Category Archives: westy1822

Post-tour adventures. Reflections upon return to Australia

I spent a few nights in little India, in the backpackers hostel The prince of Whales. It was nice to relax after such a busy two weeks. A few of us who stayed there went shopping some more at Bugis, Mustafa, and Funan. I got the chance to go to the night safari at the zoo with two Danish backpackers, which was a really nice time. The atmosphere was very nice at the backpackers but I felt that it was time to return home.
The last day: Sunday started way too early from the sleep I’ve had, but the weather here makes it possible. It is pretty annoying that as soon as I’m completely acclimatized to living here, food, heat, ect, I must return home. I am going to miss Singapore and the people I have meet on this trip.
The day was spent at the airport, with its whole Koi ponds, butterfly gardens, free movie cinemas. Singapore airport is an amazing place.
I had a nice stopover in Kuala Lumpur, which was enough time off the plane for me to get some food and have a shower before getting onto the final flight to take me home to Melbourne.
Melbourne was much colder than I expected when I got back, shorts and a T-shirt weren’t the best idea to land with. Regardless it was nice to be back home.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the study tour, I feel that I have learnt a lot about Singapore, it’s science, and the fact that their is so much to be gained from international relationships and looking past our own boundaries to other lands which have so much to offer. We now live in an age of an international community; we should use it to its full advantage.
I am very glad I have  made these blog posts, I will be able to look back onto this in a few years and remember the experiences I have had in Singapore.

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Pretty buildings

Now I am back in Australia I feel as that nothing had changed here but that I have matured as a person, I must be more confident with myself, and i should work harder for the things I really want. Also better organisation wouldn’t hurt.
Keeping a journal will help me remember what has happened, while also allowing me to attempt to improve my writing. I am planning to continue blogging my other adventures on my own blog.

Cheers for following this blog, i hope you have enjoyed it.

Fun at backpackers
Fun at backpackers

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Singapore airport has its own butterfly enclosure
Singapore airport has its own butterfly enclosure

 

Singapore airport is amazing
Singapore airport is amazing

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Sun over the clouds, almost home.
Sun over the clouds, almost home.
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Biopolis and the final day.

After an early night, I woke up at 4:00am to watch the Brazil & Germany World Cup match. Just after the 7:1 German victory, the sky’s above Singapore opened up to a torrential downpour with lighting cracking all around us. It was truly an intense experience to have purple lighting so close to us. By our meeting time of 8:20am it had slowed down to a drizzle. We took the shuttle bus to Kent ridge then the train to Bona vista, where we then walked for a few minutes to Immunos at Biopolis. Biopolis is an international research and development centre for biomedical sciences. Immunos is one of the buildings in the Biopolis complex which houses The Institute of Medical Biology (IMB). We were greeted and given a tour of their laboratories. Then we were given a presentation by an Australian Professor, Victor Nucombe who works at IMB.

The presentation was about himself, history about Singapore, and the story of the company he is in/ how he got there.It was very interesting to know how Victor Nucombe got to where he currently is and the journey he has taken to get there.
We were then taken down to the basement where they showed us their super-resolution fluoresce microscopes. Apart from being very beautiful, the images they take there are also useful scientifically.

We then travelled back to NUS, to their surface science laboratory where we were shown their equipment and the Singapore synchrotron light source (SSLS). The SSLS is very small compared to the one we have at Monash, but it is still able to produce what is needed for experiments.

After that visit we returned to IMRE where we once again had a sit down and chatted with some of the people there. From which we were then dismissed from the tour.
I then continued my own adventures.

Fusionopolis and zoo trip.

White tigers.
White tigers.

We awoke to a wet morning from some rain in the night. I guess I slept through the thunder.
This made the whole day humid, but I think I am finally getting used to the climate here. First on the agenda was a trip to Fusionworld – Fusionopolis. Which was a part of the A*STAR institute which showcased its technologies to us in a gallery/guided tour format where we were taken on a guided tour of their facility. We started with a holographic promotional video which gave us back story to them.

Fusionopolis
Fusionopolis 

They showed us billboards which adjust their advertisement to the demographic in highest proportion around it for targeted marketing, such as age and gender. Voice recognition technology which instantly translates to local south east Asian languages. A voice activated mobile phone prototype which is currently only available in china. We were then shown a new type of body amour which was able to massively reduce the amount of force from an impact. A demonstration showed the same impact going from 45 N to 11N which has great applications in nursing homes for patients who are prone to falling so they don’t break any bones. They were made from a non-Newtonian fluid like cornstarch. A lack of photos from all of these is that we were not allowed to take photos of what we saw except for one room. We were then shown a massive touch screen which has applications in medical teaching for students to interact and see what a full brain scan looked like, including all of the components of the head. The next was really cool, a video game which was controlled with your brain waves. Granted it was pretty basic as a concentrate to move forward, however the concept of it and the progress is pretty cool. We were then shown another medical technology which uses optic fibres to monitor a patient’s heart rate and respiratory rate without the need for any wires. The benefit of this is that if a patient has sleep apnoea or stops breathing, the nurses will be notified immediately. The next room confused me, all it had was dim lights and fans on the walls which activated when approached. I thought it may have been some cooling or air circulation technology, turns out it was just a room for us to relax in from the information we were being given.

Relaxing room
Relaxing room

The final room was fun, as it had a projector on one wall with a webcam watching the projected screen. They had developed a way for laser pointers to be used as pointers with tablet devices, which lead the two tables of students taking turns playing pong and ice hockey on the projector screen.
Last of all we were shown a soft toy. This responds to input from a user, as having pets in retirement homes helps boosts moral, this too is trying to use the same approach to help the elderly with depression and to give them companionship. It responded positively and negatively depending if you stroked it, hugged it, or even gave it a wack. Also if left unattended for an amount of time it would start making noise and provide feedback to the nurses of how it was treated which would reflect the moods of the elderly who had them. We were then taken to the Sky Garden which was a really nice and relaxing place with many greenery and a great view of Singapore.

Sky garden
Sky garden

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From there we were dismissed and told to meet back at NUS at 1PM for a trip to the zoo.

Great food
Great food

We started the visit by meeting up with the exchange students from the biodiversity program again. Then were given back stage tours of the zoo including the food storage and kitchen for the animals, and the veterinary clinic which services all of them.
I then had a walk around the zoo for a while checking out a lot of the exhibits, including a show put on by some keepers and Asian elephants.

Elephants performing.
Elephants performing.

Overall the day was very nice, I got to see some new technologies and pretty animals while eating good food. What else would i want?

SMART CREATE center.

The morning was spent in out Pico and Nano groups working on our group assignments which are worth 30% of our overall grade mark. I was doing a report on IMRE. Considering writing is not my strong point, I have been finding these reports hard.
In the afternoon we went to the SMART CREATE (MIT Joint Centre) at University Town which was only a short walk from our meeting point at Starbucks. The centre was research laboratory for biological materials such as disease research like cancer and malaria. In vitro drug interaction using microfluidics. They then showed us how they make the microfluidic chips using PDMS by soft lithography.
The second laboratory section we visited was a high precision optics lab which shoots lasers like pew pew. Which changed the refractive index of the medium around the scanning area which would alter the path of the sequential laser beam, gense giving a result.
Overall the day was pretty short. We were dismissed at 4:00 which was pretty early considering we were already at Utown. So seven of us went to the basketball court where we played a few half court games which was a really nice chance to show the like-mindedness of the students on the tour.

Weekend adventures, with some R&R.

When I got back to my room Friday night I realised that in the bathroom that they had changed the taps from, taps to times press tops, which makes washing hands annoying. Friday night was really nice and a good time to relax, I was chilling out with some of the other guys watching the world cup when we noticed some guy in the hallway outside the common room. As I went to the bathroom he threw up as I realised he was a bit drunk, so one of the other guys gave him some water to help him feel better.
A while after that when we went to check on him some of his friends showed up telling us he was at a party in the area and disappeared, so they found him on the 13th floor of our building. He was looking in a bad state so as we were taking him to the shower we noticed that he was completely unresponsive, but he was breathing so that was good.
We got his friend to call an ambulance while we took him to the lobby of the building and put him in the recovery position.
On Saturday I woke up at 2pm, it was nice to have a very long sleep in. I spent the day relaxing on Utown campus and spent time with my trip comrades. We also played some video games on our computers together.
On Sunday, after a late brunch, five of us went to Wild Wild Wet, a water park near Pasir Ris, an eastern district near Changi airport. It was good to have a day to cool off in some water. Even when it rained it was lovely and warm so the temperature was really nice the whole day.
Getting there was a bit of a hassle, taxis can be really tricky and will often reject taking you where you want to go because it’s too far from their area. After we spent a fair few hours there we took the train back to NUS Utown, where I caught up on some washing and went to bed.

Nanyang ERI and SPMS

The study tour group arrived at NTU in the morning for another day of presentations.
We were greeted by Prof. Choo Fook Hoong who was a part of the energy research institute at NTU.
He gave us an introduction about the institute and how it was the cross-link which works with school of materials science and engineering which we visited yesterday. We were given another six specialist lectures by graduates and research fellows. The topics were solar energy, fuel cells, and energy storage. More specifically Perovskite solar cells, Novel materials for high efficiency Perovskite based solar cells, as the solar energy. The role of electronic properties of platinum and platinum alloys for enhanced reformate electro-oxidation in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, and electrical properties of Gadolinium doped Ceria, as fuel cell research. Finally then it was, Fundamental studies on Vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) cathodes for Lithium ion batteries, and carbon based electrodes for Vanadium redox flow.
Following those presentations we went to some project displays where they showed us some of the technology they have researched and are currently using. This included running cold water through pipes in the roof to cool rooms hence saving power, heat transfer stations and highly efficient evaporative air-conditioning techniques, DC power grids for homes, and building-wide monitoring.
We then had lunch put on for us, a complementary lunch is always nice. Soon after we took a bus over to the school of physical and mathematical sciences (SPMS)

The presentations we were then given were better presented so I was able to listen easier. The first was an introduction to SPMS with information about their scholarships. Soon the post-docs gave their presentations which started off with “Transformation optics/thermal cooling”. This presentation was essentially about bending light around objects to make them invisible using meta materials and using metal in a specific way to be able to hide thermal anomalies as heat camouflage. The second was “Laser cooling”, counterintuitive but self explanatory. Next was about The Centre for Disruptive Photonic Technologies (CDPT) and cognitive photons. The last for that day was about Milikelvin (really cold) system for cold atoms and superconductors.

We then broke for coffee where we could speak with the presenters. Which was followed by visits to the SPMS laboratories which had lots of lasers. One laboratory was isolating and cooling atoms to a point where their wave function merged as they became one object. They were testing its properties.

Nanyang tech and SimTech.

This morning I tried to be different and have an alternate breakfast to the runny eggs and dipping toast. It was a bad mistake as the noodles were way to spicy for that time of morning.
The public transport is nice here and as I finally realized that it is really cheap. It was only $0.12 for a bus ride. As they are calculated on distance travelled. Not like the Melbourne system.

We arrived at Nanyang technological university and were given an introduction and lecture about SimTech and what it does. Including it’s research and manufacturing processes. SimTech is a part of the A*Star institute which makes the link between researched technologies and industrial applications. The laboratories we were shown were very impressive. A lot of the facilities were about precision engineering and 3D printing.
We were then given five short presentations by NTU students who were doing post graduate research on various topics. It was nice to see the kinds of work they are doing and to have the chance to question them about it.
After that we were given a tour of their laboratories which included electron microscopes.
Later that night we went to little India to a hawker center for dinner where a few of us went and got food with a bit of walking about the shopping centre. I got a dish called fried carrot cake, it was anything but a cake. It was a very nice fried mixture of vegetables with an egg mixed into it.
The shopping centre was much more dingey and not as lavish as felt more real with many more locals and much more reasonable prices. I was able to buy some gifts for the family and shoes for myself.

Familiar faces. Colourful fish.

A early 7:15am start in Singapore is only 9:15am back in Australia. So it’s not that bad, just waking up when it is still dark is confusing.
We took a multitude of public transport which the aircon must be working very hard to keep up. We visited Republic Polytechnic and caught up with some students that we meet back in Australia when they were visiting. One of the students gave a very good presentation and I have hopefully now made a good international connection, as I can see him going far in the professional world.
We were given a tour around RP and their labs. Their approach to learning is problem based lesions where every day they are given a problem and have to asses, manage, correct, then report back with every day. We then went to their aircraft hanger where they have examples of equipment including a Learjet, a Cessna, and an Ultralight. With facilities to teach students how to work on them. Even having an air traffic control training room which simulates Changi airport. We then rushed back to Utown were we got changed and meet up with a group of international students from all over doing a summer subject at NUS. We all took a charted bus to Sentosa island where we were given a backstage tour of the aquarium. In the aquarium we were able to see the filtration systems they use and how they maintain the aquatic life there.
After the aquarium, I went out for dinner with two of the international students and some of the guys on the study tour with me. It was nice to walk around Sentosa island, also to get to know other students and how they are finding Singapore, and what their home countries are like compared with here.

Morning trains
Morning trains
Its a Jet
Its a Jet
Flight control simulation
Flight control simulation
Changi Airport model
Changi Airport model
Shark
Shark
Too soon?
Watch out Steve Irwin

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Colourful fish
Colourful fish
Jellyfish or Sea jellies because they are not fish.
Jellyfish or Sea jellies because they are not fish.

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Sentosa island including Universal studios.
Sentosa island including Universal studios.

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Science time.

After meeting up, it was only a short trip to our activities of the day, with today being fully contained in the science faculty of NUS. We meet five local students who took time out of their day to spend it with us. They were also studying various areas of science. We all then went around to their particle accelerator and they spoke to us about the research they have done and techniques they use with the accelerator.
Our cohort then travelled to the Centre for Quantum Technologies, which was established as Singapore’s first research centre of excellence in 2007. CQT was given $195 million of core funding for 10 years, this has allowed CQT to develop a world-class research program with strong theory and experiment groups.
We were given a presentation by one of the researches about single photon technologies and quantum entanglement with applications in cryptography. We were also given a tour of laboratories where they isolate atoms using magnetic fields which begin to exhibit different properties.   

For our break, the local students took us to a food court where we once again had amazing food at great prices. After that, we went back to our original meeting location where we had the privilege of having a presentation by the dean of the faculty of science. He spoke to us about NUS and it’s science programs.
We were then shown to a science demo lab which is always fun. The demonstrator showed us many concepts in science we have learnt about, but it is always nice to see them again and in action. Such as superconductors, standing waves, and kinematics.      
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Clean room
Clean room
Super sos
Super sos

High commission. Suit up.

After an early start it was nice to suit up and feel important. The humid morning soon turned the nice suit into a sweat cocoon. After a quick train and bus ride with an iced drink at the end to help me cool off. We soon entered the Australian high commission where we were greeted with a beautiful embassy showcasing the relationship between Australia and Singapore including the Colombo program. The group was greeted by two women who worked there. They spoke to us about the Singapore-Australia relationship, including extremely close defence relations being at the core of the relationship, details about the free trade agreement, and education exchanges between respective countries universities. We then had a more informal chat with the lady about Singapore, and her experience as an Australian living in Singapore.
Singapore is quite amazing in the way that it is so strong economically while having no natural resources. Building its wealth off crude oil processing, financial processing, and a large pharmaceutical  industry. This has allowed Singapore to be as strong as it has been. 

Then we rushed back to the accommodation and got changed quickly then rushed off to the IMRE, Institute for materials, research, and education. We were given presentations by two males that worked at A*STAR, which is a government organisation which does research and development for industries in Singapore, from small scale to large multinationals.

We then had a tour of the facilities where we saw a range of different laboratories and equipment which are very useful for nanotechnology. During a break I was able to network with a man doing his PhD in lithium ion batteries and the carbon structures used to hold them in the anode.