporative cooling effect.

After the tour it was time for lunch and we were provided Subway which was delicious. We then caught a bus to the physical and mathematical sciences school where we were given presentations on their scholarship programs, and then some presentations from some of the researchers on topics such as; laser cooking and superconductor systems using cold atoms. To finish the day we had a tour around the labs, and one lab had a laser cooling setup with an active experiment where they had trapped atoms in a condensed point, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment, the experiment took 3 years to set up and around $3 million to purchase the equipment.

That was the end of the day and I just went back to Utown and had an early night.

SIMTECH and NTU

We had to be ready by 8am this morning, so I got a small sleep in which was good. I tried that toast and eggs breakfast that I thought looked gross and it was surprisingly nice, I also got an iced milo. We met at Starbucks and caught public transport to SIMTECH which is at Nanyang Technilogical University. We were greeted by Wai Jun whom gave an introduction to SIMTECH and afterwards we were given a your around their facilities. Their main focus is on materials science, so it was very interesting to me and we got to see some of their 3D printers which was cool.

We then had delicious chicken subs with salad that was provided to us. Professor Tim White then gave us an introduction to the School of materials science and engineering followed by 6 presentations from graduate students which were all very interesting, the presentations varied from medicine to materials science.

After the presentations we were given a short tour of the FACTS lab, bio materials lab and the organic service lab. All of the laboratories have very up to date and high quality resources available to them.

The visit was completed and Trey, Paddy, both Nics, Norton and Gerad and I went to Little India and had dinner at a Hawker food centre and then went shopping at one of the markets close by.

Repbulic Polytechnic and Aquarium

Today we’re going to Republic Polytechnic and then the aquarium. I had to get up at 6am, which is way too early to meet with the rest of the group by 7.15. I cooked bacon for breakfast this morning, which was yum.

We arrived at Republic Polytechnic and we were greeted by the Republic poly students that we hosted when they came to La Trobe University. We had a tour around their campus, they have pretty amazing facilities, including an aircraft hanger with a private jet, two smaller planes inside it, and a control tower simulator of the Changi airport.

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We then had to quickly rush back to our accommodation to get changed and then caught the shuttle bus back to the science department. Once there, I was pretty hungry so I quickly ran over to the food court and brought some spring rolls and chicken curry puffs. We met with some other students, some from California, Hong Kong and Western Australia.

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We went with the other students to Santosa island to the aquarium, where we had a backstage tour of the aquarium, which was pretty interesting, I even got to feed some fish! They also have the second largest viewing tank in the world which spans 36 metres and is 8 metres high.

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NUS visit

Last night Nic and I found a little kitchenette at the accommodation, so this morning we had vegemite on toast for breakfast, it was nice to have something I usually have for breakfast at home. We met up with the rest of the group at Starbucks, and then caught the shuttle bus to the science facilities at NUS and had a quick snack at the foodcourt there.

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Next we met some students from NUS who are studying a very specialised degree, where they are hand picked to gain entry to the special science degree. It sounds like a very good program, along with their studies, they are assigned a mentor, under which they undertake research assignments.

We then went to CIBA, which is a multidisciplinary centre that uses high energy ion beams. We got to go down and have a look at the beam line, which was really cool. We were given talks by some of the professors there on what they utilise the beam lines for. Majority of the projects use the beam lines for proton bea, writing, which allows micro-nano structures to be produced in materials such as polymers and semiconductors, the projects were really interesting.

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We then got to see the graphene research facilities, which included a large clean room, this was also very interesting, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to go into the cleam room. We then went to the Quantum centre, where we had a tour of a lab where they are trapping atoms in a localised area in a vaccuum using, magnetic fields and also by cooling them to almost zero kelvin using lasers. We also got to see the facilities where they, make the chips for these experiments. I found this part of the tour particularly interesting.

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We then went and had lunch with the NUS students at a food court where I had some delicious mie goreng noodles. After lunch we went to the science demo lab, which was a fun experience, it was similar to a small version of science works. We got to play with superconductors which was awesome! Along with many other fun, interesting science phenomina. Eventually, we had to stop having fun and head back to our accommodation. All around, today was a very interesting, and informative day, and I discovered NUS has amazing research facilities and I would be very interesting on going on exchange here.

High Commision and IMRE

This morning we had to dress up in our suits and ties to visit the Australian high commision. I wasn’t looking forward to walking around in my suit outside because of how humid it is here, but surprisingly it wasn’t too bad. We took public transport to the high commision and arrived early so we stopped to get some coffee nearby.

After coffee we walked over to the high commision, where we had to pass through airport security basically, we all got through successfully. The lobby of the commision had a modern, industrial feel to it and it was much cooler than outside. We were greeted by Jennifer, and Tracy, whom gave an informal talk to us about the relationship between Australia and Sinagpore.   Singapore’s relationship with Australia is a very close one, there are connections in almost all aspects of governenment and both have similar views on many topics. Australia and Singapore also have mamy commomalities as they are both relatively young countries and have a very diverse, multicultural background. After the talk, we had a disscussion session with the speakers accompanied by some morning tea.

Once morning tea was finished, we came back to our accomodation where we had half an hour to get changed and get lunch, let me say, getting a footlong Subway was a bad choice, I don’t think I have ever eaten one that fast before.

After getting changed we caught the NUS shuttle bus to the institute of materials and engineering (IMRE) where we were greeted by Dr Sean O’Shea and he gave us a brief outline on what IMRE do. We then had a tour around some of the facalities, such as the optics lab, where Dr Nikodem explained one microscopy technique that can detect light from single molcules, which was pretty interesting but complicated. Next, we went to a nanocomposites lab where Dr Warintorn gave us a tour and showed us a carbon fibre tube which is going to be used for new, light weight bicycles, which was awesome. We then went and looked at some SEM equipment, that looked like some alien tech, after that the day was completed and I went back to my accomodation and rested.

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